Meeting Summary – Post 42nd General Election Special Meeting – November 19, 2015
ACPP Forward Agenda and Open Forum
Belaineh Deguefé, DCEO ISPPA, thanked members for their initial reflections and feedback and asked them to send their written comments on this last election and suggestions for areas of improvement using the feedback form by the close of this calendar year, December 31, 2015.
Mr. Deguefé mentioned that EC does not anticipate meeting with ACPP members before the next AGM in 2016, for which likely agenda items will include the Report on Accessibility at the Polls and the general election evaluations and recommendation reports. Mr. Deguefé noted that, in 2016, if circumstances permit, EC will organize a technical briefing on accessibility. The objective of the session would be to engage ACPP members and representatives of EC's Advisory Group on Disability Issues.
Stéphane Perrault, DCEO RA, let ACPP members know that political parties will be asked to update their registration and get the required 250 signatures by June 30, 2016.
Proposed forward agenda items and open forum
ACPP members were invited to propose agenda items for the next meeting.
It was suggested that the CEO should consult with all parties for the nomination of the Broadcasting Arbitrator (BA), who should fall under the responsibility of the CEO, as the CEA does not require that only parties represented in Parliament choose the BA. Mr. Perrault reaffirmed that the CEA provides for the nomination of the BA by the parties represented in Parliament, but assured members that EC will consider options to consult with parties that are not represented in the House of Commons.
Questions were asked about the RO selection process, compensation and training. It was suggested that some of these elements might be inadequate.
Concerns were raised about the complexity of the rules and the differences in rules governing third parties. Mr. Perrault agreed that the law is complex, and while EC is trying to simplify its procedures and guidelines, it remains an ongoing challenge, which is reflected in the language used by the CEO in his reports to Parliament.
There was some interest in PWC's audit and its timeline. Mr. Perrault informed members that EC expects to be reporting on the audit around June 2016, which might be just in time for the next AGM. Mr. Roussel noted that there are existing links between the RO competency profile, their job performance and the audit, which will likely be topics covered at the next AGM.
A member suggested a pilot project to use students to staff polls, perhaps as part of a civics class. Mr. Roussel mentioned that the CEO has allowed ROs to hire election workers as young as 16. The 2015 election is not the first time this has been done. In the last election, EC brought the average age of election workers down. ROs across the country are making an effort to hire young Canadians. Mr. Roussel also noted that EC's special ballots offices on campuses were staffed by students and that they were well run.
There were questions about the effects of Bill C-23's impacts on EC's ability to reach out to Canadians. Mr. Roussel indicated that EC's outreach efforts were focused on providing electoral information to voters: when, where and ways to register and vote, and that this worked well for this election, if voter turnout is an indicator. He also pointed out that, in previous elections, EC never invested heavily in the motivational messaging related to voting. The legislation did not prevent EC from having a robust campaign to share key voting information with electors.
One member brought forward a suggestion that attendees be compensated for their time to participate in ACPP meetings. The question of compensation of official agents was also raised, as they are not currently receiving any indemnity for their considerable efforts. A comment was made about the possibility of setting a maximum campaign length, because campaigning is expensive for small parties. It was also noted that parties generally received more communications and information than needed, which tended to render them ineffective and pointless.
Other proposed forward agenda items included whether the mandatory $1,000 deposit to become a candidate could be removed; the possibility of adding voting stations at advance polls; the exclusion of smaller political parties; and recommendations to enforce the integrity of campaign signage.