Reports on Plans and Priorities
Recently Enacted Legislation with an Impact on Our Business
There is no recently enacted legislation amending the Canada Elections Act.
One of the effects of the Expenditure Restraint Act, S.C. 2009, c.2, s. 393, passed by Parliament in February 2009, is to limit to 1.5% per year in 2009–10 and 2010–11 the possible increase in the amounts paid under the Federal Elections Fees Tariff to election officers and workers for work done in relation to elections. The legislation may affect Elections Canada’s ability to hire and retain election personnel.
Judicial Decisions and Proceedings
Rose Henry et al. v. Canada (Attorney General)
On January 30, 2008, an action was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by individuals and groups challenging the constitutionality of the new identification and vouching requirements in the Canada Elections Act. The applicants assert that the requirements will prevent electors from exercising their right to vote, as guaranteed by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case was heard in Vancouver in the spring and summer of 2009. The Court reserved its decision.
L.G. (Gerry) Callaghan et al. v. the Chief Electoral Officer
Two candidates in the 39th general election were seeking judicial review of the Chief Electoral Officer’s alleged failure to fulfill his duty under section 465 of the Canada Elections Act. Under this provision, if the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied that a candidate and his or her official agent have complied with their financial reporting obligations, he is required to provide a certificate to the Receiver General for the reimbursement of a portion of the candidate’s election expenses and personal expenses. The Chief Electoral Officer issued certificates for the reimbursement of most of the expenses incurred by the two candidates but was not satisfied that other expenses had been incurred. Those expenses were excluded from the calculation of the reimbursement. The case was heard by the Federal Court in November 2009 and a decision was rendered in January 2010. In its ruling, the Court set aside the Chief Electoral Officer’s decision to refuse to certify the expenses claimed by the two applicants. The Court determined that the expenses had been properly incurred by the applicants and ordered the Chief Electoral Officer to issue a certificate for their partial reimbursement. The Chief Electoral Officer is currently reviewing the decision.
Conservative Fund Canada v. Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
On December 31, 2009, the Ontario Superior Court issued an order authorizing the Conservative Party of Canada to correct election expenses returns it had submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer after the 2004 and 2006 general elections in order to deduct, from the amount of election expenses reported in the returns, an amount of GST that had since been rebated by the Canada Revenue Agency. Elections Canada is appealing the decision. The notice of appeal was filed on January 29, 2010.
In a few other cases, Elections Canada is being sued by individuals who allege its negligence as a result of separate incidents that occurred in the 39th general election on January 23, 2006, in or near polling stations. These cases are proceeding through the courts.
As well, there have been a few complaints before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, regarding access to polling stations by handicapped individuals, in the March 2008 by-elections and in the October 2008 general election. One of these complaints (Hughes) was the subject of a hearing before a human rights tribunal in October 2009. The tribunal has not yet rendered its decision.