IMMHE / MIEEH

IMMHE / MIEEH

September 29, 2005 12:38 ET

Chief Electoral Officer Tables Report On Recommendations For Changes To The Canada Elections Act

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 29, 2005) - The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, tabled today in Parliament a report of recommendations that will change the way federal elections are conducted in Canada.

Under section 535 of the Canada Elections Act, the Chief Electoral Officer must table a report of recommendations following each general election. Completing the Cycle of Electoral Reforms follows the 38th general election, held on June 28, 2004. It proposes a number of recommendations designed to complete a cycle of operational reforms that build upon reforms introduced as early as 1920, concluding the work of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing in the Commission's 1992 report.

"The recommendations in this report mark both the end of a cycle of reforms and the beginning of a new one that will see greater scrutiny of the most basic elements of Canadian democracy," stated Mr. Kingsley. "These recommendations will support us in our efforts to create a fully modern, effective, independent and objective structure that will assist us in the conduct of elections, and facilitate the development and implementation of reforms to the substance of our system."

Central to the report are recommendations concerning the advancement of democratic rights of Canadians, the efficient and effective delivery of elections, and public confidence in the reliability of the process. These issues are addressed in greater detail below. The report further contains a recommendation in the public interest that proposes allowing the list of electors to be used in the interest of public health and safety.

Advancing democratic rights

This first category of recommendations is intended to assist Canadians in securing their democratic rights. The report therefore recommends making it easier for electors to register to vote using their income tax returns. It also includes the recommendation to review methods of voting other than at the polling station. Another recommendation encourages expanded and more equitable broadcasting rights for registered parties during an election, to ensure increased communication with electors.

Efficient and effective delivery of elections

Democracy requires more than the simple recognition of rights - there must also be the means to implement those rights. To this end, the report recommends that the offices of returning officers be integrated with the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and that returning officers be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer following a merit-based process. The report also proposes that individuals wishing to run as candidates be able to confirm their status, as well as collect contributions and issue receipts, before an election is called.

Public confidence in the reliability of the process

In the pursuit of enhancing public confidence in the electoral process, the report recommends that the Chief Electoral Officer be given additional powers to examine the accuracy and completeness of financial reports, and that election officers be given increased means to verify the identity of voters. Also included are recommendations to report volunteer labour and to extend the time the Commissioner of Canada Elections has to launch prosecutions from 7 to 10 years.

The entire recommendations report, as well as a summary document outlining the recommendations, may be accessed at www.elections.ca. A second report of recommendations related to the political financing legislation that came into force on January 1, 2004, will be tabled early in 2006.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

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