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Performance Report – For the period ending March 31, 2013

Chief Electoral Officer's Message

I am pleased to present Elections Canada's 2012–2013 Departmental Performance Report, which highlights the agency's progress on its multi-year plans and priorities during the fiscal year.

During the past year, Elections Canada continued to support the work of the 10 independent commissions responsible for readjusting Canada's federal electoral boundaries by providing professional, financial and administrative services. Elections Canada fulfilled all of its responsibilities while remaining within budget.

In this regard, I would like to recognize the diligence with which the independent commissions carried out their mandate. The preliminary reports of the 10 commissions were published by February 2013, in accordance with legal requirements, and three final reports were submitted by March 31, 2013. In all, 136 public hearings were held across Canada, and more than 2,000 individuals submitted requests to appear before the commissions to provide feedback on the proposals. This represents more than double the number of submissions submitted during the previous redistribution exercise in 2002, demonstrating increased stakeholder engagement in the process.

I also want to highlight the responsiveness of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in considering the preliminary reports of the electoral boundaries commissions. As of March 31, 2013, the standing committee had completed its review for 6 out of 10 provinces. The draft representation order for the new electoral boundaries is expected to be completed in October 2013, giving political entities ample time to adjust to the new boundaries before the next general election.

During the reporting year, Elections Canada continued its ongoing activities related to electoral events. Political financing audits of the May 2011 general election were largely completed in 2012–2013. In the spring of 2012, I presented my report on the evaluations of the 41st general election. We also successfully delivered by-elections on March 19, 2012, in Toronto–Danforth and on November 26, 2012, in Calgary Centre, Durham and Victoria.

In keeping with its enduring goals of trust, engagement and accessibility, Elections Canada moved forward with its three-year plan of selected initiatives to provide electors with more varied and modern ways to register and vote.

To support this plan and ensure that it responds to Canadians' needs and expectations, we are increasing our engagement activities leading up to the next general election. Over the last year, we held meetings, scheduled appearances and presented draft reports to solicit feedback from the Advisory Committee of Political Parties and from parliamentarians through the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The agency also increased its engagement with groups who face barriers to the electoral process to better understand the issues they confront and to improve accessibility to voting for the 2015 general election. We continued our efforts to engage both young voters and future voters by working with a wide variety of partners to educate youth on the value of democracy and voting. We also worked with organizations representing persons with disabilities to ensure that our public website was fully accessible to these electors, and by March 31, 2013, this work was almost completed.

A new Commissioner of Canada Elections was appointed in July 2012 with the mandate to provide continued leadership in ensuring compliance with and enforcing the Canada Elections Act.

Issues that emerged following the May 2011 general election prompted the agency to realign some of its priorities over the period.

In response to incidents involving deceptive communications with electors, I presented a report to Parliament in March 2013. The report examines the preventive, compliance and enforcement measures that should be taken to deal with deceptive communications.

While the courts found no evidence of any ineligible voting in the riding of Etobicoke Centre during the May 2011 general election, the procedural and record-keeping errors on election day raised serious concerns about the ability to account for the conduct of elections. This is why I commissioned a report by an independent electoral consultant on ways to improve compliance with election day procedures. This report was published in April 2013.

Elections Canada has begun to develop administrative measures in response to the issues highlighted in both reports. However, administrative actions alone will not be sufficient to make the required improvements.

Those two reports present specific recommendations for legislative change designed to improve compliance, maintain Canadians' confidence in their electoral system and its administration, and improve the services they receive during an election. Legislative changes are required by spring 2014 to be enacted in time for the next general election in 2015, and I look forward to working with parliamentarians in this regard.

Marc Mayrand
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada