1. Launching the By-elections – Report on the 2022 By-election
Issue of the writ
|Reason for vacancy
|Writ issue date
|December 12, 2022 (37-day election period)
|Resignation of the Hon. Sven Spengemann (Liberal Party of Canada)
|November 5, 2022
Opening an Elections Canada office; hiring and training election workers
Shortly after the writ was issued for the 2022 by-election, the agency opened an Elections Canada office in Mississauga–Lakeshore.
For the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election, the returning officer hired 679 footnote 1 election workers. This is similar to the 44th general election where 641 footnote 2 election workers were hired in this electoral district. See Table 1 in the Appendix for the type and number of positions filled for the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election.
This by-election was the first opportunity for Elections Canada to pilot the agency's new Poll Opening Administration (POA) tool. The tool was designed to allow central poll supervisors to track the status of poll openings using text messages rather than traditional phone calls. The POA tool succeeded in:
- reducing response times from central poll supervisors reporting poll opening statuses;
- providing earlier notification of issues impacting poll openings;
- reducing the workload for staff monitoring poll openings; and
- improving the tracking of poll opening statuses and issues.
As with previous by-elections, Elections Canada provided a wide range of training materials to election workers, including video presentations and manuals that were supplemented by online resources. In order for staff to become familiar with the new POA tool, instructions and training sessions were offered. Instructions regarding the long ballot were also included in a supplement to the Deputy Returning Officer Guidebook.footnote ii
Working with political entities
Candidates and registered political parties
At the start of the by-election period, there were 21 political parties that could support candidates for the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election (20 registered parties and 1 eligible party).
As stipulated in the Canada Elections Act,footnote iii prospective candidates had to file their nomination papers or online nomination form by 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before election day. footnote 3 Three candidates submitted their forms in person and 37 candidates opted for the online nomination process.
|Candidate(s) affiliated with a political party
|Total number of candidates
Five prospective candidates had their nomination papers refused. These refusals occurred for the following reasons:
- one candidate failed to provide a signed copy of their proof of identity;
- three candidates did not have a sufficient number of valid elector signatures; and
- one candidate did not have a sufficient number of valid elector signatures and also did not complete a solemn declaration.
In the Appendix, Table 2 lists the confirmed candidates and their party affiliation at the close of nominations. The average number of candidates per by-election held since 2016 is six, rounded to the closest whole number.
Soon after the close of nominations, the returning officer held meetings with the confirmed candidates and their representatives to describe their obligations and responsibilities under the Canada Elections Act.
Election expenses limits
Final election expenses limits are based on the number of names on the preliminary lists of electors or on the revised lists of electors, whichever is greater, and are established in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. The table below shows the election expenses limits for candidates and political parties.
|Registered Political Parties
The Act also places spending limits on third-party election advertising expenses. Two third parties were registered for the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election held on December 12, 2022. The spending limit was $4,656.
Large number of independent candidates
The Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election set a record for its number of candidates. The number of candidates endorsed by a registered political party remained consistent with previous elections. However, the number of independent candidates represented a significant increase from previous experiences at the federal level. Prior to the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election, the largest number of candidates on a single ballot in a federal election was 21.
Candidates seeking nomination are required to collect signatures from at least 100 electors resident in their electoral district. Elections Canada noted that several independent candidates in Mississauga–Lakeshore received a large proportion of signatures from the same groups of electors. Candidates are also required to have an official agent, and in Mississauga–Lakeshore it was noted that the same individual was appointed official agent by 31 independent candidates, as well as by one candidate endorsed by a registered political party. These factors suggest that there was a level of coordination among some candidates in the by-election and raise questions as to whether candidates were truly seeking elected office on their own terms. The exceptionally large number of candidates also presented challenges related to the production and design of the ballot.
Modified ballot format
Elections Canada's traditional ballot can accommodate up to 26 candidates without requiring modifications. Given the expected high number of candidates in Mississauga–Lakeshore, Elections Canada developed modified ballot templates with the objective of selecting a final design that would maintain all integrity features of the traditional ballot. The agency consulted with the following key external stakeholders early in the election period to support the decision-making process when developing a modified template:
- ABC Life Literacy
- Brain Injury Canada
- Canadian Alliance of Student Associations
- Canadian National Institute for the Blind
- Special Olympics Canada and Special Olympics Ontario
- Several members of Elections Canada's Advisory Group for Disability Issuesfootnote iv
Among the various options discussed, the majority of stakeholders identified a two-column ballot as their preferred choice as it resembled the traditional ballot, maintained the original font size (18-point or 16-point) and would create the fewest barriers to independent electoral participation for electors who are disabled, voting for the first time or with a low literacy level.
Once finalized, the newly designed ballot for the Mississauga–Lakeshore by-election was larger than usual and had two columns of candidate names. The names were listed alphabetically, from the top to the bottom of the left column and continuing down the right column. Electors voted by marking the circle next to their chosen candidate's name. As the Canada Elections Actfootnote v specifies that the mark must be made to the right of a candidate's name, Elections Canada released adaptations to allow for an additional column wherein the mark would be made next to the candidate's name, which, depending on the column, could be to the left or the right.
Knowing that the ballot size and format would deviate from the norm, Elections Canada published multiple news releases and made several posts on social media to inform the public prior to election day. Posters that explained the changes to the ballot's format and how to properly mark it were displayed at polling places. Poll workers were also instructed to verbally introduce the new format and explain how to mark it when handing out ballots to electors.
Electors with questions regarding the ballot were invited to visit Elections Canada's website,footnote vi contact their Elections Canada office in Mississauga–Lakeshore,footnote vii or ask a poll worker when voting. As usual, electors who needed help marking their ballot were offered the following accessibility tools:
- a large-print list of candidates;
- large-grip pencils; and
- a braille list of candidates and template. footnote 4
Elections Canada strives to continually improve the design, usability and accessibility of the standard ballot, as well as the tools and processes related to production and distribution.
Return to footnote 1 These 679 individuals occupied 862 positions within the local Elections Canada office.
Return to footnote 2 These 641 individuals occupied 775 positions within the local Elections Canada office.
Return to footnote 3 November 21, 2022.
Return to footnote 4 Unlike in past elections, the braille template was only available on election day. As the two-column ballot was not compatible with the normally used braille template, a new version was developed but could not be printed in time for use at advance polls.
Return to source of footnote ii Deputy Returning Officer Guidebook, https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=emp&dir=trng/guide/dro/man1&document=index&lang=e
Return to source of footnote iii Canada Elections Act, https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-2.01/index.html
Return to source of footnote iv Advisory Group for Disability Issues (AGDI) https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=abo&dir=adv/agdi&document=index&lang=e
Return to source of footnote v Canada Elections Act, https://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-2.01/index.html
Return to source of footnote vi Elections Canada's website, https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=vot&dir=faq&document=faq2022by&lang=e
Return to source of footnote vii Elections Canada office in Mississauga–Lakeshore, https://www.elections.ca/Scripts/vis/EDInfo?L=e&ED=35061&EV=99&EV_TYPE=6&PROV=ON&PROVID=35&QID=-1&PAGEID=21