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Thirty-sixth General Election 1997: Official Voting Results: Synopsis



OVERVIEW

PRELIMINARY REMARKS

Upon the dissolution of the House of Commons by the Governor General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada issued the writs for Canada's 36th general election on April 27, 1997. Polling day was set for June 2, 1997. The election period therefore lasted 36 days.

The end of the electoral process is marked by the completion of the return to the writ, whereby each returning officer reports to the Chief Electoral Officer the name of the candidate elected in his or her electoral district. Six clear days are required between the official addition of the votes and the return to the writ, to allow candidates or electors to request a recount. In the event of a recount, the return is presented as soon as the recount has been completed. The date for the return of the writs was set as June 23, 1997. All the returns were presented between June 10 and 23, 1997.

Previously, the minimum length of an election period was 47 days. However, this election was the first to be held since a series of amendments to the Canada Elections Act were passed on December 18, 1996. One of the major changes was the creation of the National Register of Electors, which eliminated the need for door-to-door enumerations and made it possible to shorten the minimum election period from 47 to 36 days. The various milestone dates on the election calendar were changed accordingly.

In addition, polling day voting hours are now staggered from one time zone to another so that polling stations close at almost the same time throughout Canada.

At dissolution of the House of Commons on April 27, 1997, the Liberal Party of Canada formed the government and held 174 of the 295 seats, or an absolute majority (see Figure A). The Bloc Québécois, which formed the Official Opposition, held 50 seats as did the Reform Party of Canada. (The Bloc Québécois won 54 seats and the Reform Party won 52 in the 35th general election.) The New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada together held 11 seats, while six seats were held by independent members and four seats were vacant.



FIGURE A
Distribution of seats, by political affiliation, upon dissolution
of the 35th Parliament

Figure A



ELECTORAL DISTRICTS

The electoral districts were new for this election. The electoral boundaries were changed by the Representation Order of January 8, 1996, which came into force when the House was dissolved. The changes were made as part of the periodic review aimed at adjusting elected representation to population changes and growth. Pursuant to the Constitution Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, such a review is conducted after every decennial census. The 1996 review followed the 1991 census.

The boundaries were changed in 264 of the 295 existing electoral districts, and six new electoral districts were added: four in Ontario and two in British Columbia. The total number of electoral districts thus increased to 301.


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