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Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting – October 11–12, 2012

7) Political Financing Updates

Sylvain Dubois (Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Political Financing) presented updates on the 41st general election candidate returns and reimbursements, the 2011 electoral district association annual filings, nomination contests and contestants, the official agent training program, and compliance unit activities. A copy of the presentation was provided to participants.

Discussion

It was recommended that training videos similar to the existing EDA video be developed for official agents. This is part of Elections Canada's plans; however, Web accessibility requirements stemming from a federal court ruling (the Jodhan decision) have delayed this. Elections Canada must first ensure current videos are accessible.

Several comments and questions were raised regarding auditing and filing requirements for nil or minimal dollar value campaigns, EDA expenditures and nomination contestants, noting the time and cost for parties and the difficulty in attracting qualified auditors. Elections Canada explained that the CEA requires the filings for all contests, even if uncontested, and similarly requires returns and audits from EDAs regardless of expenditures – this is not at Elections Canada's discretion. However, the CEO has recommended to Parliament that a minimum threshold be established prior to an audit being required.

In response to several questions, Elections Canada outlined its staffing process and levels for its internal auditors, noting that it maintains a core group of experienced auditors while temporary staff are hired as needed for audits following elections. Should any parties have concerns regarding the quality of advice during their Elections Canada audits, they are encouraged to contact Elections Canada so that corrective action can be taken as required.

A question was raised as to the value and effort required of horizontal audits that explore expenditures dating back several years. Elections Canada explained its obligation to recover all funds regardless of the amount or timing – this is not at its discretion.

Regarding the retention of records, while there is no requirement for parties to retain records for more than two years, there is a requirement to provide information that may be required for an investigation/audit. Elections Canada recommends, therefore, that records be retained for a longer period of time, such as 10 years.