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Apr 19, 2014 at 02:06 PM


Welcome to my online office. I have set up this website to give you a chance
to interact with me directly and to learn a little bit more about my work to
Stand Up for St. Catharines in Ottawa. I hope you will take the time to read
my blog, check out the community calendar and look at the services available
through my Community Office. Most of all, I hope you will take the time to
communicate your ideas and concerns by commenting on my blog, voting for the
online polls or sending me an e-mail. This website is here for you, so
please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

 
 

Government of Canada Introduces Fair Elections Act
Feb 04, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Today Democratic Reform Minister, Pierre Poilievre, introduced a sweeping bill designed to protect the fairness of federal elections.

The Fair Elections Act will ensure everyday citizens are in charge of democracy, by putting special interests on the sidelines and rule-breakers out of business,” said Minister Poilievre.

“The bill also makes it harder to break elections law. It closes loopholes to big money, imposes new penalties on political imposters who make rogue calls, and empowers law enforcement with sharper teeth, a longer reach and a freer hand.”

The Fair Elections Act will implement 38 of the Chief Electoral Officer’s past recommendations.

The Fair Elections Act:

  • Protects voters from rogue calls and impersonation with a mandatory public registry for mass calling, prison time for impersonating elections officials and increased penalties for deceiving people out of their votes.
  • Gives law enforcement sharper teeth, a longer reach and a freer hand.  “Sharper teeth” means allowing the Commissioner to seek tougher penalties for existing offences. “Longer reach” means empowering the Commissioner with more than a dozen new offences to combat big money, rogue calls and fraudulent voting. Finally, a “freer hand” means the Commissioner will have full independence, with control of his or her staff and investigations, and a fixed-term of seven years, so he or she cannot be fired without cause.
  • Cracks down on voter fraud by prohibiting the use of vouching and Voter Information Cards as replacements for acceptable ID. Studies commissioned by Elections Canada demonstrate mass irregularities in the use of vouching and high rates of inaccuracy on Voter Information Cards. Voters will still have 39 forms of authorized ID to choose from to prove identity and residence.   
  • Makes rules easy-to-follow for all. Since the last election, the Commissioner has had to sign 15 different compliance agreements with those who have breached elections law. Some are due to honest mistakes. Members of all parties have noted that the rules can be unclear. Complicated rules bring unintentional breaches and intimidate everyday people from taking part in democracy. That is why the Fair Elections Act will make the rules for elections clear, predictable and easy-to-follow.
    Parties will have the right to advance rulings and interpretations from Elections Canada within 45 days of a request (a service similar to one provided by the Canada Revenue Agency). Elections Canada will also be required to keep a registry of interpretations and provide for consultation with and notice to parties before changing them.
  • Allows small donations in, and keeps big money out. Big money from special interests can drown out the voices of everyday citizens. That is why our laws strive to keep it out. The Fair Elections Act will ban the use of loans to evade donation rules. However, the Fair Elections Act will allow parties to better fund democratic outreach with small increases in spending limits, while imposing tougher audits and penalties to enforce those limits. It will let small donors contribute more to democracy through the front door and block illegal big money from sneaking in the back door.
    The Fair Elections Act’s modest adjustments in the donation limit (to $1,500) and election spending limits (up 5%) will let parties raise their own funds to reach out to Canadians. The total ban on union and corporate money remains.
  • Respects democratic election results. Members of Parliament and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) sometimes disagree on an MP’s election expense return.  When that happens, the Canada Elections Act provides that the MP can no longer sit or vote in the House of Commons, until the expense return is changed to the CEO’s satisfaction. The removal of a democratically-elected MP reverses the decision of tens of thousands of voters. The Fair Elections Act will allow an MP to present the disputed case in the courts and to have judges quickly rule on it, before the CEO seeks the MP’s suspension.
  • Upholds Free Speech. The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the ban on premature transmission of election results infringes on freedom of expression. The Fair Elections Act repeals this ban and upholds free speech.
  • Provides better customer service for voters by focusing Elections Canada advertising on the basics of voting: where, when and what ID to bring. Also, the Fair Elections Act would explicitly require Elections Canada inform disabled voters of the extra help available to help them vote. The Act will also establish an extra day of advance polling. The proposed change would give Canadians access to four advance polling days – the 10th, 9th, 8th and 7th days before Election Day.


The Fair Elections Act will make our laws tough, clear and easy-to-follow,” said Minister Poilievre. “It will make life harder for election law-breakers, and put the focus back on honest people taking part in democracy.”

For additional information, please visit: democraticreform.gc.ca.

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Open Letter from Rick Dykstra Regarding Services to Veterans
Jan 30, 2014 at 04:10 PM

I write to you today as I am deeply concerned by the misinformation that has been presented to our Veterans surrounding the closure of Veterans Affairs offices in various locations in Canada. I am concerned that our Veterans have been seriously misled and may have been provided incorrect (or a lack of) information in order for certain groups to play political games and engage in partisan activity. This letter will set the record straight.
 
The Public Service Alliance of Canada, PSAC, is part of the problem here. PSAC has been deliberately misinforming our Veterans that vital services that they rely on will simply be removed and unavailable as a result of the closure of these offices. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is interesting that there is concern over the closure of 9 offices when these closures simply seek to maximize services to Veterans by utilizing the approximately 650 offices nation-wide to provide Veterans with the services they need. This information is something that PSAC failed to provide to Veterans. It is pathetic that PSAC, or anyone else, would attempt to use our Veterans as a means to accomplish their own political goals.
 
To set the record straight, Veterans will always have the support they need. It should be pointed out that in St. Catharines-Niagara, there is no Veterans Affairs office whatsoever. However, Veterans who currently require service are aided through my own office or through their local Legion representative. As well, they can also be served at Service Canada offices in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland. Services will always be there for Veterans. Furthermore, this Government has been extremely supportive of our Veterans through several initiatives such as the Helmets to Hardhats program as well as doubling Government contribution rates to the Burial Services Fund.
 
I have the utmost respect for the men and women in this country who have risked their lives to protect us. I urge the Public Service Alliance of Canada to respect our Veterans and provide them with the full story; do not manipulate them into playing your political games. Veterans have fought enough for all of us. They should not be expected to fight PSAC’s political battles as well.
 
In closing, I would like to assure all Canadian Veterans that the services that they need will always be there for them. I urge Veterans to contact my office should they have any concerns surrounding Veterans Affairs and my office will be glad to work with them.

Regards,

 

Rick Dykstra, Member of Parliament

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January 2014 Newsletter
Jan 27, 2014 at 02:06 PM

If you would like to be placed on the list to receive notices of newsletters by e-mail, please call our office at 905-934-6767 or e-mail your request to .

In this month's newsletter: Fighting For a Cure, Ending Violence Against Women, Combatting Contraband Tobacco, Investing in Niagara Business, In Memory of Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, Balancing the Budget and Strengthening the Economy.

[Click here to download January 2014 Newsletter]

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