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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006

1. Activities Following the 38th General Election of June 2004


On June 28, 2004, Canadians voted in the 38th federal general election since Confederation. For Elections Canada, this election remained a focal point of activity well beyond polling day.

This chapter recounts how Elections Canada reviewed its performance in administering the 38th general election. We also summarize the tasks carried out after the election related to political financing and updating the National Register of Electors, as well as the work of the Commissioner of Canada Elections in enforcing the Canada Elections Act. Finally, we review a number of key activities following the June 2004 election that were not related to a specific electoral event.

1.1 Lessons Learned from the 38th General Election

This section looks at how analyses of our performance during the 38th general election have contributed to Elections Canada's continuous improvement efforts.

1.1.1 Post-election Evaluation Studies

Following the June 2004 election, Elections Canada participated in public opinion surveys to assist in evaluating and refining our services to the electorate and to develop the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations to Parliament. These surveys provided valuable information on the performance of new programs and helped identify opportunities for improvement.

The implementation of many "real-time" monitoring and reporting tools streamlined the overall evaluation effort. We focused on corporate themes and subjects essential for external and agency reports. Post-event evaluations included:

Additionally, each directorate embarked on internal reviews of activities related to the 38th general election – including new initiatives introduced since the 2000 election, such as our Field Liaison Officer Program and some new outreach programs. More than
40 evaluations examined how we were doing business, what worked well and what needs to be improved for future electoral events.

These assessments produced recommendations for numerous short- and long-term enhancements to our service delivery and election management, such as:

General Survey of Electors

Immediately after the 2004 election, Elections Canada commissioned a survey of public opinions, attitudes, knowledge of Elections Canada's services and various aspects of the electoral process, and individual experiences during the election.1

Findings from the 2004 General Survey of Electors
  • Nearly 85 percent of respondents said they received their voter information card. (The percentage was slightly lower among young and Aboriginal electors.)
  • Of the respondents who received a voter information card, 95 percent did not report any error in their personal information, such as registration status or address. (The percentage was slightly lower among young and Aboriginal electors.)
  • The advertising campaign made a strong impression: one respondent in two recalled seeing or hearing a non-partisan ad encouraging people to vote.
  • Some 56 percent of respondents recalled hearing the slogan "Why not speak up when everyone is listening?" The slogan was remembered better by young electors.
  • The vast majority of respondents thought that voting procedures were easy. Young and Aboriginal electors found voting methods slightly less easy.
  • More than 90 percent of respondents who voted said that they were satisfied with the distance they had to travel to the polling station and with the information they received there; 96 percent said they were satisfied with the language spoken at the polling station.
  • The main reasons mentioned for not voting were lack of interest, not knowing for whom to vote and lack of time. Very few respondents mentioned administrative reasons for not voting.
2004 Canadian Election Study

Elections Canada also contributed to the 2004 Canadian Election Study (CES), an academic study of Canadian federal elections. We have partnered with the CES since the 1997 general election.

The CES conducted three successive surveys of a single group of respondents:

  1. Campaign period survey: 30-minute telephone interviews with an initial sampling of 4,325 Canadian electors, conducted throughout the campaign period (May 23 to June 28, 2004).
  2. Post-election survey: 30-minute telephone interviews with 3,138 of the campaign survey respondents, conducted in the three weeks following election day.
  3. Mail-back questionnaire: a printed questionnaire sent to everyone who responded to the post-election survey; of this group, 1,674 returned a completed questionnaire.
Findings from the 2004 Canadian Election Study
  • One third to one half of all respondents said that they had no opinion on matters related to political financing. Those who had an opinion were mostly in favour of the new financial provisions of the Canada Elections Act, including the ceiling on contributions, the ceiling on nomination expenses, the ban on contributions by corporations and unions directly to parties, and the registration of electoral district associations.
  • Some 82 percent of all respondents favoured a ban on buying large quantities of party memberships for distribution.
  • Some 97 percent of all respondents thought that party membership should be open only to electors – Canadian citizens aged 18 or over – rather than citizens aged 14 or over or non-citizens.
  • While 44 percent of all respondents did not find the under-representation of women in the House of Commons to be problematic, some 27 percent were concerned, and 20 percent were in favour of legislation specifying steps that parties must take to increase the proportion of women candidates in elections.
  • Some 78 percent of respondents – particularly older electors – saw the low turnout of young electors as a problem.
  • Families and schools were perceived to have the main responsibility for educating young electors about the democratic process, ahead of political entities, youth organizations and Elections Canada. On a 1–5 scale where 1 equalled "none" and 5 equalled "a lot," respondents considered that parents (4.4) and schools/teachers (4.0) had the most responsibility for encouraging teenagers to learn about elections, before youth organizations (3.6), Elections Canada (3.6) and political parties/candidates (3.4).
  • Some 83 percent of all respondents were opposed to lowering the minimum voting age for federal elections.

A link to the report of the 2004 Canadian Election Study is available at, under Electoral Law, Policy and Research > Policy and Research. The Canadian Election Study database for the 38th general election is available at

Youth Turnout Analysis

After the 2000 general election, the CES identified a declining trend in turnout among the youngest voters. In 2002, Elections Canada commissioned a major study by professors Jon Pammett, of Carleton University, and Lawrence LeDuc, of the University of Toronto. Their research found that just over 25 percent of 18–24-year-olds had voted in the 2000 federal election.

Further studies in partnership with Pammett and LeDuc, as well as with the CES, revealed that the decrease in turnout among Canada's youngest electors was having an effect on the overall voter participation level within Canada. The studies also showed that, while youth were less likely to vote, they were not necessarily cynical about the electoral process.

Following the June 2004 election, Elections Canada began a unique study to determine actual voter turnout among different age groups by analyzing samples of voters lists. Our findings showed that first-time voters (those between 18 and 21½ years of age) had a 39 percent voter turnout.2 This made them about 4 percent more likely to vote than those voting for their second time (those between 21½ and 24 years of age).

As indicated in Chapter 4, Elections Canada is conducting a similar study after the 39th general election to find out if any clear trends emerge.

The 2004 report on youth participation can be found at, under Electoral Law, Policy and Research > Policy and Research > Estimation of Voter Turnout by Age Group at the 38th Federal General Election.

Returning Officers' Reports of Proceedings

Under section 314 of the Canada Elections Act, every returning officer (RO) must send a report on the election in his or her riding to the Chief Electoral Officer soon after the return of the writ. These reports help identify where improvements to procedures are needed – a starting point in preparing for the next general election.

Highlights of the 2004 Returning Officers' Reports of Proceedings
  • Overall, ROs reported the 2004 general election (and polling day, specifically) as a positive experience.
  • ROs were relatively satisfied with the support available to them.
  • ROs were most satisfied with the services provided by Canada Post and IBM, but they were less satisfied with the services performed by phone companies, particularly with the installation of telephone systems.
  • Over three quarters of ROs agreed that the pre-event planning assignments they carried out helped them prepare for the election.
  • A significant proportion of ROs felt that more training time was needed for staff, and some suggested improvements in the geographic products they received.
  • Satisfaction with training kits and other manuals provided by Elections Canada was generally high.
  • ROs were satisfied with the availability of the field liaison officers who assisted them during the election.
Field Liaison Officer Program

In 2003, the Chief Electoral Officer created a new position – that of field liaison officer (FLO) – to provide local support to ROs and their staff. The 24 new FLOs would report directly to the Chief Electoral Officer and the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, while working with ROs to improve service quality and help solve problems.

Following the 2004 general election, evaluation of the new Field Liaison Officer Program demonstrated that it was a clear asset in supporting ROs during and between election periods. FLOs were also able to provide on-the-ground feedback and analysis to assist Elections Canada's Executive Committee in managing the election.

Questionnaires Sent to Members of Parliament

On November 15, 2004, the Chief Electoral Officer wrote to all members of Parliament to seek their comments on the administration of the 38th general election. MPs were also invited to report any problems they encountered with polling site and electoral office locations and to propose solutions.

Most of the 64 responses to our invitation warranted a follow-up by the ROs in those electoral districts. As a result of this exercise, ROs provided Elections Canada with a summary of the concerns identified, their subsequent discussions with MPs and an appropriate plan of action for the next election. This plan was then sent to MPs for confirmation that it addressed the matters reported.

1.1.2 Lists of Electors

The National Register of Electors is a database with the names, addresses, genders and birthdates of some 22.7 million Canadians who are eligible to vote. The Register is continuously updated from federal, provincial and territorial data sources to reflect changes in the Canadian electorate. Elections Canada produces updated lists of electors from the Register in October of each year for MPs and political parties, as required by the Canada Elections Act.

Better Service for Electors: The Income Tax Consent Box

Before someone can be added to the Register, that person's citizenship must be confirmed. The consent box on the income tax form – used by electors to consent to their information being added to or updated in the Register – currently consists of one sentence. It states that the person is a Canadian citizen and consents to his or her information being sent to Elections Canada.

Seeing both statements in one sentence has confused some non-citizen taxpayers, who check the box, intending to consent to their information being shared, without realizing that they are also certifying their citizenship. This happens frequently enough that Elections Canada does not rely on the consent box to add electors to the Register without first verifying citizenship in other ways.

In 2005, we mailed some 621,000 confirmation forms to potential electors who either had checked the box on the tax form or were youths identified from driver's licence files. Over 105,000 people confirmed that they were Canadian citizens and requested to be added to the Register, while another 21,000 indicated they were not citizens and were not added.

We continue to work with the Canada Revenue Agency towards modifying the income tax form to include a separate check box for confirming citizenship, to allow the addition of new electors directly. This would be especially useful for registering youths and other first-time voters, and it would generally provide better service to electors with considerable savings in registration costs.

At the issue of the writs for an election, the Register is used to produce the preliminary lists of electors, which are shared with every confirmed candidate. Every elector appearing on the preliminary lists receives a voter information card. ROs print revised lists for advance voting and official lists for use on election day. Both lists are again shared with candidates. Electors registering on polling day are added to the official lists to create the final lists of electors. These lists are distributed to MPs and to parties after the election and used to update the Register.

More than 2 million changes from the final lists of the 38th general election, including registrations, corrections and removals, were entered into the Register.

In less than 18 months, between the integration of the 38th general election changes and the start of the 39th general election, some 760,000 electors, mostly aged 18 to 24, were added to the Register. Another 302,000 deceased electors were removed from the lists, while over 4.5 million changes were made to reflect elector moves and address improvements, consistent with Statistics Canada's estimates of demographic change for this period. This reflects the intensive Register maintenance program required to ensure readiness in a minority government situation. Our usual administrative sources were augmented with updates from provincial elections in both Alberta and British Columbia before the 39th general election.


Maintaining the Register is becoming an ever more collaborative effort. Political parties and MPs share responsibility with ROs for assisting us in keeping it accurate and up to date; however, there are opportunities for further improvement in this area. We also have ongoing partnerships with federal agencies, and we are increasingly sharing the Register with provinces, territories and municipalities to help them produce lists of electors for their own elections.

Partnering with Federal Agencies

Elections Canada has established long-term partnerships with two key federal agencies for the purpose of acquiring vital information to update the Register.

From Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), we receive lists of new Canadians who, upon being granted citizenship, consent to being added to the Register – in 2005, some 94 percent of new citizens did so, up 1 percent from the previous year.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), meanwhile, remains one of the most important sources of data for the Register, providing information volunteered on tax returns by tax filers; in 2004, some 84 percent consented to have their names, addresses and dates of birth transmitted to the Register, an increase of 1 percent over the previous year.

New agreements concluded with the CRA and CIC came into effect on July 1 and October 1, 2005, respectively. They allow information to be sent to the Register on a monthly basis, helping to increase its currency.

Partnering with Provincial and Territorial Agencies

Collaboration with provincial, territorial and municipal electoral agencies remains a core component of the Register program – particularly as more provinces are working closely with Elections Canada to establish permanent registers for their jurisdictions. These partners are an important source of elector information for the Register. Elections Canada currently holds some 40 agreements with various federal, provincial, territorial and municipal agencies to support voter registration (data-sharing partnerships that have resulted in significant savings for Canadians over the past decade). The agreements are listed in Appendix I of this report.

In 2005, Elections Canada provided data and assistance to the electoral agencies of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. For example, once the final lists of electors for the 38th general election were integrated into the Register, Elections BC used the data to prepare for the 2005 provincial election and add more than 600,000 new electors to the provincial register; this enabled them to forgo a province-wide enumeration, resulting in a cost savings to British Columbia of some $11 million. The provincial lists, further revised during the B.C. election, were subsequently returned to Elections Canada to update the Register once more. Sharing electoral information not only provides cost savings but also improves coverage and currency of elector information, and hence customer service.

We have continued to work with Elections Ontario and the province's Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) on developing a single source of elector information for Ontario. This collaboration enables Elections Canada to benefit from the close working relationship between MPAC and municipalities and their timely information on property and address changes. Revisions from the 39th general election will reduce the number of households MPAC needs to contact in its municipal mail-out enumeration, resulting in further cost savings for taxpayers. Over the years, knowledge- and data-sharing through this co-operative relationship has helped each partner to enhance the quality of its electoral lists, reduce duplication of effort and improve administrative efficiency. The tripartite work demonstrates Elections Canada's commitment to fostering leadership in electoral initiatives.

The Register advisory committee, with representation from provincial, territorial and municipal partners, meets twice annually. Discussions focus on how we can continue to co-operate on voter registration. Together we are continually improving the Register – in particular, to ensure that youth are registered, that addressing is improved, especially in rural areas, and that the Register is up to date.

Cost Savings Through the Register

The National Register of Electors saves taxpayers a significant amount of money. Estimates indicate that $30 million net was again saved during the 39th general election, compared with the cost of door-to-door enumeration. At the federal level, the cumulative cost avoidance attributable to use of the Register, as of March 31, 2006, is estimated to be some $110 million. An additional $42 million in savings has been generated at the provincial and municipal levels. The total combined savings to date are estimated at over $150 million.

Register Data Quality Measurement Program

In January 2005, Elections Canada initiated a review of the Register Data Quality Measurement Program. The purpose was to improve the model used to calculate the quality of the Register, to obtain a more accurate assessment of the quality of the lists and to provide information that meets stakeholder needs.

The process consisted of a review of documentation and quality management methods used by other organizations, and academic consultation. Interviews were conducted with internal and external stakeholders, including FLOs, ROs, provincial and territorial electoral agencies and directorates within Elections Canada.

As a result of this exercise, we were able to make plans to improve the quality measurement process, including automating the quality model and incorporating an annual benchmarking study to validate the measures it produced. One change made immediately was to incorporate an adjustment from Statistics Canada's Census of Population to take into account electors missed during the Census (referred to as the "Census net undercount"). This resulted in an increase of 2.5 percent to the national electoral population, which was reflected in an equivalent decrease in both coverage and currency – a more accurate, and therefore more useful, assessment of Register quality.

Voter Registration Review

To continue to improve voter registration services, we examined the broader requirements of voter registration since the Register was created in 1997, as well as the opportunities afforded by the evolution of technology and business practices. Elections Canada launched the Voter Registration Review in June 2005. This strategic initiative covers both the updating of the Register between elections and the revision of lists of electors during elections, and is ongoing. Please see Chapter 4 for further details.

1.2 Legal Affairs

1.2.1 Enforcing the Canada Elections Act

By April 5, 2006, the Commissioner of Canada Elections had received 1,574 complaints stemming from the June 2004 general election. Of these, 1,321 cases have been resolved, while 253 remain open. In settling some cases, the Commissioner has, to date, concluded a total of 17 compliance agreements with contracting parties. Additionally, one prosecution arising from the 37th general election (for failure to register as a third party and to file an election advertising report) ended with a conviction, on January 6, 2006.

The new financial provisions of the Canada Elections Act brought about by Bill C-24 accounted for 675 complaints in 2004–2005, most dealing with failure to provide the nomination contest report or registered association financial transactions return within the prescribed time limit. Of these cases, 670 have been resolved, while 5 remain open.

The Commissioner is continuing to review all open cases and may conclude further compliance agreements or initiate prosecutions, as necessary.

Details of convictions and compliance agreements are published at, under Electoral Law, Policy and Research > Commissioner of Canada Elections.

1.2.2 Civil Suits

Seven civil suits were brought against Elections Canada by various parties for matters related to the 38th general election. Details of these cases, including their outcomes, are documented in Appendix II of this report.

1.3 Political Entities

1.3.1 Registered Parties

At the conclusion of the 38th general election, there were 12 federally registered political parties in Canada.

A registered party is required to file up to three financial disclosure returns – one for expenses incurred in a general election, an annual financial transactions return for each fiscal year and (since January 2005) quarterly returns on contributions and transfers for parties in receipt of the quarterly allowance under section 435.01 of the Canada Elections Act. All returns are posted at, under Election Financing.

Election Expenses Returns

The 12 registered parties at the 38th general election were required to file their election expenses returns by December 28, 2004. Ten parties filed on time, with the other two requesting and receiving extensions under the Act. The extended deadlines were met in both cases.

Election Expenses Reimbursements

The Act provides for reimbursement of a percentage of the election expenses incurred by registered parties in a general election. For the 38th general election, which closely followed the coming into force of the new political financing regime on January 1, 2004, this percentage was set at 60 percent; later elections have a 50 percent entitlement. Only registered parties that have filed their election campaign returns and that received at least 2 percent of all votes cast in the general election, or 5 percent of those cast in electoral districts where they ran candidates, are eligible.

Table 1.1 Reimbursements to Registered Political Parties 38th General Election, 2004
Registered Political Party Reimbursement
Bloc Québécois $2,704,518.67
Conservative $10,370,554.15
Green Party $298,907.63
Liberal $9,962,716.92
N.D.P. $7,211,358.75
Total $30,548,056.12

Based on the election expenses reported, five eligible parties received election expenses reimbursements totalling $30,548,056.

Annual Financial Transactions Returns

Registered parties were required to file their fiscal returns for 2003 by June 30, 2004. Of the 12 registered parties in 2003, 7 filed within the deadline, 4 requested extended filing deadlines and 1 was not required to file. On December 7, 2003, the Conservative Party of Canada was formed by merging the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The newly formed party was not required to submit a return for 2003. However, both the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada filed their respective final fiscal returns, up to the date of the merger, on June 7, 2004. The first fiscal return as a merged party was due on June 30, 2005. All 11 registered parties that were required to file met the original or extended deadline for 2003.

The 2004 fiscal return was due on June 30, 2005. Thirteen registered parties were required to file an annual return for 2004. Eight filed within the deadline, one party voluntarily deregistered on January 23, 2004, and four parties requested extended filing deadlines. All 13 parties filed within their original or extended filing deadlines.

Quarterly Returns

Registered parties that received 2 percent of the valid votes cast, or 5 percent of the number of valid votes cast in the electoral districts in which they endorsed a candidate, are also eligible to receive quarterly allowances. As of January 1, 2005, registered parties receiving a quarterly allowance must file quarterly returns on contributions and transfers that they received in the previous quarter. The five registered parties receiving the allowance were required to submit the first three quarterly returns for 2005 before the 39th general election was called.

All quarterly returns to date have been filed within the deadline of 30 days after the end of the quarter. Quarterly allowances paid totalled $23,196,401 in 2004 and $24,425,091 in 2005.

Table 1.2 Quarterly Allowances Paid to Registered Political Parties (2004)
Registered Political Party Advance Paid in
Jan. 2004*
(Jan.–Dec. 2004)
3rd Quarter**
(July–Sept. 2004)
Payable or (Receivable)
4th Quarter**
(Oct.–Dec. 2004)
Payable Jan. 2005
Bloc Québécois $2,411,022 $0 $322,846
Conservative $8,476,872 ($563,360) $0
Green Party $0 $261,847 $261,847
Liberal $9,191,054 ($49,646) $0
N.D.P. $1,914,269 $12,958 $956,692

*Based on 37th general election of 2000.
**Based on 38th general election of 2004.

Table 1.3 Quarterly Allowances Paid to Registered Political Parties (2005)
Registered Political Party 1st Quarter*
(Jan.–Mar. 2005)
Payable Apr. 2005
2nd Quarter**
(Apr.–June 2005)
Payable July 2005
3rd Quarter**
(July–Sept. 2005)
Payable Oct. 2005
4th Quarter**
(Oct.–Dec. 2005)
Payable Jan. 2006
Bloc Québécois $755,740 $769,708 $769,708 $769,708
Conservative $1,807,734 $1,841,146 $1,841,146 $1,841,146
Green Party $261,847 $266,686 $266,686 $266,686
Liberal $2,240,772 $2,282,187 $2,282,187 $2,282,187
N.D.P. $956,692 $974,375 $974,375 $974,375

*With inflation adjustment as of April 1, 2004; based on 38th general election of 2004.
**With inflation adjustment as of April 1, 2005; based on 38th general election of 2004.

1.3.2 Nomination Contestants

As of January 1, 2004, nomination contests are regulated under the Canada Elections Act. This means that registered parties, or their registered electoral district associations, must report any nomination contest they hold. Between the 38th and 39th general elections, Elections Canada received 651 reports of nomination contests, naming 959 contestants.

Table 1.4 shows the number of reports submitted by registered parties for nomination contests held between the 38th and 39th general elections.

Table 1.4 Nomination Contests by Registered Party
Registered Party No. of Contests
Bloc Québécois 73
Christian Heritage Party 13
Conservative 176
Green Party 33
Liberal 223
N.D.P. 132
PC Party 1
Total 651
Nomination Contestant Returns

Nomination contestants are required, as of January 1, 2004, to file a financial transactions return if either their contributions or nomination contest expenses are $1,000 or more. Contestants' returns are due four months after the selection date for the contest (unless that date falls within 30 days preceding an election period in that electoral district, in which case the due date is four months after election day).

In all, 114 contestants filed returns related to contests held between the 38th and 39th general elections. Of those 114 returns, 93 were filed on time, while 21 were filed late.

1.3.3 Candidates in the 38th General Election

Filing of Election Campaign Returns

The deadline by which candidates were to have filed their election campaign returns for contributions, expenses and other financial transactions related to the 38th general election was October 28, 2004. Out of a total of 1,686 confirmed candidates,3 Elections Canada had received 1,673 complete candidate returns as of March 13, 2006. These returns were received either by the original filing deadline or within an authorized extension deadline.

The remaining 13 candidates (0.8 percent) did not file their returns and either did not seek an extension or missed the extended deadline granted by the Chief Electoral Officer.

Auditor Eligibility

All candidate returns must be accompanied by an auditor's report to be considered complete. Section 85 of the Act allows only persons or partnerships that are members in good standing of a corporation, association or institute of professional accountants to be auditors of accounts.4 Since candidates whose returns are not accompanied by a valid audit report are ineligible to run in future elections until the failing is corrected, those who found themselves in this situation often sought a judicial extension to have their returns reviewed by properly qualified auditors.

Reimbursement of Election Expenses

The Canada Elections Act provides for reimbursing the combined paid election and personal expenses incurred by eligible candidates, to a maximum of 60 percent of the spending limit in that riding. Elected candidates, and those receiving at least 10 percent of the valid votes in an election, are eligible, with initial reimbursements to be paid without delay after the return of the writs. For the 38th general election, 837 candidates were eligible for the initial reimbursement of 15 percent of the election expenses limit in their electoral districts. Initial reimbursements were issued on July 20, 2004, and totalled $9,845,291.

Final reimbursements are paid out, under section 465 of the Act, to candidates who meet the vote percentage criteria, have filed their election campaign returns on time and have unqualified audit reports. As well, the Chief Electoral Officer must be satisfied that the candidate and his or her official agent have complied with all requirements of subsection 447(2) and sections 451 to 462 and that the amounts reported are election expenses.

Elections Canada has completed reviews of the 1,673 complete candidate returns received. All reimbursements and audit subsidy payments have been processed for those files that satisfied the requirements for receipt of the payments.

Final election expenses reimbursements paid to candidates to date total $14,990,087 (this amount is net of any repayments related to initial reimbursement overpayments); when combined with the initial reimbursements, the total election expenses reimbursements paid to date are $24,835,377. Audit subsidy payments total $1,296,637.

A significant number of campaigns were required to file amended financial returns. For instance, 399 candidates were required to file an amendment due to errors or omissions, and 338 candidates paid claims after filing their returns and were required to file an amendment to reflect those payments.

1.3.4 Registered Electoral District Associations

At the conclusion of the 38th general election, there were 1,019 registered electoral district associations (EDAs) in Canada.

Table 1.5 Registered Electoral District Associations 38th General Election, 2004
Party No. of EDAs
Bloc Québécois 48
Conservative 305
Green Party 87
Liberal 308
N.D.P. 271
Total 1,019

An additional 121 associations were registered, and 7 deregistered, between the 38th and 39th general elections. Of the deregistrations, four were requested by the association and one by the party, while the others resulted from, respectively, a failure to file a required report and an electoral district boundary change.

Financial Returns for Deregistered Associations

On May 23, 2004, 20 EDAs were deregistered as a result of the change in electoral boundaries. These associations were required, by section 403.26 of the Canada Elections Act, to file final financial returns by November 23, 2004. Of these associations, 6 filed on time, 10 filed late and 4 have not filed returns.

At the call of the 39th general election, four associations still had not filed.

Financial Returns for Fiscal Year 2004

Associations registered before July 1, 2004, were required to complete and submit a financial transactions return by May 31, 2005, for the fiscal period ending December 31, 2004. An EDA that accepted contributions or incurred expenses of $5,000 or more during this fiscal period had to submit an auditor's report with the return. A total of 1,019 associations were required to submit a return: 591 met the May 31 deadline and 399 filed after that deadline. As of April 29, 2006, 21 associations had failed to file altogether and 8 had not filed an essential part of their report. Of those that failed to file altogether, four have been deregistered.

Failing to file a financial return as required by the Canada Elections Act is an offence and can also lead to the association being deregistered. An association that is unable to comply can request an extension to the filing deadline under section 403.41. Up to the end of five months after the related fiscal year, such requests are made to the Chief Electoral Officer; thereafter, they must be made to a court.

Training Sessions

In February 2005, Elections Canada presented 21 training sessions in major centres across the country for registered EDAs, to prepare them for the first filing under the new regulatory scheme. Attendance at these sessions is summarized in Table 1.6.

Table 1.6 Electoral District Association Financial Training Sessions (2005)
Political Affiliation Attendees
Bloc Québécois 42
Canadian Action 4
Christian Heritage Party 7
Conservative 170
Green Party 36
Liberal 132
Marxist-Leninist 2
N.D.P. 59
PC Party 5
Independent/No affiliation 85
Total 542

The objectives of the sessions were to help participants understand the obligations of an EDA, to show them how to navigate the Elections Canada Web site to locate information of interest and to help them become familiar with the Electronic Financial Return (EFR) software. Based on evaluation forms completed by attendees, the sessions were well received, with the majority of respondents suggesting a need for further training and information sessions. Of the respondents, 96 percent indicated that the sessions met the objectives and 88 percent were satisfied with the support given by Elections Canada.

1.3.5 Leadership Contests

Between the 38th and 39th general elections, two parties filed notices of leadership contests.

The Green Party of Canada held a leadership contest that ran from June 29 through August 28, 2004. Three contestants registered with Elections Canada. Each was required to file six financial reports: one on registration, four in the last month of the contest and one six months after the contest. Two contestants provided all of the required reports, with the third filing the initial and final returns only. The Libertarian Party of Canada held a leadership contest that ran from March 15 through May 22, 2005; no contestants registered with Elections Canada. Only a person who accepts contributions for, or incurs expenses in relation to, his or her leadership contest is required to register.

1.3.6 Third Parties

Third parties are groups or persons other than candidates, registered political parties and their EDAs. A total of 63 third parties were registered for the 38th general election. Each was required to file a return for election advertising expenses and related contributions with Elections Canada by October 28, 2004. Of these, 43 filed on time, 16 filed late and 2 should not have registered since they did not spend $500 or more on election advertising. The remaining two had still not filed their returns by the time the 39th general election was called. The total election advertising expenses reported were $717,979.

No third parties registered for the Labrador by-election of May 24, 2005. This was the only by-election to take place between the 38th and 39th general elections.

1.4 Other Activities

In addition to preparing for and administering federal general elections and referendums, Elections Canada fulfills many other responsibilities – some mandated by statute, others deriving from the agency's manifest duty as a focal point of democracy.

Among these responsibilities are the requirement to administer by-elections, to maintain relations with Parliament and political parties, to extend our electoral experience to the international community and to seek continuous improvement in our own operations.

This section looks at our activities in each of these areas in the period following the 38th general election.

1.4.1 By-elections

Between the 38th and 39th general elections, only one federal by-election was held in Canada. Elections Canada published the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the May 24, 2005, By-election Held in Labrador, in April 2006.

1.4.2 Relations with Parliament and Political Parties

Reports and Appearances
Official Reports

In the period between the 38th and 39th general elections (June 2004 through November 2005), the Chief Electoral Officer produced five official reports for Parliament. Three were informational reports following elections, as required by the Canada Elections Act, and two contained recommendations for legislative amendments.

Informational Reports
Recommendations Reports

Neither of these recommendations reports has yet been considered by the parliamentary committees responsible for electoral matters.

Estimates Reports

Elections Canada also produced three reports required by Treasury Board:

All of the Chief Electoral Officer's official reports are available at, under General Information > Official Reports.

Appearances Before Parliamentary Committees

Elections Canada has the duty not only to administer the electoral legislation but also to maintain transparency and accountability in how we go about it. As an officer of Parliament, the Chief Electoral Officer makes himself freely available to parliamentarians, each year making many appearances before committees of the House and Senate.

During the 18 months of the 38th Parliament, the Chief Electoral Officer made seven appearances before parliamentary committees. Please see Appendix III for details.

Advisory Committee of Political Parties

The Advisory Committee of Political Parties exists as a unique forum through which Elections Canada and registered political parties can share information, foster good working relationships, consult on legislative change and resolve administrative matters that may affect parties and candidates. Members include registered political parties represented in the House of Commons as well as registered parties without representation; the committee gives each party an equal voice.

Since the 38th general election, Elections Canada has held four meetings with members of the registered political parties represented on the committee. Among other topics, the committee has discussed the new political financing regime, the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations to Parliament and the main findings of the 2004 Canadian Election Study, including declining turnout among young voters.

Amendments to the Electoral Legislation

Elections Canada must continuously adapt to an evolving legal framework that affects the conduct of federal electoral events. Since the 38th general election in 2004, there have been 20 proposed amendments to electoral law. Of these, 4 were adopted and came into effect at or before the start of the 39th general election, while the remaining 16 were either defeated or died on the Order Paper at the dissolution of Parliament on November 29, 2005.

A complete list of amendments proposed between the 38th and 39th general elections is provided in Appendix IV.

1.4.3 Outreach Initiatives

Elections Canada pursues outreach activities on an ongoing basis. While some occur during election periods, others are undertaken between elections.

Aboriginal Peoples
Assembly of First Nations and Voter Education Campaign

In December 2004, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) adopted a resolution mandating a voter education campaign for First Nations peoples. Elections Canada and the AFN entered into a partnership, engaging in a number of co-operative efforts.

On September 20 and 21, 2005, the AFN held a national forum in Winnipeg – co-chaired by the Chief Electoral Officer and Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the AFN. Held to discuss First Nations voter turnout, the forum was attended by AFN regional representatives from across Canada, members of the AFN Executive Committee, former First Nations politicians, government officials and members of the media. For details on collaboration with the AFN during the election, see Chapter 3.

New Web Page

Elections Canada created a page for Aboriginal electors on its Web site. The page presents voter information in 11 Aboriginal languages and includes research and analysis, communications and educational products, operational initiatives and links to national Aboriginal organizations.

Information Kiosk

An information kiosk for First Nations about their participation in the Canadian electoral system was developed for display at various events. It informs Aboriginal peoples of the voter information assistance that is available to them by contacting Elections Canada.

"Seekers" Episode and DVD

Elections Canada also helped produce a special episode on voting for the youth-oriented TV show "Seekers," which aired on April 13, 2005, on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

As well, a DVD version of the episode was developed in both English and French. Some 3,000 copies have been distributed to date to such diverse groups as national Aboriginal organizations, provincial and territorial chief electoral officers, members of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties, returning officers, community relations officers, field liaison officers, band administrators, Inuit hamlets, Métis governments and Aboriginal media.

YouthLinks – Voices: Getting the Vote

Elections Canada worked with the Historica Foundation to develop a module on voting as part of the YouthLinks collaborative on-line learning program. The program links high school students in Canada and around the world in discussion of important concerns. The Voices: Getting the Vote module was launched in the fall of 2004 and is devoted to Canadian citizenship and democracy. The module includes lesson plans for teachers and activities for students and was profiled by the Chief Electoral Officer and the Historica Foundation at the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy in the fall of 2005.

1.4.4 The Voter Information Service

To deal with the increasing volume of calls for the 38th general election, Elections Canada, in partnership with Bell Canada, developed the Voter Information Service (VIS) – a comprehensive information system consisting of an automated Web-based and speech-enabled Voice Response System, a call centre for callers needing to speak to an agent and a self-service facility on our Web site.

On October 3, 2005, the VIS was the recipient of a GTEC award, recognizing meritorious efforts related to technology in government. Competing against many much larger organizations and departments, the VIS project was awarded a bronze medal in "GROUP I – Federal Awards B – Enhancing Government Operations" – a testament to the excellent work and dedication of the development team, whose efforts led to the first public sector use of advanced computer telephony.

1.4.5 International Activities: Missions and Meetings

As a world leader in holding fair and transparent electoral events, Canada is in a position to share electoral knowledge with emerging and established democracies, and to offer technical support to help plan and conduct fair elections in countries that request advice and assistance. In doing so, we help to build democratic institutions abroad while also expanding our own areas of knowledge and experience.

Below are some of the international events in which Elections Canada has played a key role over the past two years.

Sharing Experience with Developing Democracies

As part of Elections Canada's involvement in international missions, the Chief Electoral Officer has participated in various meetings with international organizations that promote democracy, such as IFES, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organization of American States, the Council of Europe, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the Association of Central and Eastern European Election Officials, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie.

At the same time, representatives of other countries, including Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Romania, the Republic of Yemen, Burundi, South Korea, Mali, Latvia and Angola have travelled to Canada to consult our experts.

International Mission for Iraqi Elections

The International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) was made up of 12 independent electoral management bodies from around the world chaired by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.

The mission was established in December 2004 as a result of the Iraq Election Monitoring Forum organized by Elections Canada in Ottawa, with the encouragement of the United Nations and the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) and the financial support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

In 2005, the IMIE followed the January 30 elections, the October 15 referendum and the December 15 elections in Iraq, in addition to monitoring registration and voting by Iraqi electors living abroad.

The IMIE shared its assessments with the IECI, the United Nations and the international community, and published reports and press releases on its Web site at

International Mission for Monitoring Haitian Elections

At an international forum held in Montréal in June 2005 – at the request of CIDA and Foreign Affairs Canada, and under the auspices of Elections Canada – the heads of eight independent electoral management bodies agreed to establish the International Mission for Monitoring Haitian Elections (IMMHE) to follow and assess the 2005–2006 presidential, legislative and municipal elections.

Chaired by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, the mission established a secretariat in Port-au-Prince, deployed long- and short-term observers to monitor Haiti's electoral process and provided advice to Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, the Conseil électoral provisoire.

Reports and press releases are available on the IMMHE Web site at

1.4.6 Office of the Auditor General Report

To succeed as a public institution, Elections Canada must not only do what it does well, it must inspire public confidence that it does so. Accountable to Canadians, we must seek continual improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations. For this reason, the Chief Electoral Officer extended an invitation in 2004 to the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to conduct a performance audit of all of Elections Canada's activities.

The Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, tabled her 2005 report in the House of Commons on November 22. Chapter 6 of the report is entitled Elections Canada – Administering the Federal Electoral Process. The Auditor General observed that the electoral process is well managed and that "through good planning and regular updating of its geographic and voter information databases, Elections Canada stays prepared for an election that can be called at any time. It ensures that eligible voters can vote by helping them get their name on the lists of electors; by communicating how, when, and where to vote; and by providing flexible voting opportunities. It also provides considerable support to returning officers and their staff in delivering elections."

The report also acknowledges that we play a key role in supporting the fairness and transparency of elections by registering political entities and monitoring their financial activities, supporting and monitoring the activities of returning officers and election staff, and ensuring compliance with the Canada Elections Act. Furthermore, we deliver public education and information programs to enhance understanding of the federal electoral process and increase the participation rate of targeted groups of electors. We were also found to work effectively with Parliament and other stakeholders to identify ways of improving the electoral process.

The OAG commends the fact that we have set performance targets and developed indicators to assess how well we carry out our key activities. At the same time, it is important that we continue to improve the quality of our performance measures, particularly for communication and public education programs. We also need to enhance our reporting to Parliament on strategic directions and on progress toward our objectives. Additionally, some improvements in human resources planning practices and information systems will benefit our current operations and help us plan more effectively for the future.


The Chief Electoral Officer has responded to the five recommendations in the Auditor General's report and has already started to address them. (Please see Appendix V for details.) This work will continue in 2006–2007, as outlined in further sections of this report. In general, the audit has highlighted opportunities to pursue our current efforts more effectively – to explore additional methods or improve efficiency in certain aspects of our activities.

The full text of the chapter in the November 2005 OAG report concerning Elections Canada can be found on the OAG Web site at

This completes the chapter on Elections Canada's activities following the 38th general election. The following chapter describes our preparations for the main subject of this report – the 39th general election.

1 The survey was carried out between June 29 and July 12, 2004, with a representative sample of 2,822 electors across Canada, providing a margin of error of ±1.9 percent, 19 times out of 20. In keeping with our research objectives, a representative over-sample of 500 Aboriginal respondents was added to the 160 obtained at random, for a total of 660. This was made up of both on- and off-reserve residents, including urban dwellers. An over-sample of 200 electors aged 18 to 24 was also added to the 211 obtained at random, for a total of 411 electors aged 18 to 24.

2 The denominator used to calculate this figure is the estimated electoral population, not the number of registered electors, which Elections Canada normally uses. This is done for consistency with the Pammett and LeDuc study that was commissioned by Elections Canada, and with international studies on youth voting behaviour.

3 In 2004, 1,686 candidates were confirmed, but one withdrew after confirmation, leaving 1,685 active candidates.

4 This interpretation is reflected in the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. ex. rel. Steeds v. Lewis, (1997), 36 O.R. (3d) 688 (C.A.).