Elections Canada

Elections Canada

December 14, 2006 19:05 ET

Chief Electoral Officer Announces Changes in Method of Appointing Returning Officers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 14, 2006) - The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, is pleased to announce the passage of amendments to the Canada Elections Act brought by Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, which transfers the authority to appoint and dismiss returning officers from the Governor in Council to the Chief Electoral Officer. These provisions will come into effect after royal assent, on a day specified by the Governor in Council.

"I have recommended, since becoming Chief Electoral Officer 16 years ago, that the power to appoint and dismiss returning officers should rest with the Chief Electoral Officer. I believe a merit-based appointment process will greatly enhance the transparency of the electoral process and improve accountability," said Mr. Kingsley. "A merit-based system will also mean that Canada's process for the appointment of federal returning officers is similar to what is already being done in many provinces," he said.

Changes brought by the Federal Accountability Act require that the Chief Electoral Officer be satisfied that the person who is to be appointed meets the essential qualifications for the work. As specified in Bill C-2, after consulting with leaders of registered political parties in the House of Commons, the Chief Electoral Officer will reappoint qualified incumbents in many electoral districts. New applicants will be sought in the remaining ridings.

Elections Canada will now proceed as expeditiously as possible to appoint returning officers for all 308 federal electoral districts. Selection criteria and a description of the process will be sent to Parliament and posted on Elections Canada's Web site at www.elections.ca. A list of available positions will be posted on our Web site and will also be advertised in newspapers and on a number of other key Web sites.

In summary, under the new Act, federal returning officers will now be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, and the appointment process will be based on merit.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

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