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ARCHIVED - RPP 2007-2008
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

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Management Representation Statement

I submit, for tabling in Parliament, the 2007–2008 Report on Plans and Priorities 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 2007–2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance.
  • It is based on the agency's strategic outcomes and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board.
  • 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 the agency.
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Marc Mayrand
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 process, 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 disclosing information on political parties, electoral district associations, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and third parties, including their financial returns.

In addition, the agency proposes to Parliament amendments that are desirable for the better administration of the Canada Elections Act. It does this through the official reports of the Chief Electoral Officer after electoral events, as well as through the provision of expert technical advice when Parliament studies electoral reform.

Finally, the agency provides support services to the independent commissions responsible for conducting and reporting on the readjustment of the provinces' representation in the House of Commons every 10 years, and it reports to Parliament on the administration of elections and referendums.

Mandate: Elections Canada is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament. It must be prepared at all times to conduct federal general elections, by-elections and referendums. It must also carry out voter education and information programs, and provide support to the federal electoral boundaries commissions that are established to adjust the boundaries of federal electoral districts following each decennial census.

Financial Resources ($ thousands)




104,422 104,422 104,422

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents)




387 387 387

Agency Priorities



1. Electoral Event Delivery and Political Financing, and Compliance and Enforcement

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.


2. 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.


3. Public Education, Information and 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.


Note: The agency's fourth priority, electoral boundaries redistribution, was last completed in 2003–04. Once we receive the 2011 Census return, redistribution will begin again.

Elections Canada's Plans and Priorities

What's New

Since our last report to Parliament, there are seven new elements that will guide our plans and priorities for 2007–08.

  1. 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 consecutive minority government on January 23, 2006. Such an event has tremendous implications for the activities of the agency. It requires that we remain in a heightened state of readiness for a general election that could be called at any time.
  2. On May 12, 2006, the Chief Electoral Officer submitted to Parliament a report entitled Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006. The report covers the period from the wrap-up for the 38th general election of June 28, 2004, through part of the wrap-up for the 39th general election of January 23, 2006. The Chief Electoral Officer's report was filed in accordance with subsection 534(1) of the Canada Elections Act.

    mouse/souris For the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006, visit:

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

  3. By-elections were held on November 27, 2006, in the electoral districts of Repentigny (Quebec) and London North Centre (Ontario). The Chief Electoral Officer's report on the by-elections is expected to be submitted to Parliament by March 31, 2007. It will detail a number of new initiatives implemented in the by-elections that will now be applied in conducting future general elections.

    mouse/souris For the results of the by-election in Repentigny, visit:

    mouse/souris For the results of the by-election in London North Centre, visit:

  4. Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, received royal assent on December 12, 2006. The Act reduces the limits on election-related contributions from individuals and prohibits contributions from any other entity. In addition, candidates are prohibited from accepting any gift or other advantage that might appear to have been given to influence them in the performance of their duties if elected to the House of Commons. Effective June 12, 2007, candidates must make a confidential report to the Chief Electoral Officer after each election on any gifts received. The Act also provides for the appointment of returning officers by the Chief Electoral Officer. The appointment process is based on merit, and returning officers will be appointed for a period of 10 years. Bill C-2 makes the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer subject to the Access to Information Act. As well, the Act transfers responsibility for conducting prosecutions for offences under the Canada Elections Act from the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
  5. Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act, received first reading in the House of Commons on October 24, 2006. The bill was tabled in response to recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, as well as other matters that the Committee wished to address. Bill C-31 introduces significant changes for electors, including a requirement to prove both their identify and address of residence at the polls. Other proposed amendments affect many sections of the Canada Elections Act, including those pertaining to the National Register of Electors, elector registration and lists of electors.
  6. Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, was tabled in the House of Commons and received first reading on May 30, 2006. The bill amends the Canada Elections Act to introduce fixed election dates at the federal level in Canada. It provides that unless Parliament has been dissolved at an earlier date, a general election must be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following election day for the last general election. The first general election after the bill comes into force would be held on Monday, October 19, 2009. If the Chief Electoral Officer is of the opinion that the day set for election day is not suitable, the bill also allows for him or her to recommend an alternative day to the Governor in Council – for example, if the day set is in conflict with a day of cultural or religious significance, or a provincial or municipal election. The alternative day must be either the Tuesday immediately following the Monday that would otherwise be election day, or the Monday of the following week. The bill was debated at second reading in the House of Commons on September 18 and 19, 2006, and passed that stage on September 19. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs held meetings to consider the bill on September 26 and 28 and October 3, 5 and 24; it reported the bill to the House of Commons without amendment on October 25, 2006. Bill C-16 received third reading in the House on November 6, 2006, and is now being reviewed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
  7. Bill C-43, the Senate Appointment Consultations Act, was tabled in the House of Commons on December 13, 2006. The bill provides a comprehensive process for formal consultation with Canadians from one or several provinces concerning the filling of vacancies in the Senate. The Chief Electoral Officer would administer the consultation at the same time as either a federal or a provincial general election. Although the bill proposes that the consultation would be governed by many of the same rules applying to a general election, it requires Elections Canada to implement two new electoral systems within a two-year period following royal assent: the agency would have one year after royal assent to be ready to conduct a Senate consultation using a plurality-at-large voting system and two years to implement a process for conducting the Senate consultation using a single-transferable-vote system.

Our Purpose

Canada's political system is grounded in participation. In taking part in the electoral process, Canadians strengthen their connections with democratic decision making and demonstrate interest in 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 maximizing our use of proven technology to deliver additional benefits and efficiencies to the electoral process.

Enhanced participation may be achieved partly 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 appointing, training and supporting election officers¹ and temporary election staff in Ottawa; developing and maintaining electoral geography information used for the production of maps and other geographic products; and registering political parties, electoral district associations and third parties that engage in election advertising. The management of the political financing provisions of the Canada Elections Act is a task performed both on an ongoing basis and during electoral events. We administer the allowances paid to registered political parties; monitor election spending by candidates, political parties and third parties; and administer election reimbursements to candidates and political parties. Finally, we publish financial information on political parties, electoral district associations, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and third parties.

The agency also supports 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.

¹ Election officers include returning officers, their assistants and personnel, as well as some 190,000 poll officials hired by them, during an electoral event.

Our Funding

As an independent agency of Parliament, the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer is funded by an annual appropriation that provides for the salaries of permanent full-time staff, and by 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 for eligible political parties, redistribution of electoral boundaries and continuing public information and education programs. There are two further statutory items: the salary of the Chief Electoral Officer and contributions to employee benefit plans.

The statutory authority ensures that Elections Canada has the capacity to be ready at all times to conduct an electoral event. It also serves to recognize 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 general elections until now has not been fixed, although legislation recently tabled in Parliament (Bill C-16) proposes that a general election be held on the third Monday in October every four years, as a general rule. At present, 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 the 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. At the same time, we must strive to improve the management and administration of the electoral process. As we approach the end of the readiness cycle, it becomes increasingly difficult to introduce changes to the electoral process because all elements – from manuals to systems – must be integrated and available at the call of an electoral event. Consequently, we continually monitor parliamentary and political events and trends; this is necessary for us to take into account circumstances that might affect our electoral readiness and preparations for electoral events.

A minority government was the outcome of the 39th general election of January 23, 2006, as well as the 38th general election of June 28, 2004. Once again, for 2007–08 Elections Canada is giving highest priority to maintaining a state of readiness for conducting a major electoral event. Historical averages suggest that this could occur much sooner than would be the case under a majority government.

Length of Term of Canada's Minority Governments, 1921–2006

Year of election

Party of government

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



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



6 months, 25 days (207 days)



5 months, 24 days (177 days)



6 months, 19 days (203 days)



2 years, 4 months (854 days)



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



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



6 months, 3 days (186 days)



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




Note: The average duration of a minority government in Canada since 1921 is 1 year, 5 months and 22 days.
Source: Library of Parliament

Maintaining a constant state of heightened readiness imposes a particular strain on the agency. Elections Canada must be able to sustain its full organizational capacity over time, for both its human resources and the technology that supports the electoral process. The agency must provide the support needed by its workforce to remain productive and motivated, while it continues to provide deliverables and maintain standards. In the coming year, we must pay special attention to retaining and replacing key staff members. We must make investments now to renew our technology infrastructure, since our current technology is nearing the end of its lifespan. At the same time, we must continue to work on strategic objectives and key programs to make ongoing and longer-term improvements and enhancements to Canada's electoral process in areas such as voter outreach and voter registration.

Scale of Operations

Canada is a vast country, and the agency is responsible for providing timely information and convenient voting opportunities to a large electorate; this numbered 23,054,615 (registered electors) as of the conclusion of the 39th general election. These factors pose a constant challenge that affects the size of the agency during an election. As a general election approaches, the number of employees, including term and casual workers, may grow from 330 to more than 600 at Elections Canada in Ottawa. This number excludes employment agency staff and consultants hired for the election. Returning officers have the task of hiring approximately 190,000 additional temporary workers to support the electoral process in some 19,000 polling locations across the country. To all these people we must provide training, supervision, training materials, supplies and administrative support. Meeting these duties requires a team that is multi-skilled and multi-talented.

We must develop thorough and efficient business continuity plans to deal with potential major incidents – such as storms, power outages, pandemics or other natural or human-caused threats – that could disrupt the voting process, stakeholders and the administration of an electoral event.

Since the coming into force of the relevant provisions of the Federal Accountability Act on February 10, 2007, the Chief Electoral Officer is mandated to appoint returning officers and provide them with training and training materials, operational procedures, voter information and outreach programs, tools, and other support systems and mechanisms. Training programs provided to new returning officers take into account key principles of electoral management and rely on an integrated approach. Field liaison officers appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer actively participate in the process of hiring returning officers, and provide them with assistance and guidance during and between elections. In addition, during an election period, field liaison officers provide daily field management reports to Elections Canada in Ottawa, enabling it to intervene should a significant problem occur.

Other factors that can influence our performance include:

  • high elector mobility (more than 13 percent of all Canadians change address each year)
  • a steady increase in the number of electors over the age of 65 and the implications this has on accessibility
  • increased social, cultural and linguistic diversity; one Canadian in five was born outside Canada, and many are unfamiliar with our democratic institutions


Our planning must also take into consideration proposed amendments to electoral legislation under consideration 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. The agency prepares a thorough analysis of the proposed changes, and plans for their implementation should the changes be adopted. Currently before Parliament are bills C-16, C-31 and C-43.

Some private members' bills may affect the planning for electoral events as well.

  • Bill C-203, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (telephone, fax and Internet service to campaign offices) was tabled in the House of Commons on April 6, 2006. It calls for telephone, fax and Internet service to be provided in a timely manner to the campaign offices of each and every candidate in all federal elections and in all parties. It remains at first reading.
  • Bill C-318, An Act to provide for a House of Commons committee to study proportional representation in federal elections, was tabled in the House of Commons on June 6, 2006. It calls for the consideration of proportional representation in elections to the House of Commons. It remains at first reading.
  • Bill C-329, An Act to amend the Referendum Act (reform of the electoral system of Canada), was tabled in the House on June 19, 2006. It would amend the Referendum Act to allow the holding of a referendum on any question relating to the reform of Canada's electoral system.
  • Nine separate private members' bills before the House seek to change the names of certain electoral districts.

Elections Canada monitors proceedings in Parliament so that it can be prepared to act if and when new legislation is tabled dealing with any of the items identified or other matters.

Judicial Decisions

Last, in our electoral planning and election delivery, the agency must take into account judicial decisions that affect electoral legislation.

At present only one case, Longley v. Canada (Attorney General), has the potential to affect the administration of the Canada Elections Act. The case deals with the allowance paid quarterly to certain parties.

Under section 435.01 of the Canada Elections Act, registered parties that received at least 2 percent of the national vote or 5 percent of the vote in the districts in which they endorsed a candidate are eligible for a quarterly allowance.

Soon after the creation of the direct public funding regime, registered parties that did not meet these eligibility requirements challenged its constitutionality. On the basis of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Figueroa v. Canada (Attorney General), the plaintiffs argued that the eligibility requirements for a quarterly allowance were unconstitutional because they placed a burden on their members' right to be candidates and on the public's right to vote.

On October 12, 2006, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a decision in Longley v. Canada (Attorney General). Mr. Justice J. Matlow ruled that the threshold for the allowance violated section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and could not be justified by section 1 of the Charter. The decision stated that the public funding was intended to encourage individuals to participate in the election but that as a result of the threshold, "the quality and vigour of Canadian democracy suffers because such a threshold effectively discourages individuals who do not support one of the larger parties from participating in the electoral process."

The Court also found that by favouring certain parties, the threshold diminished public confidence in the electoral process, "and encourages a public perception that the threshold exists only to benefit the major political parties who alternate, from time to time, in forming the government and are in a position to maintain it." The decision of the Superior Court of Justice has been appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. The government has requested a stay of the order until the appeal has been decided; its application is scheduled to be heard on February 26, 2007. Depending on the outcome of this request, the Chief Electoral Officer will decide how to administer the relevant provisions of the Canada Elections Act.

Strategic Relationships

Partnerships among various levels of government are increasingly common in Canada. Elections Canada depends on the co-operation of many partners to achieve a successful strategic outcome benefiting Canadians. The scale of our partnership agreements will vary from one fiscal year to another, depending on whether (as in 2005–06) a general election is conducted or one or more by-elections are held within a particular year.

Another factor is whether other strategic initiatives have been undertaken during a given year.

Several key partners assist us in maintaining election readiness:

  • When authorized by law or with the consent of the individuals to whom the information relates, the Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Canada Post Corporation provide data for updating the National Register of Electors, as do provincial and territorial driver's licence and vital statistics bureaus and electoral agencies.
  • With Statistics Canada, we share responsibility for the National Geographic Database. This contains street names, address ranges and names of other geographic features, providing location-based (geo-spatial) information. We are now exploring the possibility of data enhancement and alignment with other data providers at the provincial and national level. The aim is to facilitate maintenance and data sharing of common geo-spatial information.

The Canada Elections Act authorizes the sharing of lists of electors produced from the Register with provincial and municipal electoral agencies with which Elections Canada has agreements, for their electoral purposes. Those agencies in turn provide revised lists, which we then use to update the Register.

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

  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada provides information about the right to vote and the electoral process, distributes registration forms and guides for voting by special ballot, makes available the names of confirmed candidates and receives completed registration forms and completed special ballots for forwarding to Ottawa.
  • The Department of National Defence coordinates the vote of Canadian Forces members during a general election.
  • The Correctional Service of Canada and provincial corrections authorities help administer the registration and voting of incarcerated electors.
  • Passport Canada distributes information on how Canadian electors can register and vote from abroad.
  • To support election officers during electoral events, qualified personnel – some of them recommended by provincial electoral agencies, and others having extensive electoral experience both provincially and federally – are brought to Ottawa from all parts of Canada and trained in due time by Elections Canada.
  • Elections Canada maintains relationships with Environment Canada, the Government Operations Centre, and provincial and territorial electoral management bodies to ensure that we receive all available information on severe weather-related incidents, natural disasters or other situations that might affect the holding of an electoral event on a national and/or regional level.
  • Elections Canada receives the support and assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec and municipal police forces across Canada to ensure the security of electors, agency staff, temporary workers and polling sites.

These ongoing partnerships and enhanced co-operation improve services to the public.

We also maintain relationships and partnerships for outreach to electors, particularly with our four key target groups: youth, Aboriginal, ethnocultural and special needs electors. These relationships help us disseminate information, undertake consultations and – most important – achieve trust and support of our efforts to maximize Canadians' involvement in the electoral process.