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2000 General Election Post-event Overview


2. Candidates, Political Parties and Third Parties

Overall, candidates, representatives of political parties and third parties expressed positive views of Elections Canada's role in the election and how it administered the Canada Elections Act. Generally high satisfaction rates were also expressed with most of the services, supplies and training materials provided by Elections Canada, and with the processes for nominating and verifying candidates and for registering third parties.

Across the different groups of respondents, most agreed with enforcing funding and spending regulations for political parties and candidates. It was also noted that allocation of broadcasting time should be made more equal for all legitimate political parties.

2.1 Services and Materials

Phone line services

Candidates and political party representatives showed ambivalence about whether or not they were satisfied with the 1 800 support network for parties and candidates. By contrast, most third-party representatives were satisfied with Elections Canada's response to their questions about third-party registration.

Training

Returning officers were generally very satisfied with the training provided to themselves and to their staff, but reported that more training could have been helpful.

Nineteen percent of candidates expressed some dissatisfaction with the training provided to candidates, official agents and auditors. Most political party representatives indicated an average degree of satisfaction with the training provided to candidates, official agents and auditors.

Election materials

A large majority of candidates found that the candidate nomination kit prepared by Elections Canada was complete, and were satisfied with its distribution. They were also generally satisfied with the maps and financing information provided. Representatives of political parties were satisfied with the maps provided.

Third-party representatives expressed a high level of satisfaction with the third-party registration kit and handbook.

Returning officers reported that the guides for candidates and political parties were useful. They further felt that the quality of training materials for election officers and staff were adequate. They generally expressed a high degree of satisfaction with all the material provided to them for fulfilling or assisting in their tasks, but were slightly less satisfied with the geographic materials. They also indicated that the computer systems and software and the telephone systems needed improvements.

Suggestions for improving services, materials and training Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by returning officers
Improve the 1 800 support network for parties and candidates x x  
Establish more permanent liaison with Elections Canada x x  
Improve training for candidates, official agents and auditors x x  
Improve the accuracy of geographic materials     x

2.2 Nomination, Verification and Registration Processes

Nomination process

A large majority of candidates (90 percent) found the nomination papers easy to complete. They were also satisfied with the rules for candidate nominations.

Conversely, representatives from political parties generally disagreed that the candidate nomination papers were easy to complete. The majority of political party representatives had no specific opinion about candidate nomination deposits, nor whether they were satisfied with the rules for the nomination of candidates. The majority, however, reported not having encountered any difficulties with the official receipt process.

Returning officers were satisfied with the information about nomination of candidates that was provided to them through the returning officer's manual, particularly for its consistency with the information provided to candidates.

Verification process

A large majority of candidates agreed that the verification process went well. About half of the candidates and the majority of returning officers agreed that the new verification process, requiring that the nomination papers (including the 100 signatures) be verified within 48 hours, encouraged more candidates to file early. Representatives of political parties, however, did not think that the new verification process encouraged more candidates to file early.

Third parties' registration process

About three in four third parties (76 percent) were satisfied with the third-party registration process, reporting that it was easy and simple and the rules clear. Most of them indicated that the third-party registration process went smoothly.

Suggestions for improving the nomination, verification and registration processes Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by returning officers
Simplify nomination and verification paperwork   x x
Improve the training of candidates, official agents and auditors x x  
Allow candidate nominations to begin before an election is called x    

2.3 Election Financing, Political Broadcasting and Advertising

Candidates and political parties

The 2000 CES highlighted the fact that 94 percent of electors think that the public has the right to know from whom and where political parties and candidates get their campaign funds. Similarly 93 percent of the electorate think that there should be a limit on how much money political parties and candidates can spend, and 65 percent think that there should be a limit on how much money people can contribute to parties and candidates.

Candidates generally agreed that the reimbursement scheme for political parties and for candidates is fair. However, a majority of them would support making the reimbursement formula the same for political parties and candidates.

Candidates and political party representatives generally endorsed the idea of limiting private and corporate donations to candidates and political parties. Candidates, political party representatives and academics generally supported disclosure requirements for local associations, political party leadership contests, contributions to members of Parliament between elections, and candidate nomination meetings. However, neither candidates nor political parties felt that contributions should have to be disclosed immediately after they were received.

Academics generally supported rules limiting contributions and election expenses. They also highlighted the fact that election expenditures needed to be redefined, suggesting that polling research and daycare expenses should be counted as election expenses.

Political parties strongly disagreed that the allocation of free and paid broadcasting time under the Canada Elections Act is fair. Academics indicated that allocating broadcasting time based on prior election results favoured larger parties; consequently equality for all legitimate parties is the first principle that should, in their opinion, guide the allocation of broadcasting time.

Third parties

During the 2000 election campaign, third parties advertised mostly in newspapers and on the radio. Almost all third-party advertising campaigns focussed on a specific issue.

The majority of third-party representatives indicated that the spending limits for third-party advertising were too low, as they had planned to spend more than was allowed. More than half of them agreed that there has to be a limit to the amount of money individuals can donate to third parties.

Third-party representatives also reported that the disclosure rules for third parties were not too stringent for them. Academics felt that requirements for disclosure should be increased for third parties. Representatives of registered third parties and academics both identified a need to define the meaning of "advertising" further.

When asked whether they found the new third-party regime had a positive impact on their campaign, most candidates indicated an improvement compared to 1997. Political party representatives, however, were ambivalent.

Suggestions for improving election financing, political broadcasting and advertising Made by electors Made by candidates Made by political parties Made by academics Made by third parties
Enhance disclosure requirements and regulation of contributions and election expenses x x x x  
Make the allocation of broadcasting time more equitable for all parties   x x x  
Close all remaining loopholes in election financing       x  
Redefine what election expenses include       x  
Further define the term "advertising"       x x
Increase spending limits for third parties         x