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Annual Report on the Access to Information Act for the period ending March 31, 2014

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.

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act requires that the head of every institution subject to the Act prepare an annual report for tabling in Parliament. This report describes how Elections Canada administered its responsibilities under the Access to Information Act during the reporting period of April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014.

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 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. The role of the Commissioner is to protect the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Commissioner carries out his or her duties independent of any political or government interference and is assisted by investigators, lawyers and administrative personnel. In carrying out the mandate of the Commissioner's Office, the Commissioner is guided by the principles of independence, impartiality, fairness and good faith.

The Chief Electoral Officer also appoints the Broadcasting Arbitrator. 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 Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office is part of the Information Management Division within the Chief Information Officer Branch of the Integrated Services, Policy and Public Affairs Sector of Elections Canada. It 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 has three additional full-time staff as well as two part-time consultants, and it is further supported by a part-time FSWEP student.

The ATIP Office is responsible for the following activities: