Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting – October 11–12, 2012
2) Contested Elections and the Role of Elections Canada
Stéphane Perrault gave a presentation on contested elections and Elections Canada's role. A copy of the presentation was provided to participants.
In response to questions, Elections Canada clarified some facts pertaining to the Etobicoke Centre contestation:
- The number of polling day registrations was not atypical;
- There was no suggestion of fraud in the riding; the contestation is based strictly on procedural matters;
- The decision to limit the contestation to 10 polls (out of a possible 200) was that of the applicant; and
- The Supreme Court of Canada typically releases its decisions within six months; however, there is no maximum time frame.
The CEO noted that the reliance on over 200,000 temporary staff who work for a 15-hour day after receiving only 2.5 hours of training is one of the main challenges in ensuring all procedural requirements are met. One way Elections Canada is looking to address this is by redesigning the voting process on polling day.
Elections Canada also clarified its role and that of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the context of contested elections:
- Elections Canada's mandate is to remain neutral in any contested election. It will assist the Court by providing information at the request of parties to the litigation, or at the request of the Court. It is neither the CEO's nor the Commissioner's mandate to actively contest elections.
- A court order, as was obtained in the case of Etobicoke Centre, is required to unseal poll bags and provide information to an applicant.
- Without a court order, Elections Canada (or the Commissioner) will only provide publicly available information (as was the case for information requested by the Council of Canadians).