2012–2013 Report on Plans and Priorities
Recently enacted legislation with an impact on our business
An Act to implement certain provisions of the 2011 budget as updated on June 6, 2011 and other measures received royal assent on December 15, 2011. Part 18 amends the Canada Elections Act to phase out quarterly allowances made to qualifying registered parties. These transfer payments made by Elections Canada will therefore be reduced starting on April 1, 2012, and stop completely as of April 1, 2015.
An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act received royal assent on December 16, 2011. The Act amends the rules in the Constitution Act, 1867 for readjusting the number of members of the House of Commons and the representation of the provinces in that House. It amends the time periods in several provisions of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and requires that electronic versions of maps be provided to registered parties. It also amends the Canada Elections Act to permit returning officers to be appointed for a new term of office in certain circumstances if the position is vacant by reason of the revision of the boundaries of the electoral district.
Bills before Parliament with an impact on our business
Bill C-21 (Political Loans Accountability Act) was introduced in the House of Commons on November 2, 2011. It would amend the Canada Elections Act to enact rules concerning loans, guarantees and suretyships with respect to registered parties, registered associations, candidates, leadership contestants and nomination contestants. It has not yet received second reading.
There are also two private members' bills that propose amendments to the Canada Elections Act: one dealing with voting age (Bill C-368) and the other with voting hours (Bill C-355). Three other private members' bills propose changes to the names of electoral districts.
Judicial Decisions and Ongoing Proceedings
Fonds conservateur du Canada v. Le directeur général des élections du Canada, (District de Montréal); Fonds conservateur du Canada v. Le directeur général des élections du Canada, (District de Québec); Castonguay et al. v. Le directeur général des élections du Canada; Boucher et al. v. Le directeur général des élections du Canada
On November 26, 2010, two groups of candidates endorsed by the Conservative Party of Canada in the 39th general election filed two distinct court applications under section 459 of the Canada Elections Act, seeking an order to be relieved from a request by the Chief Electoral Officer to make corrections to their electoral campaign returns for that election. On December 14, 2010, the Conservative Fund Canada filed two court applications under section 434 of the Act, seeking an order for the groups of candidates to be relieved from similar requests by the Chief Electoral Officer with respect to their 2005 and 2006 annual financial transactions returns and their election expenses returns for the 39th general election.
When he was satisfied that the expenses reported by the candidates' campaigns in question were incurred by the party for the purpose of establishing and operating regional campaign offices for the party during the 39th general election, the Chief Electoral Officer requested that these expenses be removed from reported expenses in the candidates' returns and included in the party's returns.
All applications have now been withdrawn. The case will therefore not proceed any further.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj v. Attorney General of Canada et al.
Mr. Wrzesnewskyj applied to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on June 28, 2011, under paragraph 524(1)(b) of the Canada Elections Act, contesting the results of the May 2, 2011, general election in the electoral district of Etobicoke Centre and seeking a declaration that the election was null and void. He alleged that there were irregularities that affected the result of the election. The applicant has sought the disclosure of many election documents, including poll books and registration certificates filed on voting days. Disclosure of these documents has taken place following an order of the court.
The case is currently scheduled to be heard in Toronto, starting on April 24, 2012.
L.G. (Gerry) Callaghan et al. v. the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
The official agents of candidates for the 39th general election sought an order for the reimbursement of claimed election expenses related to an advertising program administered by the Conservative Party of Canada. The Chief Electoral Officer had refused to certify these expenses for reimbursement because he was not satisfied, based on the evidence available to him, that the expenses had been incurred by the candidates and that the expenses had been reported at their commercial value. In January 2010, the Federal Court ordered the delivery of certificates for the reimbursement of the expenses.
On February 28, 2011, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Federal Court's decision. It found that the Chief Electoral Officer's refusal to certify the expenses was reasonable on the basis of both the law and the material before him. While the official agents had initially filed an appeal of the Federal Court of Appeal's decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, the appeal has now been withdrawn and the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal has been implemented.
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 voter identification requirements in the Canada Elections Act. The applicants claimed that the requirements would 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 2009, and the Court rendered its decision on May 3, 2010, rejecting the constitutional challenge. The judge ruled that, while the provisions of the Act that require electors to prove their identity and residence infringe the right to vote guaranteed by section 3 of the Charter, such a restriction is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. The plaintiffs filed an appeal of the decision shortly thereafter, but this appeal has not yet been perfected.
Elections Canada pursues its efforts to reduce barriers for some groups of electors who find voting more difficult than the general population. In doing so, it gives effect to the Court's view that the Chief Electoral Officer would "continue with public outreach initiatives and implementation of the voter identification requirements so as to further minimize difficulties for voters and maximize access, in particular for those voters who are marginalized or impoverished, or who have been identified in the research to date as experiencing the most difficulty with the identification requirements."
In a few other cases, Elections Canada is the defendant or respondent in proceedings arising from incidents that occurred during the 41st general election. These cases follow their normal course through the courts.