Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting of June 13–14, 2013
Implementation of New Electoral Boundaries
Hughes St. Pierre (Senior Director, Strategy, Planning and Policy) gave a status update and walked through the impacts and next steps of the electoral boundary readjustment process. A copy of the presentation was provided.
Questions were raised about the next steps and timing related to the implementation of new boundaries. Mr. St-Pierre noted the new electoral districts are to be implemented seven months after the Proclamation of Representation Order (expected in September 2013). The new electoral boundaries come into force at the next dissolution of Parliament following that seven-month period. Until that time, by-elections are conducted under the current boundaries, and annual lists of electors are provided under the same boundaries.
The topic of the electoral district association registration/re-registration process under new boundaries generated extensive discussion.
In response to a question about the process for deregistering EDAs, Mr. Perrault indicated that where boundaries are in any way affected, EDAs will be deregistered automatically when the general election is called.
Clarification was requested for "Option 1: Change of district boundaries and EDA wishes to continue" (as described in the presentation). Mr. Perrault indicated that in this scenario, the EDA would continue under a new name to reflect the new riding. The form for continuation of the EDA requires both the former and new name of the riding, and Elections Canada will be providing draft forms to political parties for review.
Sylvain Dubois noted that when a new EDA is preregistered, the existing EDA will continue to exist until the dissolution of Parliament; both the existing and new EDA can co-exist, and both will be able to receive contributions.
Mr. Dubois clarified that there are some technical differences between a preregistered and continued EDA, but in operational terms, there is no significant difference. He noted that the assets of the existing EDA are not extended but transferred to the preregistered EDA. In the continued EDA, the returning officers are continuing in their role rather than newly appointed.
Mr. Dubois noted that for ridings which will be split and two new ridings established, the Canada Elections Act includes a provision allowing for 6–18 months of activity before a return is needed, so the new EDA return would be due in May 2015.
A number of questions were raised about the availability of the lists of electors for political parties to be able to run nomination processes under the new map. Mr. Perrault indicated that Elections Canada is aware of the issue and is looking at options. Rennie Molnar indicated that there are restrictions in the Act. He noted that in the case of the previous redistribution, there was an election immediately following, so the process unfolded very quickly. As a result of fixed election dates, Elections Canada is exploring ways to facilitate the transition to new electoral boundaries, including making use of concordance tables with political parties. As part of our consultation process on the lists of electors, Elections Canada will consult with technical staff of political parties to better understand their needs and how they can be addressed.
A number of questions were raised regarding political contributions to EDAs and EDA funds.
Mr. Dubois indicated that the maximum contribution limit of $1,200 continues to apply to individuals, regardless of the number of EDAs to which the individual contributes. As well, when one EDA is dissolved, the funds will go to either the party or the newly created EDA. Mr. Dubois noted that by law, the preregistered EDA has all of the powers of a normal EDA, so it will be able to transfer money to an EDA for a by-election. He added that administratively, it is slightly simpler to continue than wind up and create a new EDA, but that is a decision for the party.
A series of questions were asked about the nomination process for candidates in Schedule III ridings. Mr. Molnar responded that ridings in Schedule III are generally northern, rural ridings, and that the list of ridings in Schedule III must be revised based on the new boundaries. In most ridings, when the person wants to be a candidate, he or she needs to supply 100 signatures. Schedule III ridings require 50 signatures. The CEO indicated that the Act constrains which ridings may be included in Schedule III, but the final decision is with the CEO.
In response to a query about an online nomination process, the CEO noted that the Act still requires paper-based nomination forms. Elections Canada included a recommendation in 2010 to allow alternative formats, such as e-signatures.
During the discussion, the topic of changes to the requirement for political parties to recommend election workers for the 42nd general election was raised. The CEO explained that he has recommended to PROC the elimination of the requirement to wait until Day 17 for candidates of political parties who finished first and second in the previous election to submit the names of candidates to serve as election workers. This change would provide more flexibility for returning officers to begin recruitment and training earlier in the process and Elections Canada would be able to conduct recruitment campaigns before the writ. Candidates would be encouraged to direct those interested in being election workers to the website to apply.
Members expressed interest in viewing the preliminary maps of the proposed new ridings. Johanne Boisvert responded that the maps are available on the Federal Redistribution website: www.redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca