Fair Elections Act (S.C. 2014, c. 12)

Assented to 2014-06-19

Fair Elections Act

S.C. 2014, c. 12

Assented to 2014-06-19

An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts

SUMMARY

This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act (“the Act”) to require the Chief Electoral Officer to issue interpretation notes and guidelines on the application of that Act to registered parties, registered associations, nomination contestants, candidates and leadership contestants. It also requires the Chief Electoral Officer, on request, to issue a written opinion on the application of provisions of the Act to an activity or practice that a registered party, registered association, nomination contestant, candidate or leadership contestant proposes to engage in.

The enactment also modifies the Chief Electoral Officer’s power under section 17 of the Act so that the power may only be exercised to allow electors to exercise their right to vote or to allow votes to be counted. It also limits the Chief Electoral Officer’s power to transmit advertising messages to electors and requires the Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that any information so transmitted is accessible to electors with disabilities.

The enactment further amends the Act to permit the Chief Electoral Officer to seek approval from parliamentary committees to test an alternative voting process (but where such a pilot project is to test a form of electronic voting, the Chief Electoral Officer must first obtain the approval of the Senate and House of Commons). The enactment also eliminates the mandatory retirement of the Chief Electoral Officer at age 65 and replaces it with a 10-year non-renewable term. It provides for the establishment of an Advisory Committee of Political Parties to provide advice to the Chief Electoral Officer on matters relating to elections and political financing. The enactment also amends the Act to provide for the appointment of field liaison officers, based on merit, to provide support to returning officers and provide a link between returning officers and the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. It also enables the Chief Electoral Officer to temporarily suspend a returning officer during an election period and provides for the appointment of additional election officers at polling stations. Finally, it empowers registered parties and registered associations, in addition to candidates, to provide names of individuals for election officer positions and changes the deadline for providing those names from the 17th day before polling day to the 24th day before polling day.

The enactment also adds to the Act Part 16.1, which deals with voter contact calling services. Among other things, that Part requires that calling service providers and other interested parties file registration notices with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, provide identifying information to the Commission and keep copies of scripts and recordings used to make calls. That Part also requires that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission establish and maintain a registry, to be known as the Voter Contact Registry, in which the documents it receives in relation to voter contact calling services are to be kept.

The enactment also replaces Part 18 of the Act with a new, comprehensive set of rules on political financing that corrects a number of deficiencies in the Act. Notably, the enactment

(a) increases the annual contribution limits for contributions to registered parties, registered associations, candidates and nomination and leadership contestants to $1,500 per year and by $25 per year after the first year;

  • (b) increases the amount that candidates and leadership contestants may contribute to their own campaigns to $5,000 and $25,000, respectively;

  • (c) permits registered parties and registered associations to make transfers to candidates before their nomination is confirmed by the returning officer;

  • (d) requires a registered party’s auditor to complete a compliance audit in relation to its election expenses return indicating that the party has complied with the political financing rules;

  • (e) requires registered parties, registered associations and candidates to disclose details of expenses for voter contact calling services in their returns;

  • (f) reforms the rules governing unpaid claims, making it an offence for claims to remain unpaid after three years and strengthening the reporting of unpaid claims;

  • (g) reforms the reporting requirements of leadership contestants;

  • (h) permits higher spending limits for registered parties and candidates if an election period is longer than the 37-day minimum;

  • (i) includes new rules on political loans; and

  • (j) defines “capital asset” for the purposes of reporting the distribution cost of advertising or promotional material transmitted to the public using a capital asset, so that the expense is reported as the corresponding rental value for the period in which it was used, and for the purpose of the disposal of the campaign surplus.

With respect to voter identification, the enactment amends the Act to require the same voter identification for voting at the office of the returning officer in an elector’s own riding as it requires for voting at ordinary polls. It also prohibits the use of the voter information card as proof of identity, eliminates the ability of an elector to prove their identity through vouching, allows an elector to swear a written oath of their residence provided that their residence is attested to on oath by another elector, and requires an elector whose name was crossed off the electors’ list in error to take a written oath before receiving a ballot.

The enactment also amends the Act to provide an extra day of advance polling on the eighth day before polling day, creating a block of four consecutive advance polling days between the tenth and seventh days before polling day. It requires a separate ballot box for each day of advance polling and details procedures for the opening and closing of ballot boxes during an advance poll. Finally, it gives returning officers the authority to recover ballot boxes on the Chief Electoral Officer’s direction if the integrity of the vote is at risk.

The enactment also amends the Act to, among other things, establish a process to communicate polling station locations to electors, candidates and political parties, to provide that only an elector’s year of birth is to be displayed on the lists of electors used at the polls, instead of the full date of birth, to permit candidates’ representatives to move to any polling station in the electoral district after being sworn in at any polling station in the district and to establish a procedure for judicial recounts.

The enactment further amends the Act to change how the Commissioner of Canada Elections is appointed. It establishes that the Commissioner is to be appointed by the Director of Public Prosecutions for a seven-year term, subject to removal for cause, that the Commissioner is to be housed within the Director’s office but is to conduct investigations independently from the Director, and that the Commissioner is to be a deputy head for the purposes of hiring staff for his or her office and for managing human resources.

The enactment also amends the Act to add the offence of impersonating or causing another person to impersonate a candidate, a candidate’s representative, a representative of a registered party or registered association, the Chief Electoral Officer, a member of the Chief Electoral Officer’s staff, an election officer or a person authorized to act on the Chief Electoral Officer’s or an election officer’s behalf. It also adds the offences of providing false information in the course of an investigation and obstructing a person conducting an investigation. In addition, it creates offences in relation to registration on the lists of electors, registration on polling day, registration at an advance polling station and obligations to keep scripts and recordings used in the provision of voter contact calling services.

The enactment further amends the Act to provide for increases in the amount of penalties. For the more serious offences, it raises the maximum fine from $2,000 to $20,000 on summary conviction and from $5,000 to $50,000 on conviction on indictment. For most strict liability offences, it raises the maximum fine from $1,000 to $2,000. For registered parties, it raises the maximum fine from $25,000 to $50,000 on summary conviction for strict liability political financing offences and from $25,000 to $100,000 on summary conviction for political financing offences that are committed intentionally. For third parties that are groups or corporations that fail to register as third parties, it raises the maximum fine to $50,000 for strict liability offences and to $100,000 for offences that are committed intentionally and for offences applying primarily to broadcasters, it raises the maximum fine from $25,000 to $50,000.

The enactment amends the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act to authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to provide administrative support to electoral boundary commissions. It amends the Telecommunications Act to create new offences relating to voter contact calling services and to allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to use the inspection and investigation regime in that Act to administer and enforce part of the voter contact calling services regime in the Canada Elections Act. It amends the Conflict of Interest Act to have that Act apply to the Chief Electoral Officer. It also amends the Director of Public Prosecutions Act to provide that the Director of Public Prosecutions reports on the activities of the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Finally, the enactment includes transitional provisions that, among other things, provide for the transfer of staff and appropriations from the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to support the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Fair Elections Act.

2000, c. 9CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

Amendments to the Act

  •  (1) The definition “Commissioner” in subsection 2(1) of the Canada Elections Act is replaced by the following:

    “Commissioner”

    « commissaire »

    “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Canada Elections appointed under subsection 509(1).

  • Marginal note:2003, c. 19, s. 1(1)

    (2) The definitions “candidate”, “chief agent”, “election period”, “electoral district agent”, “eligible party”, “leadership campaign agent”, “leadership campaign expense”, “leadership contestant”, “nomination campaign expense”, “nomination contestant”, “official agent”, “registered agent”, “registered association” and “registered party” in subsection 2(1) of the Act are replaced by the following:

    “candidate”

    « candidat »

    “candidate” means a person whose nomination as a candidate at an election has been confirmed under subsection 71(1) and who, or whose official agent, has not yet complied with sections 477.59 to 477.72 and 477.8 to 477.84 in respect of that election.

    “chief agent”

    « agent principal »

    “chief agent” means the chief agent named in the application of a political party to become a registered party as required under paragraph 385(2)(h) or a chief agent’s replacement appointed under subsection 400(1).

    “election period”

    « période électorale »

    “election period” means the period beginning with the issue of the writ and ending on polling day or, if the writ is withdrawn under subsection 59(1) or is deemed to be withdrawn under subsection 31(3) of the Parliament of Canada Act, on the day that the writ is withdrawn or deemed to be withdrawn.

    “electoral district agent”

    « agent de circonscription »

    “electoral district agent” means a person appointed under subsection 456(1), and includes the financial agent of a registered association.

    “eligible party”

    « parti admissible »

    “eligible party” means a political party that satisfies the criteria for registration set out in section 387.

    “leadership campaign agent”

    « agent de campagne à la direction »

    “leadership campaign agent” means a person appointed under subsection 478.5(1), and includes the financial agent of a leadership contestant.

    “leadership campaign expense”

    « dépense de campagne à la direction »

    “leadership campaign expense” means an expense reasonably incurred by or on behalf of a leadership contestant during a leadership contest as an incidence of the contest, including a personal expense as defined in section 478.

    “leadership contestant”

    « candidat à la direction »

    “leadership contestant” means a person who has been registered in the registry of leadership contestants referred to in section 478.4 in respect of a leadership contest and who, or whose financial agent, has not yet complied with sections 478.8 to 478.97 in respect of that leadership contest.

    “nomination campaign expense”

    « dépense de campagne d’investiture »

    “nomination campaign expense” means an expense reasonably incurred by or on behalf of a nomination contestant during a nomination contest as an incidence of the contest, including a personal expense as defined in section 476.

    “nomination contestant”

    « candidat à l’investiture »

    “nomination contestant” means a person who is named as a nomination contestant under paragraph 476.1(1)(c) in a report filed in accordance with subsection 476.1(1) in respect of a nomination contest and who, or whose financial agent, has not yet complied with sections 476.75 to 476.94 in respect of that nomination contest.

    “official agent”

    « agent officiel »

    “official agent” means a person appointed under subsection 477.1(1) or an official agent’s replacement appointed under section 477.42.

    “registered agent”

    « agent enregistré »

    “registered agent” means a person appointed under subsection 396(1), and includes the chief agent of a registered party.

    “registered association”

    « association enregistrée »

    “registered association” means an electoral district association that is registered in the registry of electoral district associations referred to in section 455.

    “registered party”

    « parti enregistré »

    “registered party” means a political party that is registered in the registry of political parties referred to in section 394 as a registered party.

  • (3) The definition contribution monétaire in subsection 2(1) of the French version of the Act is replaced by the following:

    « contribution monétaire »

    “monetary contribution”

    contribution monétaire Toute somme d’argent versée et non remboursable.

  • (4) The definition “election documents” in subsection 2(1) of the Act is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (e), by adding “and” at the end of paragraph (f) and by adding the following after paragraph (f):

    • (g) the prescribed forms referred to in section 162 and any other prescribed form to be used at a polling station that contains personal information relating to an elector.

  • (5) Paragraph (c) of the definition “judge” in subsection 2(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    • (c) in relation to the Provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, a judge of the Supreme Court of the Province;

  • (6) Paragraph (e) of the definition “judge” in subsection 2(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    • (e) in relation to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador;

  • (7) Subsection 2(1) of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

    “capital asset”

    « bien immobilisé »

    “capital asset” means any property with a commercial value of more than $200 that is normally used outside an election period other than for the purposes of an election.

  • Marginal note:2006, c. 9, s. 39

    (8) Subsection 2(2) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    • Marginal note:Commercial value of capital assets

      (1.1) For the purposes of this Act, the commercial value of any capital asset that is used during an election period is the lower of

      • (a) the commercial value of the rental of the same kind of asset during the period during which the capital asset was used, and

      • (b) the commercial value of the same kind of asset if one were purchased.

    • Marginal note:No commercial value

      (2) For the purposes of this Act, other than section 477.9, the commercial value of property or a service is deemed to be nil if

      • (a) the property or service is provided by a Canadian citizen, or a permanent resident as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, who is not in the business of providing that property or service; and

      • (b) the commercial value of the property or service is $200 or less.

  • (9) Section 2 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (5):

    • Definition of “polling day”

      (6) If a writ for an election is withdrawn under subsection 59(1) or is deemed to be withdrawn under subsection 31(3) of the Parliament of Canada Act, then, in Part 17 and Divisions 1, 2, 4 and 5 of Part 18, “polling day” means the day that the writ is withdrawn or deemed to be withdrawn.

 Section 13 of the Act is replaced by the following:

Marginal note:Appointment and term of office
  • 13. (1) There shall be a Chief Electoral Officer who shall be appointed by resolution of the House of Commons to hold office during good behaviour for a term of 10 years. He or she may be removed for cause by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:No re-appointment

    (2) A person who has served as Chief Electoral Officer is not eligible for re-appointment to that office.

 
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