New law needed to allow safe byelections in COVID-19 pandemic: Greens Annamie Paul

New law needed to allow safe byelections in COVID-19 pandemic: Greens  Annamie Paul
OTTAWA -- Green party Leader Annamie Paul is calling on the government to pass legislation proposed by Elections Canada on holding safe balloting before carrying on with byelections in two Toronto ridings.

Paul said in a statement Tuesday the federal government should follow Elections Canada s proposal to help the agency administer an accessible, safe and secure election during the pandemic.

Canada s chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault asked the House of Commons last week to pass a law to give Elections Canada discretion to decide how to administer elections in keeping with local health rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Instead of ignoring this legislation, the government should implement it without delay," Paul said.

Paul has been calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the byelections in Toronto Centre and York Centre that are scheduled to take place on Oct. 26.

Trudeau said Friday that he won t, because the residents of those ridings deserve representation in the House of Commons and the situation could get worse if there s a delay.

Paul said the situation in Toronto Centre, where she is running, is critical because it s the densest district in the country and people could risk contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 by going to polls.

"Two of Toronto s COVID-19 hot zones are in Toronto Centre," she said. "In some of the low-income, racialized neighbourhoods in the riding, more than seven per cent of residents are infected with COVID-19."

Paul said holding a byelection in a low-income riding with a large racialized population that has been severely impacted by COVID-19 is the latest insult to a community that already suffers from neglect.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday people have a civic duty to stop COVID-19 transmission by avoiding personal contact.

"The least the government can do is to help Toronto Centre residents respect this critical request," Paul said.
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