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Process Assessment Report: 2012 Redistribution of Federal Electoral Districts


On October 5, 2013, the Canada Gazette published the proclamation of the representation order, finalizing the federal electoral boundaries that will be used at the next general election called after May 1, 2014, and that will remain in effect for a decade. While some administrative tasks remained to be done after that point, Elections Canada's role of supporting the federal electoral boundaries commissions, which had worked for up to 18 months in their respective provinces, was complete.

Redistribution takes place every 10 years. Elections Canada benefitted greatly from the records left behind from the last exercise. It is to be expected that many of the people involved will have moved on by the time the next redistribution effort begins. The release of a process assessment report is therefore important not only for the benefit of parliamentarians and the public, but also for those who look back on the 2012 redistribution a decade from now.

The scope of this assessment report includes all aspects of Elections Canada's and the federal electoral boundaries commissions' involvement in the process, from the preparations leading to the establishment of commissions through to the proclamation of the representation order.

The report focuses on the commissions' own assessment of their ability to fulfill their responsibilities as well as on the effectiveness and efficiency of roles played by the Chief Electoral Officer and Elections Canada in redistribution. It does not, however, challenge the validity or legal basis for the specific actions of the commissions or their application of mandated criteria to their decisions. Nor does it attempt to judge the substantive outcome of the electoral redistribution.

In submitting this report, Elections Canada recognizes that the commissions and the Chief Electoral Officer are by no means the only players in the process. The Chief Statistician of Canada, Natural Resources Canada and parliamentarians all have important roles to play. However, the ability to fulfill their obligations and the effectiveness of their decisions and actions are best left for these stakeholders to assess and will not be addressed here.

The report identifies five key success factors in the conduct of the redistribution process and measures performance against them. In doing so, challenges and opportunities for improvement in preparing and supporting the commissions are also identified. An overall cost analysis is also included.

The assessment does not advance formal recommendations for legislative change, but it aims to point out areas for potential improvement in the legislative environment, as well as areas where Elections Canada could implement improvements within its mandate.