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ARCHIVED - RPP 2006-2007
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

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The Chief Electoral Officer's Message

Jean-Pierre KingsleyImmediately following the 39th general election on January 23, 2006, Elections Canada began to prepare for the next electoral event, whether it will be a by-election, another general election or a referendum. Being ready for any type of electoral event is an integral part of our mandate, and Canadians expect us to be prepared at all times.

Being prepared is never more essential than in the period following a general election that returns a minority government, as was the result of the 38th and 39th general elections. Therefore, in the short term, a considerable amount of our effort will be devoted to returning to, and maintaining at all times, a state of readiness for a general election that could happen at any time.

However, this will not be our only task. This report sets out the results that Elections Canada is committed to achieving during 2006–2007. In some result areas, our plans remain relatively similar to those of earlier years. Progress in these areas is incremental and continuous, sometimes depending on legislative developments and electoral events that occur during the year.

In 2006–2007, we will continue to administer the provisions of the Canada Elections Act. We will investigate complaints related to the 39th general election, and violators will be prosecuted. We will receive and review candidate and party returns for expenses related to the 39th general election and publish this information on our Web site. We will continue to make our systems and processes, which are critical to fulfilling our mandate, more robust. After analyzing the post-election evaluations, we will develop a new strategic plan that identifies the agency's priorities for the next five years.

This year presents a somewhat unusual challenge. On the one hand, we have to intensify our readiness for a potential general election; yet on the other, we cannot ignore the need to implement changes and enhancements that could make the electoral process more accessible and efficient for Canadian electors.

Our aim is to continue to provide the electorate with the most efficient, transparent, accessible electoral process possible. My Office is committed to the continuing process of electoral reform that has earned Canada a global reputation for being a model of electoral democracy.

It continues to be a privilege for me to serve Parliament and the Canadian people and to lead the energetic, multi-talented team at Elections Canada, dedicated to strengthening and upholding Canada's democratic process.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada


Management Representation Statement

I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2006–2007 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2006–2007 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports.

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) guidance.
  • It is based on the agency's approved Program Activity Architecture structure, as reflected in its Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS).
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information.
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it.
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the TBS in the RPP.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley
Chief Electoral Officer of Canada


Section I – Overview

Summary Information

About Elections Canada

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament. Its responsibilities include ensuring that all voters have access to the electoral system, providing information and education programs to citizens about the electoral system, maintaining the National Register of Electors, enforcing electoral legislation and maintaining readiness to conduct electoral events.

The agency is also responsible for registering political entities, including political parties, electoral district associations and third parties that engage in election advertising; administering the allowances and reimbursements paid to eligible political entities; monitoring compliance with the Canada Elections Act; and publishing information on political parties, electoral district associations, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and third parties, including their financial returns.

Finally, the agency provides support services to the independent commissions responsible for adjusting the boundaries of federal electoral districts every 10 years, and it reports to Parliament on the administration of elections and referendums.

Agency Priorities



Planned Spending ($ thousands)





Strategic Outcome: Elections

Electoral Event Delivery and Political Financing


To deliver federal elections, by-elections and referendums that maintain the integrity of the electoral process and to administer the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act.




Electoral Event Readiness and Improvements


To achieve and maintain a state of readiness to deliver electoral events whenever they may be called and to improve the delivery of electoral events.




Public Education and Information; Support for Stakeholders


To provide timely and high-quality public education and information programs and assurance that support on electoral matters is available to the public, parliamentarians, political entities and other stakeholders.




1.  The agency's fourth priority, Electoral Boundaries Redistribution, was last completed in 2003–2004. Once we receive the 2011 Census return, redistribution will begin again.

Elections Canada's Plans and Priorities

What's New

There are seven new items since the preparation of our Main Estimates that will have an impact on our plans and priorities for 2006–2007.

  1. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General, by proclamation on November 29, 2005, dissolved the 38th Parliament and gave instructions to issue writs of election. The Chief Electoral Officer directed the returning officers in Canada's 308 federal electoral districts to conduct the election of members of the House of Commons. Election day for the 39th federal general election was set by the Governor in Council for Monday, January 23, 2006, with the writs of election to be returned by February 13, 2006. Although the conduct and evaluation of the 39th general election was not taken into account for Main Estimates purposes, it is important to note that the report includes related plans and priorities for 2006–2007.
  2. For the first time in 40 years, and only the second time in the history of Canada's electoral system, Canadian voters elected a second minority government on January 23, 2006. Such an event has tremendous implications for the activities of the agency. It is essential that in the wake of the results of the 39th general election, we return to an immediate state of readiness for a general election that could be called at any time.
  3. The Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, tabled her 2005 report in the House of Commons on November 22. Chapter 6 of the report is entitled Elections Canada – Administering the Federal Electoral Process. The Auditor General observed that the electoral process is well managed and that "Elections Canada is doing a good job of making sure that it is always ready for a federal election call and that eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots." The Chief Electoral Officer has responded to the five recommendations contained in the report, and work has already started on addressing them. This work will continue in 2006–2007, as outlined in Section II of this report. More specifically, the audit has highlighted opportunities to explore additional ways to improve efficiency in certain aspects of our activities, the quality of performance measures, the reporting to Parliament on our strategic direction, and the improvement of human resources planning and information systems.

    mouse/souris This symbol of a computer mouse indicates that more detailed information is available at or on another Web site.

    mouse/souris For Chapter 6 of the Auditor General's report, Elections Canada – Administering the Federal Electoral Process, click here.

  4. On September 29, 2005, the Chief Electoral Officer tabled in Parliament a report entitled Completing the Cycle of Electoral Reforms – Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 38th General Election. This report recommended changes to the Canada Elections Act in the areas of operational issues, registration of electors, broadcasting and financial matters; it also made recommendations on certain technical amendments.

    The Chief Electoral Officer's report was filed in accordance with section 535 of the Act.

    mouse/souris For the report Completing the Cycle of Electoral Reforms, click here.

  5. On May 18, 2005, the Chief Electoral Officer delivered to the Speaker of the House of Commons a report entitled Enhancing the Values of Redistribution – Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the Representation Order of 2003. The report contained a series of proposals for Parliament to consider in strengthening elements of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

    mouse/souris For the report Enhancing the Values of Redistribution, click here.

  6. New electoral boundaries for the electoral districts of Acadie–Bathurst and Miramichi came into force on November 29, 2005, upon the dissolution of Parliament following the publication of the notice of the Chief Electoral Officer in the Canada Gazette. The changes stem from legislation that received royal assent on February 24, 2005, after the establishment of a special Electoral Boundary Commission in 2004 following a court challenge to a portion of the Representation Order of 2003. The Federal Court of Canada suspended its ruling in the matter of Raîche v. Canada (Attorney General) for one year in May 2004 to allow these corrective measures to be taken to conform to the "spirit" of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.
  7. The tabling in Parliament of this report was delayed by several months; some activities originally planned for 2006–2007 have been completed in the first quarter of the fiscal year and therefore are reported as such in this report.

Our Purpose

Canada's political system is grounded in participation. Taking part in the electoral process strengthens the connections of Canadians with democratic decision-making and demonstrates concern for the future development of their country. Elections Canada is dedicated to helping Canadians exercise their democratic right to vote. We aim to make voting as accessible as possible by reaching out to all potential voters and by using proven technology wherever possible to deliver additional benefits and efficiencies to the electoral process.

Enhanced participation may be partially achieved through the successful execution of our responsibilities, which include the administration of federal elections, by-elections and referendums; making sure that all voters have access to the electoral process; informing citizens about the electoral system; maintaining and improving the National Register of Electors; and enforcing electoral legislation.

Elections Canada is also responsible for training and supporting election officers; producing maps of electoral districts; and registering political parties, electoral district associations and third parties that engage in election advertising. We administer the allowances paid to registered political parties; monitor election spending by candidates, political parties and third parties; and publish financial information on political parties, electoral district associations, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and third parties.

Our responsibilities also include supporting the independent commissions responsible for adjusting the boundaries of federal electoral districts every 10 years and reporting to Parliament on the administration of elections and referendums.

Our Funding

As an independent agency of Parliament, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada is funded by an annual appropriation, which provides for the salaries of permanent full-time staff, and the statutory authority contained in the Canada Elections Act, the Referendum Act and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. The statutory authority provides for all other expenditures, including the costs of electoral events, maintenance of the National Register of Electors, quarterly allowances to eligible political parties, redistribution of electoral boundaries and continuing public information and education programs. There are also two other statutory items – the salary of the Chief Electoral Officer and contributions to employee benefit plans.

The statutory authority serves to recognize that Elections Canada's independence from the government and from the influence of political parties. It is a critical component in maintaining the integrity of the democratic process in Canada.

Risks and Challenges

Under Canada's parliamentary system, the length of time between federal elections is not a set period. However, under The Constitution Act, 1867 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the House of Commons cannot sit for longer than five years except in times of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection. This means that the length of Elections Canada's business cycle varies, and this uncertainty makes planning a challenge. We must be ready at all times to deliver an electoral event – whether it is a by-election, general election or referendum – while at the same time striving to improve the management and administration of the electoral process. Consequently, we must continually react to parliamentary and political events and trends so that we can take into account contingencies that might affect our electoral readiness and preparations for electoral events.

The 39th general election of January 23, 2006, came in the wake of the 38th general election of June 28, 2004, which returned a minority government in Canada. Elections Canada placed its highest priority on returning to a state of readiness to deliver electoral events in 2005–2006, and it allocated personnel and resources accordingly. Again in 2006–2007, Elections Canada is faced with a minority government. It has therefore placed its highest priority on establishing a state of readiness for conducting a major electoral event, one that could conceivably, based on historical averages, occur in a much shorter time frame than would occur under a majority government.

Length of Term of Canada's Minority Governments


Length of Term
(from return of the election writs to the dissolution of Parliament)


3 years, 7 months, 21 days (1,329 days) – Liberal


6 months, 25 days (207 days) – Liberal


5 months, 24 days (177 days) – Conservative


6 months, 19 days (203 days) – Conservative


2 years, 4 months (854 days) – Liberal


2 years, 4 months, 14 days (866 days) – Liberal


1 year, 5 months, 19 days (535 days) – Liberal


6 months, 3 days (186 days) – Conservative


1 year, 4 months, 10 days (498 days) – Liberal


January 23, 2006 – Conservative

Note: The average duration of a minority government in Canada is 1 year, 5 months and 27 days.
Source: Library of Parliament

Maintaining a constant state of heightened readiness imposes a particular strain on any organization, and Elections Canada must ensure it can sustain its full organizational capacity over time, for both its human resources and the technology that supports the electoral process. Care must be exercised in supporting a workforce that is both productive and motivated, while ensuring that deliverables are continuously met, and special attention must be given to the retention and renewal of our key staff. Investments must also be made now to renew our technology infrastructure as we stretch the lifespan of our current technology to meet our readiness goals.

At the same time, Elections Canada must continue to work on its strategic objectives, key programs related to ongoing and longer-term improvements and enhancements to Canada's electoral process and programs such as voter outreach and voter registration. In other words, it must continue to ensure the greatest accessibility for all Canadian electors.

The sheer size of our country, geographically the second largest in the world, and our responsibility to provide, as of the start of the 39th general election, 22,699,291 registered electors with timely information and an opportunity to vote conveniently, dramatically affect the size of the agency during an election. As a general election approaches, the number of employees at Elections Canada, including term and casual workers, may grow from 330 to more than 600 at our office in Ottawa. This number excludes employment agency staff and consultants hired for an election. Returning officers face the significant challenge of hiring approximately 190,000 additional temporary workers to support the electoral process in some 19,000 polling locations across the country. We must provide all of these people with training, supervision, training materials, supplies and administrative support. To respond to these challenges, we ensure that our team is multi-skilled and multi-talented.

We must be ready to respond to any major incident, such as storms, power outages or other threats, which could affect stakeholders and the administration of an electoral event.

The Chief Electoral Officer provides returning officers with training and training materials, operational procedures, outreach programs, tools and other support systems and mechanisms. Lack of experience among certain newly appointed returning officers, especially those appointed just before an event, poses a risk. We manage this risk by ensuring that training programs reflect key principles of effective adult education and by applying an integrated approach to all our training materials. Furthermore, field liaison officers appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer provide assistance and guidance to returning officers during and between elections. Field liaison officers also provide daily field management reports to Elections Canada management in Ottawa during an election period.

Factors that can influence our performance include high mobility among electors (more than 16 percent of all Canadians change address every year); increased social, cultural and linguistic diversity; and legislative amendments that change the administration or application of the Canada Elections Act.

Our planning must also take into consideration proposed amendments to the electoral legislation considered by Parliament. For many of these bills, the Chief Electoral Officer is called to appear before the relevant committee of the House of Commons and/or the Senate, and the agency prepares a thorough analysis of the proposed changes as well as planning for their implementation should the changes be adopted by Parliament. The following are cases in point:

  • Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability, was introduced in the House of Commons on April 11, 2006. The bill has been adopted by the House and was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on June 27, 2006. Among other changes, the proposed legislation would reduce the limits on contributions from individuals and prohibit contributions from any other entity. It would provide for the appointment of returning officers by the Chief Electoral Officer and make the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer subject to the Access to Information Act. As well, the responsibility for the conduct of prosecutions for offences under the Canada Elections Act would pass from the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • Bill C-4, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act, was introduced in the House of Commons on April 24, 2006, and received royal assent on May 11, 2006. The new statute requires that the amendments made to the two statutes following the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Figueroa be the subject of a mandatory review within two years by committees of the House of Commons and of the Senate.
  • Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, was introduced in the House of Commons on May 30, 2006. The proposed legislation would amend the Canada Elections Act to provide that, subject to an earlier dissolution of Parliament, a general election must be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this enactment comes into force being held on Monday, October 19, 2009.

Private members' bills may also have significant effects on the planning for electoral events. For example, Bill C-318, An Act to provide for a House of Commons committee to study proportional representation in federal elections, introduced in the House of Commons on June 6, 2006, would provide for the consideration of proportional representation in the House of Commons. Bill C-329, An Act to amend the Referendum Act (reform of the electoral system of Canada), introduced in the House on June 19, 2006, would amend the Referendum Act to allow a referendum to be held on any question relating to the reform of the electoral system of Canada.

During the 39th Parliament, Elections Canada will monitor proceedings in Parliament so that it can be prepared to act accordingly if and when new legislation is tabled in Parliament, including legislation that may deal with some or all of the items identified above as well as any new proposals.

Lastly, judicial decisions that affect the electoral legislation must be taken into account in our electoral planning and election delivery.

There are no decisions recently rendered that would significantly affect the administration of the Canada Elections Act or the operations of Elections Canada.

Strategic Relationships

The co-operation of many partners is essential to achieving a successful strategic outcome. The scale of our partnership agreements can vary, depending on whether, as in the last year, it is a year in which a general election is conducted or one or more by-elections are held.

We have several key partners who assist us in maintaining election readiness.

  • The Canada Revenue Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada provide data to update the National Register of Electors, as do provincial and territorial driver's licence and vital statistics bureaus and electoral agencies.
  • We share the maintenance and benefits of the National Geographic Database with Statistics Canada.

Lists of electors produced from the Register may also be shared with provincial and municipal electoral agencies for their electoral purposes; those agencies in turn provide revised lists that are then used to update the Register.

We also maintain strategic relationships and partnerships for our outreach to electors, particularly with our four key target groups: youth, Aboriginal people, ethnocultural electors and communities with special needs.

Our relationships with several federal and provincial government organizations assist us in delivering electoral events.

  • Canada Post delivers election material to returning officers and information to electors in the form of the voter information card and the reminder card.
  • Foreign Affairs Canada assists out-of-country electors.
  • The Department of National Defence aids Canadian Forces electors.
  • Correctional Service Canada and provincial corrections authorities assist incarcerated electors.
  • The Passport Office distributes information on how Canadian electors can register and vote from abroad.
  • Provincial electoral agencies may provide qualified human resources to Elections Canada to support election officers.
  • Elections Canada maintains relationships with Environment Canada and the Government Operations Centre to ensure that we receive all available information on severe weather-related incidents, natural disasters or major national crises that may affect decisions made during an electoral event. Likewise, Elections Canada has relationships with numerous provincial and territorial jurisdictions to ensure that we receive all necessary information that may affect decisions about electoral events at a regional level.
  • Security of electors, agency staff, temporary workers and polling places is assured through our ongoing partnerships with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, la Sûreté du Québec and other municipal police forces across Canada.