Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting – October 11–12, 2012
3) Introduction of the Commissioner of Canada Elections
The CEO introduced Yves Côté, who was named Commissioner of Canada Elections in June 2012. The Commissioner then addressed members, highlighting the following:
- The Commissioner is non-partisan and, in the exercise of his discretion, operates completely independently from Elections Canada; the determination of what matters to pursue and the method used are solely at his discretion. Treating every complaint fairly, maintaining public confidence in the system and acting to increase compliance with the electoral system are paramount.
- A fundamental aspect of the Commissioner's role is to preserve the integrity of the system and confidentiality of investigations; consequently, the Commissioner does not comment on ongoing investigations. The Commissioner, however, will be exploring ways to keep the public better informed regarding the complaints received by his office and how they are dealt with.
- The level of resources at the Commissioner's disposal is excellent. Lengthy investigations are typically the result of complex issues and technical processes that are often time consuming.
Much of the discussion focussed on describing the requirements and authority for intervention by the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. Further to questions, the Commissioner and CEO clarified that the only mechanism provided by the CEA to contest election results is an application by an elector to the court; neither Elections Canada nor the Commissioner has that authority. However, an elector can request an investigation by the Commissioner, and Elections Canada may similarly refer matters to the Commissioner's Office for investigation (e.g. political financing irregularities). Based on the findings of an investigation, the Commissioner may then pursue the matter further (e.g. a caution letter, a compliance agreement, referral to the Director of Public Prosecutions, etc.).