Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties – June 21–22, 2010
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) presented an overview of key activities since April 2009.
Four by-elections were conducted in November 2009, preceded by a teleconference with ACPP members in September 2009. The by-elections were held in Nova Scotia, Quebec (two) and British Columbia. The reports on the by-elections are available on Elections Canada's Web site. Highlights of the by-elections included:
- new measures that were put in place to protect electors and election workers from the H1N1 virus
- better use of cellular telephones to ensure the quick opening of returning offices (as a result, landline costs were reduced)
- better training of election workers that resulted in a more rigorous application of electoral rules and procedures, especially in light of concerns with the 40th general election
Legislative Update: Bills Before Parliament
Bill C-18: Increasing Voter Participation Act
- This bill would amend the Canada Elections Act by increasing the number of advance voting days from three to five.
Bill C-12: An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation)
- This bill would readjust the number of members of the House of Commons and the representation of the provinces therein.
Bill C-19: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to political loans)
- This bill would amend the Canada Elections Act to require that loans be made by a financial institution, or by a political entity or electoral district association (EDA) affiliated with the borrower. Small loans could be made by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, provided that the total of the amounts of contributions, loans and guarantees not at any time exceed the lender's contribution limit.
CEO's Parliamentary Appearances
Transcripts of appearances are available on both the Elections Canada and the Parliament of Canada Web sites.
Procedure and House Affairs committee (PROC):
- Referendum regulation, state of election readiness, Report on the Evaluations of the 40th General Election of October 14, 2008 and CEO's recommendations report (October 8, 2009)
- Study of the Referendum Act (November 17, 2009)
- Supplementary Estimates C (March 18, 2010)
- Main Estimates 2010–2011 (May 25, 2010)
Contact with the ACPP
A teleconference on general election readiness was held on September 11, 2009, to review Elections Canada's election readiness plans and modifications in view of a pending election.
Following the distribution of draft discussion papers on a range of topics for the recommendations report, a round table was organized in the fall to further discuss the feedback provided by some ACPP members. A second meeting was held last April in Ottawa to discuss accessibility of the electoral process. During this meeting, a demonstration of the new on-line voter registration system was also presented to members.
Rose Henry et al. v. Canada (Attorney General)
On January 30, 2008, an action was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by individuals and groups challenging the constitutionality of the new voter identification requirements in the Canada Elections Act. The applicants claimed that the requirements will prevent electors from exercising their right to vote, as guaranteed by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While Elections Canada was a party to the litigation, its role was limited to explaining the administration of the rules. Elections Canada did not take a position as to the validity of the questions.
The Court ruled that while the new voter identification requirements restrict the right to vote, such a restriction is constitutionally justified as a means to prevent voter fraud and preserve confidence in the electoral process. The court's decision encourages Elections Canada to continue to explore alternate methods of voter identification for electors.
James Peter Hughes v. Elections Canada
A complaint was lodged by an elector who presented himself at his polling site for a by-election in March 2008 and for a general election in October 2008; on both occasions, the polling station was not accessible.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered Elections Canada to implement a number of remedial actions to improve the accessibility of its polling stations. Elections Canada is working with the elector, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities to ensure these orders are completed by February 2011.