Bringing Bill C-76 into Force
Bill C-76, known as the Elections Modernization Act, received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. While provisions of this Act will come into force no later than June 13, 2019, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) is authorized to bring provisions into force earlier if the agency is prepared to implement those provisions. Elections Canada is operationally ready to implement a number of provisions.
On January 19, 2019, the CEO published in the Canada Gazette a first notice allowing several provisions of the Elections Modernization Act to come into force on that date.
Many of these provisions are technical or administrative, but others are more substantive:
- The Commissioner's power to compel testimony: C-76 gives the Commissioner of Canada Elections authority to apply to a court for an order compelling testimony.
- False statements: C-76 changes the provisions relating to making or publishing false statements about a candidate, prospective candidate, party leader or prominent figure associated with a party, thereby helping to foster accurate information.
- Limits for election periods: C-76 provides for a maximum 51-day election period.
- Greater accuracy for the list of electors: C-76 authorizes the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) to share with the CEO information in IRCC databases on permanent residents and foreign nationals.
- Expanded public communication mandate: C-76 authorizes the CEO to communicate with the public to make the electoral process better known. Current limits on target audiences for communications are repealed.
- Timing of by-elections: C-76 amends the Parliament of Canada Act to prevent by-elections to fill vacancies that occur within nine months of a fixed-date general election.
On April 1, 2019, the CEO published in the Canada Gazette a second notice allowing several provisions of the Elections Modernization Act to come into force on that date:
- Register of Future Electors: C-76 establishes a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens 14 to 17 years of age may consent to be included.
- Designation by the Minister of National Defence: C-76 permits the designation by the Minister of National Defence of liaison officers outside of an election period.
- Transfer of the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE): C-76 relocates the CCE within the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. This administrative reintegration will enhance collaboration between the two offices by facilitating the sharing of expertise, of knowledge about current practices in both offices, and of relevant information.
- Initiation of prosecutions by the CCE and compliance agreement: C-76 provides the CCE with the authority to lay charges and to enter into compliance agreements.
- Parties' privacy policies: C-76 provides for certain requirements with regard to the protection of personal information by registered parties, eligible parties and political parties that are applying to become registered parties, including the obligation for the party to adopt a policy for the protection of personal information and to publish it on its website.
A notice was published in the Canada Gazette on May 11, 2019 indicating the CEO’s readiness to bring into force provisions of Bill C-76 related to the vote of electors residing outside Canada. Those provisions came into force on the publication date of that notice:
- Bill C-76, which received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018, amended the Canada Elections Act to remove the requirements for electors to have been away from Canada for less than five years and to express intent to return to Canada to live.
- A person who applies to the International Register of Electors must prove their identity and Canadian citizenship, and must indicate the address of their last place of ordinary residence in Canada. This address cannot be changed once an elector has been added to the International Register of Electors.
- Previously, the place of ordinary residence for voting purposes could have been a former place of residence, but it could also have been a place to which the person has a connection even though he or she has never actually resided there, such as a spouse’s or relative’s address.
- For non-resident electors already included in the international register, their designated place of residence will not change despite newly applicable restrictions on such a designation brought in by C-76.
June 13, 2019 – Coming into force
On June 13, 2019, all remaining provisions of the Elections Modernization Act have come into force. All changes are now reflected in the consolidation of the Canada Elections Act.