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Electoral Insight - Reform of Election Financing: Canada, Great Britain and the United States

Electoral Insight – May 2002

Electoral News in Brief

Change to Tax Forms Agreement to Add More Electors to Voters Lists



Photo : Wayne Brown
The change to the agreement between Elections Canada
and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency will facilitate
youth registration and participation in the
federal electoral process.

It is now easier for new electors to add their names to the National Register of Electors. As the result of a May 2001 change to the existing agreement between Elections Canada and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), starting this year Canadian citizens are able to indicate on their income tax forms their consent to be added to the Register.

The National Register of Electors is a database of Canadians who are qualified to vote, maintained by Elections Canada. It contains basic information about each elector – name, address, gender and date of birth. Canadians may choose whether to have their names listed in the Register. The information in the Register is used to produce the preliminary voters lists for federal elections, by-elections and referendums. It may also be used to produce voters lists for provinces, territories, municipalities and school boards that have signed agreements with Elections Canada, as permitted by the Canada Elections Act and provincial statutes.

This change to the agreement with the CCRA continues an already successful collaboration. The previous agreement between Elections Canada and Revenue Canada (CCRA's predecessor) in 1997 resulted in a consent box on tax forms that electors could check to have their name and address information forwarded to Elections Canada to update their existing records in the Register. This initiative was a resounding success – some 84 percent of tax filers in the 2000 tax year consented to the transfer of their information to update the Register. CCRA data have been instrumental in updating elector records to reflect moves that have occurred since the general election of 1997 when the Register was established.

Despite this success, it became clear that the Register's coverage of electors – and particularly of young voters – could be improved if new names could also be added from tax information, using an active consent initiative. Elections Canada wrote to some 550 000 18-year-olds during the springs of 1999 and 2000, asking their consent to be added to the Register; however, a disappointingly low 25 percent responded. An evaluation of the mail-outs conducted in the summer of 2000 revealed, among other things, that many 18-year-olds mistakenly believed that they had been automatically added to the Register because they consented on their tax returns to have their information transferred to Elections Canada.

Following the November 2000 general election, consultations took place with the CCRA and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to amend the authorization question on the tax form and the Elections Canada section in the tax guide. As a result of these changes, consenting Canadian tax filers who are already in the Register and whose name or address information has changed will have their records updated, while those who are not already in the Register will be added to it. The Elections Canada information page in the tax guide has been updated to reflect the changes.

It is anticipated that this new agreement will result in the addition of some 275 000 new electors per year, of which some 225 000 will be young electors. It is important to note that, as always, tax filers who do not consent to the transfer of their personal information still retain their right to vote in federal elections or referendums.

The Chief Electoral Officer's Recommendations to Parliament

modernizing the electroral process

The Canada Elections Act calls for the Chief Electoral Officer to make a report to the Speaker of the House of Commons after every general election, proposing amendments that he considers desirable for the better administration of the Act. On November 27, 2001, exactly one year after the 37th general election, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley submitted 75 recommendations to Parliament. The recommendations would improve transparency in election financing by increasing disclosure obligations and extending them to electoral district associations, and party nomination and leadership contests. Limits are recommended on all political contributions, other than to leadership contests, and on spending in party nomination contests. The recommendations also propose greater simplicity and clarity in the party and broadcasting systems under the Act, and a more modern and effective nomination process.

The Chief Electoral Officer explained that a number of recommendations in his report flow from the right of Canadians to know who is financing the political process in Canada. "This is essential for an informed vote and for maintaining the trust of Canadians in the integrity of the process and their continued participation in it," he stated. "Money counts, in politics as it does most everywhere else."

Among the major financial recommendations is a proposal that there should be a reporting obligation where a local electoral district association, which is associated with a party required to file financial reports, has financial transactions. The person who is authorized by the association to carry out those transactions should be required to report those transactions annually to the Chief Electoral Officer. Electoral district associations play a significant role in the electoral process, but are currently only partially subject to disclosure. Also recommended are requirements that contributions and expenses related to contests for party endorsement or leadership be reported and published in the same manner as contributions to a candidate at an election campaign. At present, donations made to any contestant for the nomination of his or her party remain undisclosed. So too, are those to contestants for the leadership of their parties. "Let the sun shine on contributions and on expenditures by leadership candidates," stated Mr. Kingsley. The reporting and publishing requirements would apply to all candidates for party endorsement or leadership, regardless of the success of their campaigns.

The Chief Electoral Officer has also recommended that limits be placed on the contributions made to registered and eligible parties, electoral district associations, and candidates. Annual contributions would be restricted to $50 000 to each party and $7 500 aggregate to all electoral district associations of a party, from any single donor. Additional contributions would be permitted during the year of a general election at similar limits. In party nomination contests at the local riding level, contributions would be limited to $7 500 aggregate to all contestants of a party from any single donor. A similar limit would apply to contributions from a donor to each candidate at a general election or by-election, with an aggregate limit of $7 500 to all candidates of each party.

To further increase the transparency of election financing at the federal level, Mr. Kingsley recommended tightening the requirements for reporting the donations. The Act would be amended to make it an offence to make a contribution in a manner intended to hide the identity of the original source. All transfers made from provincial political entities to registered and eligible parties, to local electoral district associations of a registered or eligible party, or to a candidate would also be required to be fully reported to the Chief Electoral Officer.

The report to Parliament also proposes that there should be only two types of political parties under the Canada Elections Act – eligible parties and registered parties. The definition of eligible parties would be simplified to include all organizations that exist as political parties, that comply with the administrative requirements of the Act, and that have, in a general election, between 1 and 49 confirmed candidates for election to the House of Commons. A registered party would continue to be one that meets all administrative requirements and that endorses at least 50 candidates in a general election. All eligible and registered parties would be entitled to the same rights and subject to the same obligations (including disclosure and reporting), except for rights to public funding and free broadcasting time, which would be restricted to registered parties. This would include giving eligible parties the same rights as registered parties respecting access to annual and final lists of electors, and to provide that the list for a district should be distributed to all registered and eligible parties on request whether or not they had run a candidate in that district in the last election. Spending limits for an eligible party would be determined in the same manner as spending limits for a registered party. Implementation of these recommendations would facilitate the emergence of new parties, correct existing inequities among parties and compel more complete financial disclosure by eligible parties. Party organizations that do not wish to be, or are not eligible to be, treated as political parties under the Act would fall under the third party regime.

Mr. Kingsley has also proposed that the threshold for candidates to be qualified for reimbursement of their expenses from the public purse should be reduced from 15 percent to 5 percent of the valid votes cast in their electoral district. This could result in a broader national participation, as it would improve access to public funding for new parties' candidates.

Another recommendation calls for the elimination from the nomination process of the requirement for prospective candidates to obtain the signatures of 100 electors (or, in sparsely populated electoral districts, 50 signatures). The change would reduce the administrative burden on a prospective candidate.

Also recommended is that the Canada Elections Act provide a means for a ballot to be declined, recorded, and reported as such in the official results in a way which is consistent with the principle of the secrecy of the vote. Several provinces and one territory already have such provisions.

Some of the recommendations seek to improve the management of the administrative processes involved in conducting elections. Among them is the proposal that the Chief Electoral Officer appoint returning officers for a 10-year term, on the basis of merit. Returning officers are now appointed by the Governor in Council. "This change would address the concern, often expressed by candidates, about this process and erase any perception that the appointees are not politically neutral," Mr. Kingsley stated. It would be implemented gradually, as present returning officers die, resign, reach the end of their terms, or when electoral district boundaries change. It has also been recommended that the Act be amended to remove the requirement for returning officers to solicit names from the candidates for potential deputy returning officers, poll clerks and registration officers, and from the registered parties when hiring revising agents.

The communication of ideas is vital to the electoral process, but the present system is not wholly effective in ensuring adequate broadcast access for political views during an election. Therefore, Mr. Kingsley has also proposed major revisions to the electoral broadcasting scheme, by recommending that the existing interrelationship between paid time and free time be severed. This would remove the need for registered parties that have no intention or ability to buy paid time to participate in a paid time allocation exercise. Only registered parties would have the right to free broadcasting time. Each registered party would have the right to buy up to 100 minutes of paid time per station, subject to its election expenses limit. In addition, 60 minutes of free time, divided equally among all registered parties requesting it, would be provided by all television stations (not just networks) that broadcast news or public affairs programming, and by all news/talk radio stations and specialty television stations focusing on news or public affairs.

Other proposals are intended to improve the ability of electors to ensure that they are properly registered in order to be able to vote. When another source of information has confirmed the eligibility of an elector, it should not be necessary for the elector to produce a signed certification of his or her eligibility in order to be added to the National Register of Electors under s. 49 of the Canada Elections Act. It should be possible to establish eligibility through any evidence, or combination of evidence, which is reasonably capable of establishing age and citizenship. This change would maximize the ability of electors to register. Elections Canada is currently studying the feasibility of enabling electors to confirm and update their registration information securely over the Internet. The Chief Electoral Officer is also seeking greater flexibility in notifying electors that they are registered and where they should go to vote. Notices advising electors of their registration could be sent to electors as soon as the writs are issued, and information about the location of polling stations could be sent later after the sites are confirmed.

More detailed information about the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations can be found in his report to Parliament, entitled Modernizing the Electoral Process. The report is available on the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca), where it can be viewed on-line or downloaded in PDF format and printed. A printed version can be obtained by clicking on "Publications" and using the on-line order form.

Advisory Committee of Political Parties

The Advisory Committee of Political Parties, which is chaired by the Chief Electoral Officer, has met four times since January 2001, making a total of 15 sessions since its inception in 1998. Its members include representatives of the registered and eligible parties. The committee discusses possible administrative and legislative changes to the electoral system. It also serves as a forum for the parties to bring forward their concerns and for the Chief Electoral Officer to keep them abreast of developments in the evolution of the electoral process.

During the February 9, 2001 session, the political parties shared their views on the conduct of the 37th general election, which was administered under the new Canada Elections Act, and suggested how the administration of elections in Canada could be improved. Three main topics were considered: voter registration, parties and candidates, and the voting process.

At the June 1 and October 4, 2001 sessions, the Chief Electoral Officer led discussion about the subjects and recommendations being considered for inclusion in his November report to Parliament. Issues discussed included nomination of candidates, allocation of broadcasting time, status of eligible parties, and election financing. On December 7, 2001, the Committee discussed the Chief Electoral Officer's report, the system for updating the National Register of Electors and the readjustment of electoral district boundaries.

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act

Sample ballot. Many real ballots could in the future contain more party names, as a result of the amended legislation.
Sample ballot. Many real ballots could in
the future contain more party names, as a
result of the amended legislation.

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act came into force on October 5, 2001, allowing some candidates whose parties are not registered to list a political affiliation on federal election ballots. The changes, which were tabled in the House of Commons and the Senate as Bill C-9, received royal assent on June 14, 2001. The legislation responds to a ruling in the summer of 2000 by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Previously, only the names of registered political parties could appear on federal election ballots. For registered status, a party was required to endorse confirmed candidates in at least 50 electoral districts in a general election. The Act now allows any political party that is eligible for registration and supports at least 12 confirmed candidates in a general election to show its name on the ballots in those electoral districts. In choosing 12 as the new threshold, the Government reasoned that for almost 40 years a political party with 12 members of Parliament has been recognized as an official party in the House of Commons.

As before, in a by-election, only the parties that supported sufficient candidates at the preceding general election (previously 50, now 12) can appear on the ballot. Candidates of a political party created after a general election may not indicate their political affiliation on by-election ballots.

Bill C-9 was introduced in February 2001 by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Don Boudria, following an August 2000 ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Figueroa v. Canada (Attorney General). Miguel Figueroa is the leader of the Communist Party of Canada, which had been registered under the Canada Elections Act since party registration began in 1974. During the 1993 federal general election, that party lost its status as a registered party, and all of the associated benefits, because it failed to meet the provision of the Act requiring the nomination of 50 candidates. The Court struck down the provisions of the Canada Elections Act confining the right to indicate political affiliation on the ballot to candidates of registered parties with 50 nominated candidates. It decided that limiting identification of political affiliation to registered parties infringed on the right to vote guaranteed by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes the right of all electors to vote in full knowledge of the facts. In the Court's opinion, the political affiliation of a candidate is basic information needed by electors to cast an informed vote.

In explaining Bill C-9, Mr. Boudria stated that the Government would amend the Canada Elections Act to comply with the ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal and its requirement that Parliament do so by August 16 of last year. As for setting the new threshold at 12 candidates, he stated, "In our parliamentary tradition, 12 MPs is already a significant number, since it takes 12 MPs in the House of Commons to form a political grouping under the House rules." The Senate passed Bill C-9 without amending it, but in its report the Senate's Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs noted some concerns the Chief Electoral Officer had expressed to it during a May 30, 2001 appearance. Jean-Pierre Kingsley referred to the Court's statement that voters have the right to know the political affiliation of the candidate. "I believe a single candidate representing a political party at a by-election should be allowed to have his or her political affiliation on the ballot, provided the party has fulfilled the requirements of the Act. It follows logically that a single candidate representing a political party at a general election should also be allowed to have his or her political affiliation on the ballot, provided the party has fulfilled the requirements of the Act." Mr. Kingsley added that to qualify as a party, any group is still required to have a registered leader, an official agent and an auditor, and to submit regular reports to the Chief Electoral Officer.

Mr. Kingsley also explained that the C-9 changes would not alter the financial benefits that are available only to parties that support at least 50 candidates in a general election. Those benefits include the right to issue tax receipts, the right to reimbursement of a percentage of election expenses, the right to receive excess funds from candidates, the right to participate fully in the allocation of time provided by broadcasters to registered parties (during prime time at preferential rates for the transmission of political announcements) and the right to receive the final voters lists. The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that these benefits can reasonably be reserved for political parties that demonstrate a certain level of commitment, and that the condition of supporting 50 candidates is a reasonable yardstick for assessing such commitment. Some elements of the Court's decision that relate to the issue of the benefits reserved for parties that support at least 50 candidates are the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Passage of C-9 also brought several other changes to the Canada Elections Act. The approval of the appropriate committee of the Senate has been added to the requirement that the Chief Electoral Officer seek approval from the appropriate committee of the House of Commons before carrying out studies on alternative means of voting, such as electronic voting. As well, the blackout provisions of the Act are harmonized to reflect that the blackout period for election advertising and publishing the results of election opinion surveys was reduced to polling day with the earlier passage of Bill C-2 in 2000. Meanwhile, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act was amended to refer to 10 electoral boundaries commissions, one for each province, rather than the previous 11 commissions. Since the Northwest Territories was divided into two territories, each with one electoral district, a boundaries commission for it is no longer required.

Compendium of Election Administration

Elections Canada has released, on its Web site, the 2001 edition of the Compendium of Election Administration in Canada. The Compendium is a comparative analysis of election legislation at the federal, provincial and territorial levels in Canada. It is prepared annually for the Conference of Canadian Election Officials, and was last updated for the July 2001 conference in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Also available on the Web site is the Comparative Overview, first compiled in 2001, which provides a comprehensive summary of the Compendium through texts and tables.

These publications cover the full range of electoral topics, including the process of readjusting electoral district boundaries, the registration of electors, the voting process and the nomination and registration of candidates. There is also information about political parties, local associations and third parties, election financing, and referendums, plebiscites, recalls and initiatives. As well, both publications include election and referendum statistics and a summary of major recent court cases dealing with electoral law.

Both the Compendium and the Comparative Overview may be viewed on the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca). Only the Comparative Overview is available in paper format, and is accompanied by a CD-ROM version of the Compendium. Copies can be ordered on-line (www.elections.ca) or by calling 1 800 463-6868.

Elections Canada Wins Mapping Award

Shown with the Elections Canada map presented at the ESRI conference are project manager Jose Santos, former Elections Canada cartographer Phillippe Palmer and Associate Director, Register and Geography, Maurice Bastarache.
Shown with the Elections Canada map presented at
the ESRI conference are project manager Jose Santos,
former Elections Canada cartographer Phillippe Palmer
and Associate Director, Register and Geography,
Maurice Bastarache.

Elections Canada won an important award from ESRI Inc. at the 21st Annual ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California, held in July 2001. Established in 1984, ESRI Canada is a Canadian-owned company specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) products and services. More than 10 000 people attended the conference, the largest gathering of GIS professionals in the world.

Elections Canada was recognized at the conference with a third-place award in the Best Software Integration category of the Map Gallery competition, in which hundreds of ESRI users displayed their maps. Entries were judged primarily for their ability to demonstrate creative and relevant integration of the many products in the ESRI software family with third-party products, to complete geographical analysis and to create maps.

Maurice Bastarache, Associate Director, Geography, at Elections Canada, is pleased with this award and proud of the Geography staff who pushed the technology to find innovative ways to produce electoral maps. Mr. Bastarache also mentioned that "ESRI's GIS products helped us to provide geographic support for the national election within a very short time frame and with significant savings in cost."

Elections Canada's presentation included a map depicting the distribution of Canadian federal electoral districts. It also described the creation of a mass-production system for maps and reports covering the entire country to support the 2000 general election. The system allowed Elections Canada to create and print more than 65 000 different electoral maps in various formats and scales, as well as over 137 000 pages of descriptive reports, such as polling division descriptions and poll keys. The production of these documents was completed in a period of just 10 weeks.

The ESRI software enabled the creation of distinct map designs to fit the needs of each electoral district. The various map formats produced included the overview map for each electoral district, cell maps, which are magnified portions of the overview, municipality maps for electoral districts with more than one municipality, and polling division maps, as well as inset maps for built-up areas of rural polling divisions. All of these were produced in over 800 variously scaled sizes to optimize the product quality.

To illustrate the quantity of maps produced, the electoral district of Berthier–Montcalm had the largest number of maps (489) and the electoral district of Nunavut had the fewest maps (61). The average for all 301 electoral districts across Canada was 217 maps, for a grand total of 65 317 map products.

Complete sets for each electoral district were sent to the headquarters of all Canadian political parties. Each member of Parliament received two complete sets for his or her electoral district. Sets for each electoral district were sent to the 301 returning officers across the country and subsequently distributed to the local riding associations and to the nominated candidates to help them plan their electoral campaigns. This totalled more than 6.7 million documents.

Improving the Payment Process

Following the 36th general election, Elections Canada recognized a need to review payment procedures for election workers. The existing process was complex and labour-intensive – both in the field and at Elections Canada. In redesigning the process, staff sought "low-technology" alternatives (e.g. policy/procedural changes) before resorting to computer-based solutions, and took into account the realities of a 36-day decentralized event by developing flexible, yet easy-to-learn procedures and minimizing duplication of effort.

Before the 37th general election, the Election Financing Directorate (recently renamed the Electoral Financing and Corporate Services Directorate) redesigned its multi-stream payment process into the Returning Office Payment System (ROPS). The new integrated payment management system has a clear accountability framework and measurable performance expectations and goals. It provided streamlined and simplified procedures to pay more than 160 000 election workers and landlords of premises used as polling sites at the 2000 general election, and to support a range of business requirements.

The need for specialized financial training for the returning officers and their accounting clerks was addressed with a Financial Systems Procedures and Training Manual on CD-ROM. The manual includes user guides, forms and documentation that staff would require over the course of an event.

Returning officers were encouraged to maximize the use of their acquisition cards. This resulted in more timely payments to suppliers and less documentation for both returning officers and Elections Canada.

ROPS helped returning officers track staff budgets, produce financial reports and generate the necessary forms and payment documentation for poll officials, office staff and landlords of polling stations. The documentation was transmitted to Ottawa, where payments are processed. Within a four-week period following the 2000 election, Election Financing processed over 95 percent of the payments to election workers and landlords.

Phase II of ROPS is in the final stages of completion. This phase is primarily the headquarters component, which must meet the government-wide Financial Information Strategy (FIS) requirement. The system will submit payment requests directly to Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and provide the Financial Information Management System with summary accounting transactions that meet accrual accounting requirements. In consultation with returning officers, the Electoral Financing and Corporate Services Directorate continues to review payment processes. The goals are to improve delivery of client services and to give returning officers more time to focus on their core responsibilities by minimizing burdensome administrative tasks.

Candidates' Electronic Returns

The election expenses returns for approximately 500 of the 1 808 candidates at the 2000 general election were prepared electronically, using the Electronic Candidate's Return (ECR). Candidates' official agents could use the computer application supplied by Elections Canada to record the information required to issue tax receipts and to import data from other accounting software programs.

The Canada Elections Act requires all official agents, on behalf of their candidates, to submit a return that discloses all contributions received and all election expenses incurred. The official agent is also required to file with the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (Taxation) a report of the total amount of contributions received and the total amount of contributions received for which official receipts for income tax purposes were issued. A return prepared by computer saves time, helps ensure all the needed information is included, and reduces the processing time at Elections Canada. The program also gives the agents the option of having Elections Canada print the tax receipts for them.

Elections Canada is planning improvements to the software for the next general election.

The Canada and the World Pavilion

One of the newest attractions in the nation's capital, the Canada and the World Pavilion, showcases the contributions of hundreds of Canadians who are making their mark around the world today. The contents of the new underground exhibition halls are designed to increase awareness of Canada's global presence and its achievements in the arts, sports, international co-operation, commerce, science and technology. The state-of-the-art exhibits and events include interactive displays, interesting programs and special activities.

The pavilion is located at 50 Sussex Drive, in picturesque Rideau Falls Park, just down the street from the official residences of the Prime Minister and the Governor General, on the international leg of Confederation Boulevard. It is sponsored by the National Capital Commission and several federal partners, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency, National Defence, the Communications Research Centre and the Canadian Space Agency.

The Elections Canada module in the pavilion outlines the agency's contribution to promoting and supporting fair elections in emerging democracies. In June of last year, Elections Canada held an election simulation at the pavilion to help young people learn about the electoral process. In keeping with the Canada and the World spirit, the participants voted for one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramids of Egypt received the most votes.

For more information about the pavilion and its activities, click on Special Events in the Youth section of the Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca).

International Activities

U.S. National Commission on Federal Election Reform

On June 5, 2001, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley presented testimony at a public hearing sponsored by the U.S. National Commission on Federal Election Reform, in Ann Arbour, Michigan. As a member of a panel established to provide international perspectives on electoral administration, the Chief Electoral Officer provided an overview of the management of elections in Canada. He spoke about the areas of electoral administration that were of particular interest to the Commission, including ballot design, absentee ballots, voter registration, the manual counting of ballots and the role of Elections Canada.

The Commission, organized by the Miller Center of Public Affairs of the University of Virginia and the Century Foundation, was formed in the wake of voting problems experienced during the 2000 U.S. presidential election and had an initial focus on standardizing methods for casting and counting votes across the United States. The June 5th hearing was the last of four hearings held in various U.S. locations. Members of the Commission, including the honorary co-chairs, former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, heard testimony from various experts in electoral administration, as well as from federal and state legislators, academics and interest groups.

In July, the Commission recommended that the individual states establish their own systems for voter registration. It also called for a modernizing of ballots and election equipment and said that voters challenged by poll workers should be allowed to cast provisional ballots whose validity would be determined later. The 19-member commission also stated that Congress should consider legislation to ban disclosure of any official results until 11 p.m. EST on election night, if the media is not willing to voluntarily refrain from airing state-by-state projections until all the polls in the continental United States have closed. The Commission also suggested that the U.S. election day be designated a federal holiday.

International Seminar on Money and Political Electoral Contests, Mexico

The Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada's Chief Legal Officer Diane Davidson, and Assistant Director of International Services France Demianenko participated in the International Seminar on Money and Political Electoral Contests, June 5–8, 2001, in Mexico City. They reviewed a discussion paper which stated, "we can assume that there will be a strong linkage between money and elections" and that "in the last two decades there have been important universal changes in what concerns politics, democracy and elections, that have not only made this connection more visible but which have also turned it into an issue of special interest and conferred on it priority status in the agendas for discussion and reflection in electoral-political matters."

Mr. Kingsley called for reforms to Canada's election financing system to correct "a few significant weaknesses in accountability." He stated, "Canadians have the right to know – they do not now – who contributes to the various campaigns that ultimately determine who will be elected, whether they be candidates for a party's leadership, or men and women campaigning for nomination as candidates. And they have no access to information about the financial activities of local party associations."

The organization of the seminar was promoted jointly by the United Nations, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power), Elections Canada, the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Branch of the Federation (TEPJF, Mexico) and the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, Mexico).

Elections Canada and the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) of Mexico also renewed, for another five years, their bilateral technical cooperation agreement. It was signed by Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, and IFE's President Councilor José Woldenberg Karakowsky and Executive Secretary Fernando Zertuche Muñoz.

CEO Chairs IFES Strategic Planning Process

Early last year, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley was appointed chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES). IFES is an international, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that has undertaken activities, including technical assistance, related to democracy and governance in more than 100 countries since 1987. Mr. Kingsley is a member of its board and was invited to lead the strategic planning work because of Elections Canada's extensive experience in developing and implementing its strategic planning process for the administration of elections.

The planning committee was formed in February of last year. In April, in Washington, it reviewed the draft plan prepared by the staff of IFES to set out the most urgent strategic issues. After further development work, in June, the IFES board adopted the new IFES Strategic Plan, which will be in place for the next three years. The committee reviewed the plan again in September, to determine the best methods for achieving its goals.

International IDEA's Democracy Forum 2001 in Stockholm

More than 250 information technology specialists and business leaders, election managers, policy makers, development experts and politicians from around the world met last year to explore the implications of the information technology revolution for democracy and its core values. They gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, in late June to participate in the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance's Democracy Forum 2001, entitled "Democracy and the Information Revolution: Values, Opportunities and Threats."

Keynote speakers at the Forum included Finland's President Tarja Halonen; European Union Commissioner Erkki Liikanen; Bangladesh's Grameen Bank President Muhammad Yunus; and Harvard University Professor Pippa Norris. Among the Canadians attending was former Assistant Chief Electoral Officer, International Services, Ron Gould. The Forum discussed the implications of the information revolution for democracy and its core values; opportunities for and threats to democratic governance from rapid information flow and access; and practical ways in which information technology is being and can be used to strengthen democracy. For more information about the Democracy Forum 2001, visit www.idea.int.

Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Retires

Ron Gould

Ron Gould, Elections Canada's Assistant Chief Electoral Officer for the past two decades, has retired after 47 years of public service.

At a reception honouring Mr. Gould on November 6 last year, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley stated that "I can think of no better summary of Ron's accomplishments and stature than the citation read at his induction as a Member of the Order of Canada by the Governor General in 1997:

Through his work with Elections Canada he has earned a worldwide reputation as the top "democracy salesman". He has been called upon to teach the theory and mechanics of Canadian elections to emerging democracies from Bulgaria to El Salvador to Cambodia, representing Canada with honour and integrity. In helping to build a better world community, perhaps his most important mission was as one of five commissioners responsible for setting up the epoch-making free elections in South Africa."

Mr. Kingsley concluded by saying "there you have the essence of Ron Gould – helping to build a better world community. A remarkable career, and a remarkable man."

The architect of Elections Canada's international program, Mr. Gould has taken part in electoral missions in at least 34 countries and areas, and in electoral consulting and planning in more than a dozen others. His advice has been sought by the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. He has headed or been actively involved in overseas electoral missions for the International Foundation for Election Systems, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), the National Democratic Institute of the Carter Center, and the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations, among others.

On November 6, retiring Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Ron Gould received a plaque thanking him for his 47 years of loyal public service.
On November 6, retiring Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Ron Gould
received a plaque thanking him for his 47 years of loyal public service.
The plaque, signed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, was presented by
Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley.

The United Nations Association in Canada awarded him its Medal of Honour in 1995, for his efforts on behalf of the UN. He organized the UN mission to Nicaragua in 1989, and led a fact-finding mission to Cambodia to help plan and organize the 1991 elections there. He directed the UN's Electoral Assistance Division in Mozambique, and took part in the UN's pre-electoral mission to Tanzania in 1995. He advised the Russian Election Commission in 1995 and was a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa in 1994.

In 1995, COGEL – the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws – presented him with its Outstanding Service Award in recognition, as COGEL's citation put it, "of his continued efforts to promote the highest level of ethical conduct amongst governmental officials and candidates for public office in the international arena".

Mr. Gould has published two books: Strengthening Democracy: A Parliamentary Perspective (1995), with Christine Jackson and Loren Wells, and A Guide for Election Observers (1995), with Christine Jackson, commissioned by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Despite his official retirement, Ron Gould will continue working part-time for Elections Canada on international assignments, and as a part-time senior executive with International IDEA, based in Stockholm, Sweden. He is currently organizing, on behalf of the Chief Electoral Officer, the COGEL conference to be held in Ottawa from September 29 to October 3 of this year.


Note: 

The opinions expressed are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.