Modernizing the Electoral Process – Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada following the 37th general election
Summary of the Chief Electoral Officer's Recommendations to Parliament
Part 1: Providing a More Accessible and Efficient Electoral Process
Chapter 1: Ensuring that Every Elector is Registered
Recommendations Respecting the Registration Process
Signed Certification of Eligibility for Registration on National Register of Electors
A certification of eligibility, signed by the elector, should no longer be a necessity for being added to the Register. This would recognize the facts that:
- a personally signed written certification is not the sole reliable method of establishing eligibility;
- an elector, under the Canada Elections Act, can currently be registered on a list of electors (and thus indirectly with the Register) without the use of a personally signed written certification of eligibility from that elector;
- requiring a personally signed certification to register directly with the Register creates a significant obstacle to registration through alternative means of communication and through the statutory mandated methods of updating the Register.
This change would maximize the ability of electors to register, including the ability to register on-line where alternative evidence of sufficient reliability was available.
Similarly, the recommendation is made to drop the requirement in s. 48(2) of the Act that an elector wishing to register must confirm in writing information provided to the Chief Electoral Officer from sources other than those set out in s. 46. The provision should allow alternative methods of confirmation.
It should be made clear that this recommendation is not to eliminate the need for evidence of eligibility, signed certification in all circumstances, or confirmation in writing in all circumstances. The recommendation is made to permit the registration process to become more flexible by allowing proof of eligibility, or proof of confirmation, to be established by a range of sufficiently reliable evidence. This will facilitate elector registration without compromising the reliability of their information.
Revision of Register on Initiative of the Chief Electoral Officer
In order to increase the capacity of the Chief Electoral Officer to maintain the integrity of the Register, the Canada Elections Act should be amended to authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to undertake initiatives to verify, correct and update the Register and to authorize returning officers, and others, to conduct such initiatives outside of electoral events, when requested by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Recommendations Respecting the Lists of Electors
Notice of Confirmation of Registration (Voter Information Card)
The current legislative scheme for notices of confirmation of registration should be revised to include more flexibility as to who is to provide electors with the required notices and how that notification is to be done. However, the Act should continue to specify what information is to be provided and when.
This can be accomplished by amending s. 95 of the Act to provide that the Chief Electoral Officer shall cause, as soon as possible after the issue of a writ, but not later than the 24th day before election day, a notice of confirmation of registration to be sent to every elector whose name appears on a preliminary list of electors (subject to the existing exceptions).
The Chief Electoral Officer should also be directed to have sent, to every household or registered elector, the voting information necessary for registered electors in that household to vote (as currently set out in s. 95(2). It should be required that this information be sent as soon as practical, and in any event, not later than a day keyed to the advance polls. In this way, the Chief Electoral Officer can decide who is responsible for sending out the required information to best suit the administrative and technological resources and the circumstances of the day. However, the Act will continue to direct exactly what information is to be sent and the timelines for providing that information.
Whether the above information is sent out in one or more notices should also be left to the discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer, who can adjust the practice to the realities of the circumstances. (A different practice may be adopted for by-elections than for general elections, for example.) The form of those notices should also be established by the Chief Electoral Officer (which reflects the existing legislative direction).
As a corollary, the Act should continue to provide that any elector registered during the election period receives both notice of confirmation of registration and voting information in the manner established by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Allowing Returning Officers to Update Lists on the Basis of Information from the Chief Electoral Officer
It is recommended that s. 101 of the Act be amended to expressly provide that returning officers can update lists of electors by adding or deleting electors, or making other changes on the basis of information provided by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Inter-District Changes of Address
Subsection 101(6) should be amended to extend the ability of returning officers to record changes of address in cases where a registered elector moves from a different electoral district.
Proof of Identity on Requested Change of Address on List
It is recommended that s. 101(1)(a) and (b) be amended to provide that where a request to add an elector's name to the preliminary list of electors is made by that elector, or by another elector who lives at the same residence, proof of identity would not be required where the request is made to an election officer at the residence of the elector. The elector requesting the change will still be required to complete the prescribed registration form and establish that the elector in question may be included on the list.
Authority of Deputy Returning Officer to Verify Eligibility
It is recommended that s. 144 be amended to include the authority to require a written affidavit or solemn affirmation of eligibility by a potential elector where reasonable doubt is raised concerning that person's eligibility by a deputy returning officer, poll clerk, candidate or candidate's representative.
Chapter 2: Ensuring that Every Vote Counts
Same Names on Ballot
Section 117 of the Act should be amended to reflect the practice adopted by returning officers in the past, by providing that where the names of two or more candidates are identical, the order of their appearance on the ballot is to be determined by the luck of the draw. This would apply both to candidates who are independent and to candidates who are endorsed by parties.
Option to Decline Ballot
The Canada Elections Act should be amended to provide for the means for a ballot to be declined, recorded and reported as such in the official ballot results and which respects the principle of the secrecy of the vote.
Deadline to Obtain Transfer Certificate
Section 159 of the Act should be amended to remove any time limit for application for a transfer certificate respecting level access. The removal of the time limit will not create an undue administrative burden, will recognize further the constitutional right of all individuals to have access to the voting process and will be consistent with the statutory practice set out in s. 158.
Time Frames for Special Voting Rules
Section 232 should be amended to provide that the period for making an application under Division 4 of Part 11 for a special ballot, commence at the date fixed by the Chief Electoral Officer. This date is to be as soon as possible after the issue of the writ.
Requiring Affidavit When Another Person Has Already Voted in Elector's Name
It is recommended that the Act be amended to allow an elector who has not voted, but who is shown on a list of electors to have voted, to vote once he or she swears a written affidavit or solemn declaration before the deputy returning officer.
Part 2: Greater Accessibility for Candidates and Political Parties
Chapter 1: Enhancing Candidates' Participation
Signatures of Nominating Electors
In order to reduce the administrative burden on a prospective candidate, the requirement for the signatures of 100 (or 50) eligible electors should be dropped from the nomination process.
Requirement for Witness to File Papers and Swear Oath
Prospective candidates should be permitted to file their nomination papers themselves. The requirement for a witness to the candidate's consent to file the nomination papers and swear an oath before the returning officer should be dropped.
This will make the statutory practice consistent, whether the papers are filed manually or electronically.
Candidate's Consent Under Oath to Run
The current requirement for the prospective candidate's consent to be made under oath should be dropped. Statutory prohibition against making a false or misleading statement in a nomination paper should be added.
Period to Confirm Nomination
The Act should be amended to provide that a returning officer must verify a nomination paper no later than the end of the nomination period on the 21st day before election day.
The Act should be amended to require that a candidate's deposit be made by way of cash, certified cheque, money order or other guarantee of funds as approved by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Party Filing of Candidate's Deposit
The Act should be amended to provide, once the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied of the implementation of an adequate administrative process, that a political party may remit the deposits required for those candidates endorsed by the party to the Receiver General through the Chief Electoral Officer.
As a corollary provision, s. 67(4) of the Act should also be amended to provide that where the returning officer is satisfied that a candidate's deposit has been filed directly with the Receiver General for Canada by the political party endorsing the candidate, the nomination papers need not be accompanied by the deposit.
In order to prevent miscommunication and inadvertent errors in the process, the Act should further provide that a returning officer must consult with the Chief Electoral Officer before refusing a candidature, including for failure to file the required deposit.
Party Filing of Leader's Endorsement of Candidate
The Act should be amended to allow parties to file with the Chief Electoral Officer, a confirmation of the full names, addresses, and number of candidates who have been endorsed by the party, and to allow returning officers to accept a nomination paper on being satisfied that the Chief Electoral Officer has received a party endorsement of that candidate. In order to prevent miscommunication and inadvertent errors in the process, the Act should further provide that a returning officer must consult with the Chief Electoral Officer before refusing a candidature, including a refusal because of a lack of leader's endorsement.
Equal Opportunity to Be a Candidate
The right to a leave of absence without pay for the purpose of being a candidate at a federal election should be extended to all employees, whether the individual is employed under federal, provincial or territorial law. This should not preclude an employer from authorizing paid leave. On the understanding that there may be instances where an employee's leave of absence could be seriously detrimental to an employer's operations, the Act should provide for an exception in such cases, along with a mechanism to determine the effect of an absence where the issue is in dispute. An example of such a mechanism already exists in the Manitoba Elections Act.
Chapter 2: Enhancing Political Parties' Participation
Status of Eligible Party
There should be only two types of political parties under the Canada Elections Act – eligible parties and registered parties.
The definition of eligible parties should be expanded to include all organizations that exist as political parties, that satisfy the administrative requirements respecting the existence and structure of the party under s. 366 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 be a party that has in a general election at least 50 confirmed candidates for election to the House of Commons.
All eligible and registered parties should be entitled to the same rights and obligations except those involving the division of limited resources; they should further be subject to the same disclosure and reporting obligations.
Spending limits for an eligible party should be determined in the same manner as spending limits for a registered party.
The status of an eligible party would continue unchanged from one general election until the close of the period for the confirmation of nominations in the next general election, in the same way that registered parties currently maintain their registered status from one general election until the next.
A registered party that in a subsequent general election has only 1 to 49 confirmed candidates would resume the status of an eligible party and continue to be entitled to the rights and obligations, including reporting obligations, of an eligible party.
Failure to have at least one confirmed candidate at the close of nominations in a general election would cause a party, whether it was previously designated registered or eligible, to lose its party status.
To avoid the loss of party status that might result due to merely temporary circumstances, a party that has lost its status as an eligible party because it lacks the required confirmed candidates at a general election, could preserve its name if it advises the Chief Electoral Officer of its intention to field at least one candidate in the next general election. This would avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, which would result if the party were required to start afresh and provide the Chief Electoral Officer with sufficient evidence of party status. Failure in the next general election to secure the required number of confirmed candidates to maintain party status would result in the loss of that status. The party should continue to be subject to its reporting obligations during this period.
The category of "suspended" parties should be eliminated in order to reduce the complexity of the Act.
A political party that wished to cease being treated as a party under the Act could relinquish that status. It would be subject to final reporting obligations.
Distribution of Lists of Electors
Sections 45 and 109 of the Canada Elections Act should be amended to give 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.
Part 3: The Use of Public Monies to Advance Access and Accountability
Chapter 1: Public Monies to Advance Access
Qualification Threshold for Candidates' Reimbursement
The threshold for candidates to be qualified for reimbursement should be set at 5% of the valid votes cast in his or her electoral district.
Issue of Tax Receipts by Registered Parties for Pre-Registration Contributions
A party that achieves registered party status in a general election should be allowed to issue tax receipts for contributions received by that party either from the time that its application for registration was accepted by the Chief Electoral Officer, or from the time of the last general election, whichever is later.
Disposition of Surplus Funds of Independent Candidates
Any surplus funds transferred by an independent candidate to the Receiver General for Canada should be returnable to the candidate if he or she is nominated as an independent candidate in the next general election or a by-election.
Chapter 2: Public Monies to Advance Accountability
Auditor Acting for More than One Candidate
Section 85.1 should be amended to avoid confusion as to the ability of an auditor to act for more than one candidate regardless of the electoral district. This can be done by rewording the provision to refer only to the ability of a person to serve as an official agent where his or her partner has been appointed as an auditor.
Free the Payment of Auditor's Fees from Requirement for Unqualified Report
The payment of the public funding portion of an auditor's fees should not be dependent on the auditor submitting an unqualified report.
Amount of Public Payment of a Candidate's Auditor Fees
The public payment of auditor fees should be based on the total of the expenses (set out in s. 451(2)(a) to (e)), which the auditor is required to review in order to comply with his or her mandate under s. 453.
The minimum and maximum payments should be adjusted for inflation.
Public Payment of a Portion of a Party's Auditor Fees
The Act should provide for the payment of 75% of the auditor fees of a registered party respecting its financial returns under the Act, subject to a maximum cap. A cap of $18 000 could be set for the portion of fees that would be paid from the public purse for the fiscal return and a cap of $15 000 for the election return. These caps should be subject to an inflationary adjustment.
Part 4: Ensuring Fair Competition – Broadcasting
Sever Free and Paid Time Regimes
A party's entitlement to free broadcasting time should not be dependent upon that party's entitlement to paid broadcasting time.
Broadcasting Rights Restricted to Registered Parties
Only registered parties should have the right to free broadcasting time.
Free Time Regime
The Canada Elections Act should specify that 60 minutes of free time, divided equally between all registered parties that request it, is to be provided by all television stations (not just networks) that broadcast news or public affairs programs, and by all news/talk radio stations and specialty television services focusing on news or public affairs.
The Act should not direct when free time is provided or the length of any broadcast provided.
The Act should specify that free time be scheduled reasonably evenly over the election period to avoid parties attempting to schedule all of their free time within the last week of the election.
In order to accommodate the participation of eligible parties in this process, free broadcasts should only be permitted after the nomination date cut-off to allow for the readjustment of apportionment in the event of the failure of an eligible party to achieve registered party status or a registered party to maintain its status.
Paid Time Regime
The Act should be amended so that each registered party has the right to buy up to 100 minutes per station of paid time at the lowest unit rate, subject to their election expense spending limits.
The scheduling of purchased time should be at the discretion of the registered party, pre-empting regular commercial advertisements if necessary (same as the existing system).
Registered parties would be required to pre-notify the station of their scheduling intentions within ten days of the issue of the writs (same as the existing system).
There should be an overall cap of 300 minutes on the amount of paid time, which each station must provide overall to all parties. Where the number of parties seeking to purchase paid time at the lowest unit rate would require the station to provide more than this cap, the station should be allowed to reduce every party's requested time on a pro rata basis, subject to the moderation of any disputes by the Broadcasting Arbitrator.
The Broadcasting Arbitrator should be authorized to arbitrate disputes over the purchase of specific time slots.
The statutory rate for the sale of paid broadcast time should be based on the concept of "lowest unit charge" in order to avoid the current uncertainty arising out of the Act's use of the phrase "equivalent time".
Any registered party wishing to buy more than the 100 minutes of paid time, and any eligible party wishing to buy paid time, would be free to do so at the rate the station chooses to set, subject only to its election expense limits and the willingness of the station to sell the time. Again, in the unlikely event of one party attempting to dominate the market unfairly, disputes could be resolved by the Broadcasting Arbitrator.
Election Opinion Surveys
Subsection 326(2) should be amended so that broadcast media regulated by the CRTC are subject to the same requirements that broadcast media not regulated by the CRTC (e.g. the Internet) must meet with respect to disclosure of the wording of the questions used in political opinion surveys and the means by which further details about such surveys may be obtained.
Part 5: Transparency in Election Financing
Chapter 1: Financial Disclosure
Preventing Contributions Intended to Hide the Identity of the Original Source
The Act should be amended to make it an offence to make a contribution in a manner intended to hide the identity of the source of the contribution.
Reporting Conditions on Loans
The Act should be amended to require a candidate's return to reveal all the conditions of any loan, including its term and interest rate. Disclosure of the name and address of any guarantor should be required in the case of loans above the reporting threshold.
Reporting Transfers from Provincial Political Entities
It is recommended that 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, be fully reported to the Chief Electoral Officer.
More Accurate Reporting of Source of Indirect Contributions Through Local Electoral District Associations and Trust Funds
The Act should be amended to provide that where a reporting party or candidate receives indirect contributions from a trust or electoral district association, the names and addresses of all of the contributors who made contributions over the reporting threshold to the trust or the association since the last report (in the case of the fiscal returns of parties), or since the last election (in the case of candidates), must be disclosed.
Threshold for Reporting Contributions
In order to enhance the privacy interests of Canadians and to encourage the political participation of Canadians, where contributions are required to be reported to the Chief Electoral Officer, the reporting threshold for the specific reporting of names and addresses for contributions should be raised to $1 075.
Reporting entities should be required to continue to keep detailed records of contributions, including the names and addresses of contributors who make contributions in excess of $200.
These detailed records should be producible on request to the Chief Electoral Officer or the Commissioner of Canada Elections, and be available for the purposes of the Act, including for the purposes of any enforcement action by the Commissioner of Canada Elections. There would be no obligation to publish them, nor should they be publicly available except as may be required in a prosecution by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
It should be an offence for a person who is required to produce a detailed record of contributions to wilfully fail to do so on the request of the Chief Electoral Officer or the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Chapter 2: Streamlining and Clarifying the Reporting Requirements for Candidates
No Bank Account Required if No Financial Transactions Other than Payment of Deposit
Opening a bank account should only be required of a candidate when a monetary transaction occurs, other than the payment of the nomination deposit.
A declaration of "nil return" should be provided by the candidate and official agent in cases where there have been no contributions, election expenses, or personal expenses. The candidate's deposit should be excluded from the definition of loan, contribution, and election expense. The source of funding for the deposit should be disclosed.
Removal of the Requirement for a Witness to the Official Agent, Chief Agent and Candidate Declarations Accompanying the Return
The requirement for a witness to the signatures of the chief agent, the official agent and the candidate on the declarations respecting returns should be dropped.
Clarification of the Nature of the Candidate's Declaration of Personal Expenses
The Act should be clarified to show that the candidate's statement of personal expenses is a claim for payment and that if it is not submitted within the timeframe prescribed by the Act, the matter should be treated as a late claim for payment, but it should not render the return invalid.
Clarification of Responsibilities of the Official Agent and the Candidate for Filing the Campaign Report and Their Exposure to Penalties
The Act should be amended to expressly provide that the responsibility for properly submitting a return resides with the candidate, while the duty for completing that return rests with the official agent.
The requirement for vouchers should be removed from s. 451 and moved to a new s. 451.1; the failure to file complete vouchers should not affect the validity of a return.
However, in the event that insufficient vouchers are filed, the Chief Electoral Officer should be given the authority to direct the filing of additional vouchers in order to evidence the expenses set out in the return. It would be an offence to wilfully fail to comply with a direction by the Chief Electoral Officer for supporting vouchers.
Receipt and Reporting of Contributions Made After Election Day
No contribution should be allowed to a candidate's campaign later than four months after election day, unless the contribution is expressly allowed under the Act.
All contributions received after election day must be disclosed in the candidate's return, or in an updated version, thereof, if the contribution is received subsequent to the filing of the return.
Chapter 3: Deadlines for the Filing of Returns
Evidence Required to Support Application to the Chief Electoral Officer to Extend Filing Deadlines or to Make Corrections or File Updated Documents
The Act should provide that an application to the Chief Electoral Officer under s. 458 be supported by a statutory declaration or other evidence to establish the grounds on which the application is sought.
For the sake of clarity and consistency, s. 447 (irregular claims or payments) should be similarly amended.
Deadlines Respecting Applications to Judge
The current time limit of two weeks to make an application to a judge as specified in s. 459, should be extended to two months. This period should also be the maximum period which the judge may authorize as a result of an application to the court.
Party Failure to File Return
Loss of political party status should be removed as a potential consequence of failing to file a single financial return as required under the Act. However, a party that consecutively fails to file two required reports in accordance with the Act should automatically lose its party status under the Act.
Chapter 4: The Problem of Unregulated Contributions
Regulatory Controls upon Contributions – A Necessary Counterpart to Disclosure
Limits should be placed on contributions to registered and eligible parties, local electoral district associations, and candidates.
The duty to comply with the limit should be imposed upon the entity making the contribution, rather than the recipient, to avoid the imposition of an undue administrative burden upon that recipient.
Entities making contributions to political recipients should be restricted to the following limitations:
$50 000 to each registered/eligible party
$7 500 aggregate to all local electoral district associations of each party
(In addition to the annual limits)
$50 000 to each registered/eligible party
$7 500 aggregate to one or more candidates of each party
|Single or simultaneous
(In addition to the annual limits)
$7 500 aggregate to one or more candidates of the same party
|Nomination contests:||(In addition to the annual limits)
$7 500 aggregate to all contestants of the same party
It should be an offence for a contributor to breach these limits knowingly.
Part 6: Effectively Enforcing the Electoral System
A General "Attempt" Offence
A general offence should be created respecting an attempt to commit an offence under the Act.
Sections 351, 423(2) and 443(2) should be replaced with a general provision prohibiting any person from circumventing, or attempting to circumvent, the respective spending limits.
Investigative Status for the Commissioner of Canada Elections
The Commissioner of Canada Elections should be deemed to be an investigative body for the purposes of s. 8(2)(e) of the Privacy Act for the enforcement of the Canada Elections Act.
Appeal Rights of the Commissioner of Canada Elections
The Act should provide that the Commissioner of Canada Elections has the same appeal rights in prosecutions for breaches of the Canada Elections Act, as does the Attorney General in other prosecutions under the Criminal Code.
Obstruction of Investigations
It should be an offence under the Canada Elections Act to obstruct, hinder or make a false or misleading statement to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, or a person appointed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, when conducting an investigation under the Canada Elections Act.
Failure to Return Ballot
It should be an offence under the Canada Elections Act for an elector who has been given a ballot by a deputy returning officer to fail to return that ballot.
Part 7: Managing the Electoral Process
Appointment of Returning Officers
It is recommended that provision be made for returning officers to be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer on the basis of merit. New returning officers would be appointed for a 10-year term, be eligible for re-appointment, and could be removed by the Chief Electoral Officer in the event of incompetence or unsatisfactory performance.
The Office of Assistant Chief Electoral Officer
The statutory office of Assistant Chief Electoral Officer should be removed from the Act.
Appointment of Revising Agents
It is recommended that s. 33 be amended to remove the requirement for returning officers to solicit names from registered parties in the hiring of revising agents.
Appointment of Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks
It is recommended that the Act be amended to remove the requirement for returning officers to solicit names from the candidates for appointments of deputy returning officers, poll clerks and registration officers.
Leave of Absence to Be a Deputy Returning Officer or Poll Clerk
The Act should provide that an employer be under an obligation to provide an employee with leave of absence in order to serve as a deputy returning officer or a poll clerk. A mechanism should be provided, similar to that in the Manitoba Elections Act, by which an employer may obtain an exemption for persons whose absence would be seriously detrimental to the employer's business.
Posting Names and Addresses of Deputy Returning Officers and Poll Clerks
It is recommended that the Act be amended to remove the requirement for home addresses to be shown on the list of deputy returning officers and poll clerks that is publicly available.
Location of Returning Office
Subsection 60(1) of the Act should be amended to provide that the Chief Electoral Officer may direct the establishment of a returning office at a location within an electoral district that, in the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer, will provide the best service or easiest access to the electorate of that district.
Election Officers at Advance Polls
Section 169 of the Act should be removed. This will allow elector registration to proceed at an advance poll in the same way it does on election day, through the general authority of s. 171. In addition, an authority similar to s. 123 should be extended to the returning officer to group advance polling stations together in one place. This authority would be subject to the approval of the Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that too many stations, representing too wide an area, were not being grouped at one polling location. The definition of "central polling place" in s. 124 should be amended to include advance polling stations that have been grouped together.
Criteria for Appointment of Central Poll Supervisors
Section 124(2) should be amended to allow a returning officer to appoint a central poll supervisor whenever the returning officer believes it would be appropriate to do so.
Authority of a Judge to Summon Witnesses for Recount
Subsection 304(5) should be amended to provide that a judge may compel the attendance of any witness for the purpose of conducting a recount.
Assistance of Elections Canada Officials with Recount
In order to increase the administrative efficiency of the recount process, it is recommended that s. 303 be amended to make clear that, upon the request of the judge, an officer provided by the Chief Electoral Officer may also be present at a recount for the provision of assistance to the judge.
Greater Flexibility Respecting the Tariff of Fees
It is recommended that s. 542 be amended to provide that the Governor in Council may referentially incorporate into the tariff instruments made by other bodies, as they may be amended from time to time. This will allow the Governor in Council greater flexibility in providing for the required fees. In order to avoid confusion respecting incorporated instruments amended in the midst of an election, the Act should further provide that in such a circumstance, the Chief Electoral Officer have the authority to delay the effective date of the amended incorporated instrument until a date after the end of the election.
Political Rights of Staff of Elections Canada
It is recommended that the Act be amended to prohibit any member of the staff of the Chief Electoral Officer, except when on a leave of absence from Elections Canada, from being a candidate in a federal or provincial election; from engaging in work for or against a candidate, party or issue, in a federal or provincial election; from supporting any candidate or party, or organization with partisan political purposes, at the federal or provincial levels; and from supporting or opposing any option in a federal or provincial referendum.
The Act should further provide that a leave of absence be granted by the Chief Electoral Officer where, in the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer, the future usefulness of a staff member will not be impaired by that person's participation in the electoral process.
The Right to Strike of Elections Canada Staff
The Public Service Staff Relations Act should be amended so that the right to strike is removed for employees of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.
Part 8: Extending the Application of the Canada Elections Act
Reporting the Original Source of Contributions Received by Candidates from Political Trust Funds
The definition of a political trust should be widened to include any trust that has election purposes as its principal function, including leadership and nomination contests.
Reporting by Electoral District Associations
There should be reporting obligation where an electoral district association, which is related to a party that is subject to a reporting regime under the Act, has financial transactions.
The person who is authorized by the association to carry out those financial transactions should be required to report those transactions annually to the Chief Electoral Officer.
Reporting the Finances of Contestants for Party Endorsement
Contributions made to and expenses incurred by a contestant for party endorsement, should be reported and published in the same manner as contributions to a candidate during the campaign.
The return should be filed by the same deadline as the electoral campaign return and the same right to request extensions should be available.
Spending limits on nomination contests should be established based on the estimated election expenses limit calculated each year in accordance with s. 442 of the Act.
Reporting the Finances of Contestants for Party Leadership
It is recommended that contributions to and expenses of a party leadership contestant, whether successful or not, be reported four months after the leader is elected and published in the same manner as a candidate's electoral campaign return.
Surpluses in Leadership and Nomination Contests
When any leadership/nomination contestant receives contributions from a tax-receipted source, any surplus funds remaining to the contestant after the leadership/nomination contest must be turned over, in the case of a leadership contest, to the contestant's party, and in the case of a nomination contest, to the party or local electoral district association.