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Annual Report on the Access to Information Act
For the period ending March 31, 2011

1. Introduction

The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to extend the present laws of Canada to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government agency, according to the principles that government information should be available to the public, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific, and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer became subject to the Access to Information Act on April 1, 2007, and this is its fourth annual report submitted to Parliament in accordance with section 72 of that Act. The report presents an overview of the agency's activities and describes how the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office carried out its responsibilities under the Access to Information Act during the reporting period of April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.

1.1 Mandate of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, commonly known as Elections Canada, is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament. Its mandate is to:

In fulfilling its mandate, Elections Canada appoints, trains and supports 308 returning officers, and retains the services of approximately 30 field liaison officers across Canada. It also maintains the National Register of Electors, which is used to prepare preliminary lists of electors at the start of electoral events, as well as electoral geography information, which provides the basis for maps and other geographic products used during electoral events.

The agency also:

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner of Canada Elections and the Broadcasting Arbitrator. The role of the Commissioner is to ensure that the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Broadcasting Arbitrator is responsible for allocating free and paid broadcasting time among political parties and for arbitrating disputes that may arise between parties and broadcasters.

1.2 Structure of the Access to Information and Privacy Office

The ATIP Office is part of the Legal Services Sector and is managed on a full-time basis by the agency's ATIP Coordinator, to whom the Chief Electoral Officer has delegated his authority under section 73 of the Access to Information Act. A copy of the delegation order setting out the responsibilities under that Act appears in Appendix I of this report.

The ATIP Office is responsible for the following activities:

In the course of the reporting period, Elections Canada prepared to consolidate functions related to information management, records management and ATIP under the Chief Information Officer Sector. This change, effective April 1, 2011, aims to raise the focus on information management and bring more coherence to it, including the management of personal information. A second delegation of authority, signed March 17, 2011, is part of this consolidation process (see Appendix I).