Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting – June 8, 2015
Stéphane Perrault, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Regulatory Affairs, and Jeff Merrett, Director, Regulatory Instruments and Systems, provided general updates on political finance, as well as specific information about registered political party advertising in the context of the by-elections underway.
Regarding changes to the political finance systems to incorporate Bill C-23 requirements, a new timeline was provided to ACPP participants, who reviewed it. The initial phases of implementation (for nomination contestants and party quarterly returns, for candidates, for electoral district association and party annual returns, and party general election returns) have been completed or are on target for completion before the upcoming election.
Participants were given the new party return form for general election expenses. This form was updated to reflect the new reporting requirements of Bill C-23, including the new obligation to report on expenses related to voter contact calling services. However, additional changes to provide more detailed reporting of expenses have not been included. An expanded version would have required additional work to develop appropriate expense categories, in addition to substantial system changes that could not be implemented and tested in time for the upcoming election. Options and considerations for an expanded form may be explored later, after the 42nd general election. If this happens, ACPP members will be informed and engaged regarding any proposed changes.
In relation to training activities, ACPP members were told that parties will soon be informed about training sessions for official agents that will be conducted during the summer across Canada, before the general election.
Regarding party election advertising in the context of the three by-elections underway, participants were given key information and reminders. The situation of parties planning to conduct pre-writ advertising and surveys in summer 2015 was discussed, including the fact that those activities would not be subject to the spending limits of the general election. This was contrasted with the situation of parties planning to endorse a candidate in a by-election, which would subject that party to the by-election spending limits, even for spending activities such as advertising distributed to a broader area than the electoral district where a by-election was taking place. Participants were invited to bring their questions regarding advertising to the OGI technical briefing to be held on June 9, which would deal with this matter.