Referendum Act (S.C. 1992, c. 30)

Act current to 2014-08-05 and last amended on 2005-12-31. Previous Versions

Referendum Act

S.C. 1992, c. 30

Assented to 1992-06-23

An Act to provide for referendums on the Constitution of Canada

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 Referendum Act.

INTERPRETATION

Marginal note:Definitions
  •  (1) In this Act,

    “chief agent”

    « agent principal »

    “chief agent”, in respect of a registered referendum committee, means the person recorded in the registry maintained under section 17 as the chief agent of that committee;

    “contribution”

    « contribution »

    “contribution” means money, and the commercial value of goods and services, other than volunteer labour, provided by any person, group or government, whether as a contribution, gift, loan, advance, deposit or otherwise, to any other person or group to be used by that other person or group for the purposes of a referendum, but does not include

    • (a) money provided in the normal course of business, by way of loan, advance or other means of lending, under normal terms and conditions, including the rate of interest thereon, for money provided in that way, and

    • (b) the actual cost to the recipient thereof of goods and services provided in the normal course of business at not less than their commercial value;

    “electoral district”

    « circonscription »

    “electoral district”, in respect of a referendum, means any place or territorial area that would be entitled, at a general election, to return a member to serve in the House of Commons if that House were dissolved on the day on which the proclamation is issued;

    “federal party”

    « parti fédéral »

    “federal party” means any political party that has one or more elected members in the House of Commons on the day on which writs of referendum are issued;

    “group”

    « groupe »

    “group” means any unincorporated trade union, trade association or other group of persons acting together by mutual consent for a common purpose, and includes a federal party and a provincial party;

    “oppose”

    « s’opposer »

    “oppose”, in respect of a referendum question, means to be in favour of voting “no” to the question;

    “polling day”

    « jour du scrutin »

    “polling day”, in respect of a referendum, means the day named in the writs of referendum on which the poll is to be held at the referendum;

    “proclamation”

    « proclamation »

    “proclamation” means a proclamation referred to in subsection 3(1);

    “provincial party”

    « parti provincial »

    “provincial party” means any political party that has one or more elected members in a provincial legislature on the day on which writs of referendum are issued or, if the legislature is then dissolved, had one or more of those members immediately before dissolution;

    “referendum”

    « référendum »

    “referendum” means a referendum held pursuant to a proclamation;

    “referendum committee”

    « comité référendaire »

    “referendum committee” means any person who, or group that, intends to incur referendum expenses over five thousand dollars;

    “referendum expenses”

    « dépenses référendaires »

    “referendum expenses” means

    • (a) amounts paid,

    • (b) liabilities incurred,

    • (c) the commercial value of goods and services, other than volunteer labour, donated or provided, and

    • (d) amounts that represent the differences between amounts paid and liabilities incurred for goods and services, other than volunteer labour, and the commercial value thereof where they are provided at less than their commercial value,

    (all of which are in this definition referred to as the “cost”) for the purpose of supporting or opposing, directly and during a referendum period, a referendum question and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes the following costs when incurred for that purpose:

    • (e) the cost of acquiring the right to the use of time on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking or of acquiring the right to the publication of an advertisement in any periodical publication,

    • (f) the cost of acquiring the services of any person, including remuneration paid to the person or on behalf of the person, as an agent or otherwise, except where the services are donated or provided free of charge,

    • (g) the cost of acquiring meeting space, of provision of light refreshment and of acquiring and distributing mailing objects, material or devices of a promotional nature, and

    • (h) the cost of goods or services provided by a government,

    but does not include any costs incurred by a member of the Senate or the House of Commons in the discharge of the member’s duties and paid out of any allowance or other amount provided to the member pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act;

    “referendum finances return”

    « rapport financier référendaire »

    “referendum finances return” means the return required by subsection 19(1) to be filed with the Chief Electoral Officer by the chief agent of a registered referendum committee and includes the bills, vouchers and receipts referred to in subsection 19(2);

    “referendum period”

    « période référendaire »

    “referendum period” means the period beginning on the day on which the text of the referendum question is approved under section 5 and ending on polling day at the referendum;

    “referendum question”

    « question référendaire »

    “referendum question” means a question directed to be put to electors by a proclamation;

    “registered referendum committee”

    « comité référendaire enregistré »

    “registered referendum committee” means a referendum committee that is registered under section 13;

    “support”

    « favoriser »

    “support”, in respect of a referendum question, means to be in favour of voting “yes” to the question.

  • Marginal note:Words and expressions

    (2) Unless a contrary intention appears, words and expressions used in this Act have the same meaning as in the Canada Elections Act.

PROCLAMATION OF REFERENDUM

Marginal note:Proclamation of referendum
  •  (1) Where the Governor in Council considers that it is in the public interest to obtain by means of a referendum the opinion of electors on any question relating to the Constitution of Canada, the Governor in Council may, by proclamation, direct that the opinion of electors be obtained by putting the question to the electors of Canada or of one or more provinces specified in the proclamation at a referendum called for that purpose.

  • Marginal note:More than one question

    (2) A proclamation may direct that more than one question be put to electors.

  • Marginal note:Wording of question

    (3) A referendum question shall be so worded that each elector may express an opinion on the question by making a cross or other mark after the word “yes” or “no” on the ballot paper.

  • Marginal note:Form of ballot paper

    (4) The Chief Electoral Officer shall, for the purpose of a referendum, modify the form of the ballot paper used at a general election in such manner as, in the Chief Electoral Officer’s opinion, will best achieve that purpose.

  • Marginal note:Language

    (5) The Chief Electoral Officer shall ensure that the text of a referendum question is available in such aboriginal languages and in such places in those languages, as the Chief Electoral Officer, after consultation with representatives of aboriginal groups, may determine.

Marginal note:Restrictions

 No proclamation may be issued

  • (a) when the House of Commons stands dissolved; or

  • (b) before, or more than forty-five days after, the text of the referendum question has been approved under section 5.

Marginal note:Motion for approval of referendum question
  •  (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (4), a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada referred to in section 4.1 of the Salaries Act may, in accordance with the procedures of the House of Commons, give notice of a motion for the approval of the text of a referendum question.

  • Marginal note:Consultation

    (2) The Leader of the Opposition and the leader of each political party having a recognized membership of twelve or more persons in the House of Commons shall be provided with, and be consulted about, the proposed text of a referendum question at least three days before notice of the motion for approval of the text is given.

  • Marginal note:Extended hours

    (3) On the filing of a request with the Speaker of the House of Commons by any fifteen members of the House after consultation under subsection (2) has commenced, the House shall sit beyond the normal hour of adjournment on each day on which the House is considering the motion until no further member rises in debate, but in any event, not later than midnight.

  • Marginal note:Consideration of motion

    (4) The motion shall be moved and considered by the House of Commons on the next sitting day of the House following the day on which notice of the motion was given.

  • Marginal note:Vote

    (5) On the expiration of the third sitting day of the House of Commons on which the motion is considered, or at such earlier time as the House is ready for the question, the Speaker shall forthwith, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary for the disposition of the motion.

  • Marginal note:Motion for concurrence

    (6) If the motion is adopted by the House of Commons, with or without amendment, a message shall be sent from that House informing the Senate that the motion has been so adopted and requesting that the motion be concurred in by the Senate.

  • Marginal note:Consideration of motion

    (7) A motion that is the subject of a request for concurrence shall be dealt with by the Senate in accordance with subsections (4) and (5).

  • Marginal note:Concurrence in amendments

    (8) If the motion is amended by the Senate, the motion in the House of Commons to concur in the amendment shall be moved and disposed of on the next sitting day of the House following the day on which the message of the amendment was received by the House, and any further amendment by the House shall be similarly dealt with in the Senate.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 5;
  • 2005, c. 16, s. 15.

WRITS OF REFERENDUM

Marginal note:Issue of writs of referendum
  •  (1) On the issue of a proclamation, the Chief Electoral Officer shall, in accordance with the proclamation, issue writs of referendum in the form set out in Schedule I for all electoral districts in Canada or in the province or provinces specified in the proclamation.

  • Marginal note:Date of writs

    (2) Writs of referendum shall be dated on such day as the Governor in Council may determine.

  • Marginal note:Polling day

    (3) Polling day at a referendum shall be determined by the Governor in Council and be specified in the writs of referendum.

  • Marginal note:Forwarding to returning officers

    (4) Writs of referendum shall be directed to the persons appointed pursuant to the Canada Elections Act as returning officers for the various electoral districts and shall be forwarded to them by the Chief Electoral Officer forthwith after their issue.

  • Marginal note:Restrictions

    (5) Writs of referendum may not be issued during a general election nor may they be dated on a day later than the thirty-sixth day before polling day at the referendum.

  • Marginal note:Deemed withdrawal of writs of referendum

    (6) Where writs of election at a general election are issued during the period beginning on the day on which writs of referendum are issued and ending on polling day at the referendum, the writs of referendum shall be deemed to be withdrawn on the day on which the writs of election are issued.

  • Marginal note:Notice of withdrawal of writs to be published

    (7) Where writs of referendum are deemed by subsection (6) to be withdrawn, a notice of the withdrawal of the writs shall be published in the Canada Gazette by the Chief Electoral Officer.

CONDUCT OF REFERENDUM

Marginal note:Application of Canada Elections Act to referendum
  •  (1) Subject to this Act, the Canada Elections Act, as adapted pursuant to subsection (3), applies in respect of a referendum, and, for the purposes of that application, the issue of writs of referendum shall be deemed to be the issue of writs for a general election.

  • Marginal note:Provisions not applicable

    (2) The provisions of the Canada Elections Act referred to in Schedule II do not apply in respect of a referendum.

  • Marginal note:Regulations

    (3) Subject to this Act, the Chief Electoral Officer may, by regulation, adapt the Canada Elections Act in such manner as the Chief Electoral Officer considers necessary for the purposes of applying that Act in respect of a referendum.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (4) The Chief Electoral Officer may make regulations

    • (a) respecting the conduct of a referendum; and

    • (b) generally for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Act.

  • Marginal note:No examination

    (5) Section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply in respect of a regulation made pursuant to subsection (3) or (4).

  • Marginal note:Deposit of regulation with Clerk

    (6) A copy of each regulation that the Chief Electoral Officer proposes to make under this section shall be deposited with the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Commons at least seven days before the day on which the regulation is proposed to be made.

  • Marginal note:Reference to committee

    (7) A regulation deposited with the Clerk of the Senate stands referred to such committee of the Senate, if any, as is designated or established, prior to the deposit, to review the regulation, and a regulation deposited with the Clerk of the House of Commons stands referred to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform established on February 14, 1992 or, if that Special Committee no longer exists, to such committee of the House of Commons as may be designated or established to review the regulation, and the committees may make such recommendations to the Chief Electoral Officer with respect to the regulation as they consider appropriate.

 [Repealed, 1996, c. 35, s. 88]

Marginal note:Appointment of deputy returning officers
  •  (1) As soon as convenient after the issue of the writ for a referendum, a returning officer shall, by writing in the prescribed form executed under his hand, appoint one deputy returning officer in each polling division in the electoral district to be appointed from lists supplied by the registered party whose candidate finished first in the electoral district in the last election.

  • Marginal note:Appointment of poll clerks

    (2) As soon as convenient after the issue of the writ for a referendum, a returning officer shall, by writing in the prescribed form executed under his hand, appoint one poll clerk in each polling division in the electoral district to be appointed from lists supplied by the registered party whose candidate finished second in the electoral district in the last election.

  • (3) to (5) [Repealed, 1996, c. 35, s. 89]

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 9.1;
  • 1996, c. 35, s. 89.
Marginal note:Lists made available
  •  (1) On a request made before Friday, the tenth day before polling day, by an agent designated in writing for an electoral district by the leader of a registered referendum committee, a federal party or a provincial party, the returning officer for the electoral district shall

    • (a) before Monday, the seventh day before polling day, furnish the agent with one copy of the certified preliminary list of electors for any polling division in the electoral district specified by the agent; and

    • (b) before polling day, furnish the agent with one copy of any amendments to the certified preliminary list of electors and one copy of the lists of electors who have voted in that polling division before polling day.

  • Marginal note:Misuse prohibited

    (2) No person shall, for any purpose not related to the conduct of the referendum or an election, copy or use a list or any part of a list furnished to an agent under this section.

Marginal note:Appointment of agents
  •  (1) The agent of each registered referendum committee designated pursuant to subsection 10(1) may appoint in writing one agent of the committee to be present when voting is taking place at each polling station in the electoral districts in which it indicated, in its application for registration under section 13, it intends to support or oppose the referendum question.

  • Marginal note:Appointment of witnesses

    (2) In the absence at a polling station in an electoral district of an agent of at least one of the registered referendum committees that support the referendum question or an agent of at least one of those committees that oppose the question or if there is no registered referendum committee that supports or opposes the question in that district, the returning officer for the district shall, as far as possible, appoint a person who supports or opposes the question, as the case may be, to act as a witness at that polling station when voting is taking place.

  • Marginal note:Rights and obligations

    (3) Each agent of a registered referendum committee, and each witness, appointed for a polling station in an electoral district has, for the purposes of proceedings at the polling station, all the rights and obligations under the Canada Elections Act of a candidate’s agent for that polling station.

Marginal note:Appointments in writing and on oath

 Every person appointed pursuant to section 11 shall be appointed in writing and shall take such oath of office as the Chief Electoral Officer may specify.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 12;
  • 1996, c. 35, s. 90.

REGISTRATION OF REFERENDUM COMMITTEES

Marginal note:Application for registration
  •  (1) A referendum committee may apply for registration for the purposes of a referendum by filing with the Chief Electoral Officer, at any time during the referendum period, an application in accordance with this section.

  • Marginal note:Contents of application

    (2) An application for registration shall be signed by the leader of the referendum committee and shall

    • (a) set out

      • (i) the full name of the committee,

      • (ii) the name, address and telephone number of the leader of the committee,

      • (iii) the address and telephone number of the office of the committee where its books and records are kept and of the office to which communications may be addressed,

      • (iv) the name, address, telephone number and title of each officer of the committee,

      • (v) the name, address and telephone number of the auditor of the committee, and

      • (vi) the name, address and telephone number of the chief agent of the committee;

    • (b) indicate the electoral districts in which the committee intends to support or oppose the referendum question; and

    • (c) be accompanied by two statements, one signed by the person named pursuant to subparagraph (a)(v) and the other signed by the person named pursuant to subparagraph (a)(vi), that the signer has accepted the appointment as auditor or chief agent, as the case may be, of the committee.

  • Marginal note:Examination and disposition of application

    (3) Forthwith on receipt of an application for registration of a referendum committee, the Chief Electoral Officer shall examine the application and determine whether the committee can be registered and shall

    • (a) if the committee can be registered, register it and so inform the person who signed the application; or

    • (b) if the committee cannot be registered, inform the person who signed the application that the committee cannot be registered and indicate the reason why it cannot be registered.

  • Marginal note:Restrictions on registration

    (4) A referendum committee cannot be registered if

    • (a) the application for registration does not comply with this section; or

    • (b) the name of the committee so resembles the name of a previously registered referendum committee that the committee is likely to be confused with that previously registered referendum committee.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (5) A referendum committee cannot be registered if the name or logo of the committee is the name or logo of a federal party or a provincial party or so resembles such a name or logo that the committee is likely to be confused with the party, unless the committee is that party.

  • Marginal note:Name of parties

    (6) For the purposes of subsection (5), the name of a party means

    • (a) the full name of the party; and

    • (b) any name, or abbreviation of a name, used to identify the party in election documents.

  • Marginal note:Examination in order of receipt

    (7) Applications for registration shall be examined in the order in which they were received by the Chief Electoral Officer.

  • Marginal note:Amendment of information

    (8) Subject to subsections 18(2) and (3), where a referendum committee is registered and any information given by the committee pursuant to subsection (2) or this subsection ceases to be applicable or to be complete or accurate, the committee shall forthwith send a report in writing, signed by the leader or chief agent of the committee, to the Chief Electoral Officer setting out such information as is necessary to bring the information up to date.

  • Marginal note:Validity of registration

    (9) The registration of a referendum committee for the purposes of a referendum is valid only for that referendum.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 13;
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 566(F).

REFERENDUM EXPENSES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

Marginal note:Restriction on contributions

 No registered referendum committee shall accept contributions from

  • (a) an individual who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;

  • (b) a corporation that does not carry on business in Canada;

  • (c) a trade union that does not hold bargaining rights for employees in Canada; or

  • (d) a foreign government or an agent thereof.

Marginal note:Limit on referendum expenses
  •  (1) No person or group, other than a registered referendum committee, shall incur referendum expenses during a referendum period that, in the aggregate, exceed five thousand dollars.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (2) No registered referendum committee shall incur referendum expenses during a referendum period that, in the aggregate, exceed the product obtained by multiplying the number referred to in subsection (3) by the number of names appearing on all preliminary lists of electors at the referendum for the electoral districts in which the committee indicated, in its application for registration under section 13, it intends to support or oppose the referendum question.

  • Marginal note:Escalator

    (3) For the purposes of subsection (2), the number

    • (a) for the year commencing on April 1, 1992, is 56.4 cents; and

    • (b) for the year commencing on any subsequent April 1 is the product obtained by multiplying 30 cents by the fraction published pursuant to subsection 39(2) of the Canada Elections Act for that year.

  • Marginal note:Records

    (4) Every registered referendum committee shall keep such record of the referendum expenses and contributions of the committee as the Chief Electoral Officer may prescribe.

  • Marginal note:Bank accounts

    (5) Every registered referendum committee shall, with any of the following financial institutions, keep such accounts and make such deposits therein and payments therefrom as the Chief Electoral Officer may prescribe:

    • (a) a member of the Canadian Payments Association; and

    • (b) any local cooperative credit society that is a member of a central cooperative credit society having membership in the Canadian Payments Association.

Marginal note:Payment out of contributions
  •  (1) A registered referendum committee that incurs referendum expenses during the referendum period shall pay the expenses out of contributions received by it during or after that period, except that it shall not knowingly pay them out of contributions accepted contrary to subsection (4).

  • Marginal note:Use of borrowed money

    (2) Money provided to a registered referendum committee in the manner and under the conditions described in paragraph (a) of the definition “contribution” in subsection 2(1) may be used to pay referendum expenses incurred by the committee during the referendum period.

  • Marginal note:Repayment of borrowed money

    (3) Before the chief agent of a registered referendum committee files the referendum finances return with the Chief Electoral Officer, the committee shall repay any money provided and used as described in subsection (2) and pay any interest thereon or other charges or costs of obtaining it out of contributions received by the committee during or after the referendum period.

  • Marginal note:No contributions after return filed

    (4) No person shall accept a contribution on behalf of a registered referendum committee after the chief agent of the committee has filed the referendum finances return.

  • Marginal note:Repayment of contribution

    (5) Any person who accepts a contribution contrary to subsection (4) shall return the amount of the contribution to the contributor or, if that is not possible, shall pay that amount to Her Majesty in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (6) Where the aggregate of all contributions received by a registered referendum committee exceeds the aggregate of all referendum expenses and other expenses incurred by the committee before the chief agent of the committee files the referendum finances return with the Chief Electoral Officer, the committee shall return the amount of the excess to the contributors in proportion to their contributions or, to the extent that a return is not possible, shall pay to Her Majesty in right of Canada an amount equal to the amount of the excess that is not returnable.

  • Marginal note:Debt due to Her Majesty

    (7) Any amount not paid as required by subsection (5) or (6) is a debt due to Her Majesty in right of Canada and is recoverable as such in any court of competent jurisdiction.

AGENTS AND AUDITORS

Marginal note:Registry of chief agents

 The Chief Electoral Officer shall maintain a registry of chief agents of registered referendum committees in which shall be recorded the name, address and telephone number of the chief agent of each such committee.

Marginal note:Appointment of chief agent and auditor
  •  (1) Every referendum committee that intends to apply for registration under section 13 shall, before applying, appoint a chief agent and an auditor.

  • Marginal note:Appointment of new chief agent

    (2) Where the position of chief agent of a registered referendum committee or of a referendum committee that has applied for registration becomes vacant or the chief agent is unable to perform the duties of chief agent, the committee shall forthwith appoint a new chief agent and file with the Chief Electoral Officer a notice in writing, signed by the leader of the committee, of the name, address and telephone number of the new chief agent and a statement, signed by the new chief agent, that the signer has accepted the appointment as chief agent of the committee.

  • Marginal note:Appointment of new auditor

    (3) Where the position of auditor of a registered referendum committee or of a referendum committee that has applied for registration becomes vacant or the auditor ceases to be qualified as an auditor or becomes ineligible to act as an auditor before having complied with this Act in respect of any referendum finances return of the committee, the committee shall forthwith appoint a new auditor and file with the Chief Electoral Officer a notice in writing, signed by the leader of the committee, of the name, address and telephone number of the new auditor and a statement, signed by the new auditor, that the signer has accepted the appointment as auditor of the committee.

  • Marginal note:Election officers ineligible

    (4) No returning officer or assistant returning officer, or the partner or employee of any of them, shall act as chief agent or auditor of any registered referendum committee.

Marginal note:Return by chief agent
  •  (1) Within four months after polling day at a referendum, the chief agent of each registered referendum committee shall file with the Chief Electoral Officer a true return, signed by the chief agent, substantially in prescribed form and containing detailed statements of

    • (a) all referendum expenses incurred by the committee;

    • (b) the amount of the contributions received during and after the referendum period by the committee from each of the following classes of contributors:

      • (i) individuals,

      • (ii) corporations the shares of which are publicly traded,

      • (iii) corporations the shares of which are not publicly traded,

      • (iv) trade unions,

      • (v) corporations without share capital, other than trade unions,

      • (vi) political parties,

      • (vii) governments, and

      • (viii) other groups;

    • (c) the number of contributors in each class described in paragraph (b); and

    • (d) the name of each contributor, listed according to the classes described in paragraph (b), that made one or more contributions to the committee during or after the referendum period that exceeded, or the aggregate of which exceeded, two hundred and fifty dollars and, in each case, the amount of the contribution or aggregate.

  • Marginal note:Other documents

    (2) Each return shall include the auditor’s report thereon and the originals of all bills, vouchers and receipts related thereto and be accompanied by an affidavit or statutory declaration made by the chief agent in prescribed form.

Marginal note:Auditor’s report
  •  (1) The auditor of a registered referendum committee shall make a report to the chief agent of the committee on the referendum finances return of the committee and shall make such examinations as will enable the auditor to state in the report whether in the auditor’s opinion the return presents fairly the financial transactions contained in the accounting records on which it is based.

  • Marginal note:Explanatory statement

    (2) An auditor’s report shall contain such statements as the auditor considers necessary where

    • (a) the referendum finances return does not present fairly the information contained in the accounting records on which it is based;

    • (b) the auditor has not received from agents and officers of the committee all the information and explanations that the auditor required; or

    • (c) proper accounting records have not been kept by the committee, so far as appears from the auditor’s examination.

  • Marginal note:Right of access

    (3) The auditor of a registered referendum committee is entitled to have access at all reasonable times to all records, documents, books, accounts, bills, vouchers and receipts of the committee, and is entitled to require from agents and officers of the committee such information and explanations as in the auditor’s opinion may be necessary to enable the auditor to report as required by subsection (1).

REFERENDUM BROADCASTS

Marginal note:Provision of free broadcasting time
  •  (1) In the period beginning on Thursday, the eighteenth day before polling day, and ending on the second day before polling day, every network operator

    • (a) that reaches the majority of those Canadians whose mother tongue is the same as that in which the network broadcasts,

    • (b) that is licensed with respect to more than a particular series of programs or type of programming, and

    • (c) that does not involve any distribution undertaking within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act,

    shall, subject to the regulations made pursuant to that Act and to the conditions of its licence, make available, at no cost, to registered referendum committees for the transmission of referendum announcements and other programming produced by or on behalf of those committees an aggregate of three hours of broadcasting time during prime time.

  • Marginal note:Determination of population reached

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a network is deemed to reach

    • (a) people resident within those areas served by broadcasting stations affiliated to the network that

      • (i) in the case of A.M. radio stations, are enclosed by the night-time interference-free official contour of the stations,

      • (ii) in the case of F.M. radio stations, are enclosed by the fifty microvolt per metre official contour of the stations, and

      • (iii) in the case of television stations, are enclosed by the Grade B official contour of the stations; and

    • (b) people resident outside the areas described in paragraph (a) to whom the signals of broadcasting stations affiliated to the network are available via distribution undertakings licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Marginal note:Allocation of free broadcasting time
  •  (1) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, before Sunday, the twenty-second day before polling day, allocate the broadcasting time to be made available under section 21 among the registered referendum committees that are entitled to be considered for the allocation, in such manner that the time is allocated equally to committees that support the referendum question and committees that oppose it.

  • Marginal note:Committees entitled to be considered

    (2) A registered referendum committee is entitled to be considered for the allocation of broadcasting time if it

    • (a) applied for registration under section 13 before Tuesday, the twenty-seventh day before polling day;

    • (b) indicated in the application that it wishes to be considered for the allocation, on which network it wishes the time to be made available to it and whether it supports or opposes the referendum question; and

    • (c) paid a deposit of five hundred dollars in legal tender or a certified cheque made payable to the Receiver General.

  • Marginal note:Criteria

    (3) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall allocate broadcasting time in a manner that is fair to all the registered referendum committees entitled to be considered for the allocation and that is not contrary to the public interest, and, in considering the allocation of broadcasting time to a particular registered referendum committee, the Broadcasting Arbitrator shall consider whether

    • (a) the committee represents a significant regional or national interest;

    • (b) allocation to the committee would be equitable having regard to the different views expressed on the referendum question; and

    • (c) the referendum announcements and other programming proposed by the committee would be directly related to the referendum question.

  • Marginal note:Additional information

    (4) In order to allocate broadcasting time, the Broadcasting Arbitrator may request additional information from any registered referendum committee entitled to be considered for the allocation.

  • Marginal note:Notification

    (5) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, as soon as possible after completing the allocation and, in any event, not later than Monday, the twenty-first day before polling day, send a notice in writing of the allocation to every registered referendum committee considered for the allocation, every network affected by the allocation and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

  • Marginal note:Deposits

    (6) The deposit paid by a registered referendum committee entitled to be considered for an allocation of broadcasting time

    • (a) shall be returned to the committee, if it is not allocated time or uses all the time allocated to it; or

    • (b) is forfeited to Her Majesty in right of Canada, if the committee does not use all the time allocated to it.

  • Marginal note:Allocation binding

    (7) An allocation of broadcasting time to be made available by a broadcasting network is final and binding on the network and on all registered referendum committees entitled to be considered for the allocation.

Marginal note:Information to registered referendum committees

 The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, on request, provide all registered referendum committees that are entitled to be considered for the allocation of broadcasting time with the names and addresses of all network operators.

Marginal note:Free time not referendum expense
  •  (1) The commercial value of any free broadcasting time made available to a registered referendum committee under section 21 shall be deemed not to be a referendum expense.

  • Marginal note:Free time not commercial time

    (2) Notwithstanding subsection 21(1), the Broadcasting Act, any regulations made under that Act and any conditions of a licence of a network operator, free broadcasting time shall not be considered to be commercial time.

Marginal note:Notice of preference
  •  (1) Each registered referendum committee to which free broadcasting time is allocated shall, not later than Tuesday, the twentieth day before polling day, send to each network operator that is to provide the time a notice in writing of the days and hours when the committee wishes the time to be made available to it.

  • Marginal note:Consultation

    (2) Within two days after receiving the notice, the network operator shall consult with the registered referendum committee that sent the notice for the purpose of reaching an agreement on the days and hours when the broadcasting time is to be made available to the committee.

  • Marginal note:Where no agreement

    (3) Where no agreement is reached under subsection (2), the matter shall be referred to the Broadcasting Arbitrator and the Arbitrator shall forthwith decide the days and hours when broadcasting time is to be made available to the registered referendum committee and give notice of the decision to the committee and the network operator.

  • Marginal note:Factors

    (4) In making a decision under subsection (3), the Broadcasting Arbitrator shall take into account the following principles:

    • (a) that each registered referendum committee should, as far as possible, have the freedom and flexibility to determine the actual broadcasting time it wishes to be made available to it; and

    • (b) that any broadcasting time to be made available to any registered referendum committee should be made available fairly throughout prime time.

  • Marginal note:Decision binding

    (5) A decision under subsection (3) is final and binding on the registered referendum committee and on the network operator.

Marginal note:C.R.T.C. guidelines
  •  (1) The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission shall, not later than three days after the issue of the writs of referendum, send to the Broadcasting Arbitrator guidelines respecting the application of the Broadcasting Act and the regulations made under that Act to network operators in relation to the referendum.

  • Marginal note:Broadcasting Arbitrator guidelines

    (2) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, not later than five days after the issue of the writs of referendum, issue to all network operators

    • (a) guidelines covering

      • (i) the allocation of free broadcasting time under this Act,

      • (ii) the procedures for booking free broadcasting time by registered referendum committees, and

      • (iii) such other matters as may be pertinent to the conduct of network operators under this Act; and

    • (b) the guidelines sent to the Broadcasting Arbitrator pursuant to subsection (1).

Marginal note:Blackout period
  •  (1) No person shall, for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question, advertise on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking or publish an advertisement in a periodical publication on polling day or the day preceding polling day.

  • Marginal note:Presumption

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a notice of a function, meeting or other event that a registered referendum committee intends to hold or a notice of invitation to meet or hear a representative of a registered referendum committee at a specific place is deemed not to be an advertisement for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question.

Marginal note:Referendum advertisements

 No person shall, for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question, advertise on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking, publish an advertisement in a periodical publication or display or distribute an advertisement on a handbill, placard or poster, unless the advertisement identifies the sponsor of the advertisement and indicates that the advertisement is authorized by that sponsor.

RECOUNTS

Marginal note:Application by Her Majesty in right of Canada
  •  (1) Her Majesty in right of Canada may, not later than ten days after the validation of results has been completed in an electoral district, apply for a recount of the votes cast in the electoral district on a referendum question to a judge to whom an application for a recount may be made under the Canada Elections Act in respect of the electoral district.

  • Marginal note:Application by Her Majesty in right of a province or an elector

    (2) Her Majesty in right of a province or any elector ordinarily resident in a province may, not later than ten days after the validation of results has been completed in an electoral district in the province, apply for a recount of the votes cast in the electoral district on a referendum question to a judge to whom an application for a recount may be made under the Canada Elections Act in respect of the electoral district.

  • Marginal note:Affidavits

    (3) An application shall be supported by one or more affidavits or statutory declarations of persons having personal knowledge of the matters to which they attest.

  • Marginal note:Service

    (4) A copy of an application by Her Majesty in right of a province or an elector and the affidavit or statutory declaration in support thereof shall be served on the Attorney General of Canada not less than five days before the application is to be heard by a judge.

  • Marginal note:Recount

    (5) The judge to whom an application is made shall order that the recount be carried out and shall appoint a time for commencing the recount, if the judge is satisfied that

    • (a) votes cast in the electoral district on the referendum question may have been wrongly rejected, counted, added or reported; and

    • (b) there is a reasonable possibility that, if the votes are properly rejected, counted, added and reported, the opinion of the majority of the electors in the electoral district who cast ballots on that question will be shown to be opposite to what it was shown to be by the original count.

  • Marginal note:Time

    (6) A recount shall be commenced within four days after it was ordered.

  • Marginal note:Costs

    (7) No costs shall be awarded on an application under this section.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 29;
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 568.
Marginal note:Electors entitled to be present

 Where, at a recount under section 29 of the votes cast on a referendum question, the judge is satisfied that either the electors who support the question or those who oppose it are not represented at the recount, any three electors who demand to attend on behalf of the electors who are not so represented are entitled to attend, but, except with the permission of the judge, no persons other than those who are by this section entitled to attend at the recount shall be permitted to attend.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 30;
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 569(F).

INFORMATION PROGRAMS

Marginal note:Information provided by Chief Electoral Officer
  •  (1) The Chief Electoral Officer shall, as soon as possible after the issue of a proclamation, inform the public, by such means as the Chief Electoral Officer considers appropriate, of the referendum question and the manner in which the referendum will be conducted.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as requiring or authorizing the Chief Electoral Officer to inform, or answer inquiries from, the public with respect to any argument in support of or in opposition to any referendum question.

PARTICIPATION BY PUBLIC SERVANTS AND REFERENDUM OFFICERS

Marginal note:Definitions
  •  (1) In this section,

    “public servant”

    « fonctionnaire »

    “public servant” means a deputy head or an employee as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Public Service Employment Act, but does not include a person on the staff of the Chief Electoral Officer;

    “referendum officer”

    « fonctionnaire référendaire »

    “referendum officer” means returning officers, assistant returning officers, additional assistant returning officers, persons authorized by a returning officer to perform duties under this Act, revising agents, deputy returning officers, poll clerks, registration officers, information officers, persons responsible for maintaining order at a central polling place, central poll supervisors, persons appointed to collect ballot boxes, the special voting rules administrator, special ballot officers, liaison officers for correctional institutions and deputy returning officers and poll clerks for correctional institutions.

  • Marginal note:Participation not precluded

    (2) Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act is not to be construed or applied so as to restrict the right of a public servant to participate fully in respect of a referendum.

  • Marginal note:Regulations

    (3) Where, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, the participation of public servants or any class of public servants in a referendum would likely impair the ability of the public servants or public servants in that class to discharge the responsibilities of their positions, the Governor in Council may make regulations limiting their participation in the referendum.

  • Marginal note:Referendum officers

    (4) Referendum officers shall, in performing their duties and functions under this Act, act impartially and not in any way show favour to any side in a referendum.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 32;
  • 1996, c. 35, s. 91;
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 570;
  • 2003, c. 22, s. 244.

CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER’S COSTS

Marginal note:Costs payable out of Consolidated Revenue Fund

 All costs incurred by the Chief Electoral Officer in performing the duties and functions imposed by this Act shall be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

OFFENCES

Marginal note:General offence — persons
  •  (1) Every person who contravenes subsection 10(2), 16(4), 18(4), 20(1) or 32(4) is guilty of an offence and is liable

    • (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both; or

    • (b) on indictment, to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (2) Every person who does or omits to do anything in respect of a referendum that, if done or omitted to be done in respect of an election, would constitute an offence under the Canada Elections Act is guilty of an offence under this Act and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:Failure to assist auditor

    (3) Every agent or officer of a registered referendum committee who

    • (a) refuses to allow the auditor of the committee to have access to any records, documents, books, accounts, bills, vouchers and receipts of the committee to which the auditor is entitled to have access under subsection 20(3),

    • (b) fails to provide the auditor with any information or explanations that the auditor has required and is entitled to require from the agent or officer under that subsection, or

    • (c) provides the auditor with any information or explanation knowing that it is false, misleading or incomplete in a material particular,

    is guilty of an offence and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:General offence — referendum committees

    (4) Every referendum committee that contravenes subsection 13(8), 15(4) or (5) or 18(1), (2) or (3) is guilty of an offence and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:Filing false application

    (5) Every referendum committee that files an application under section 13 knowing that it is false, misleading or incomplete in a material particular is guilty of an offence and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

Marginal note:Excess referendum expenses
  •  (1) Every person who, or group that, contravenes subsection 15(1) is guilty of an offence and is liable

    • (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both; or

    • (b) on indictment, to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.

  • Marginal note:Payments

    (2) Every registered referendum committee that contravenes section 14 or subsection 15(2) or 16(1) or (3) is guilty of an offence and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

  • Marginal note:Referendum finances return

    (3) Every chief agent who contravenes subsection 19(1) or who files a return under that subsection knowing that it is false, misleading or incomplete in a material particular is guilty of an offence and is liable to punishment as described in subsection (1).

Marginal note:Broadcasting time
  •  (1) Every network operator that contravenes subsection 21(1) or fails to comply with any allocation of free broadcasting time under section 22 is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars.

  • Marginal note:Advertising restrictions

    (2) Every person who contravenes subsection 27(1) or section 28 is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars.

Marginal note:Groups deemed to be persons
  •  (1) A prosecution for an offence against this Act by a group may be brought against and in the name of the group and, for the purposes of the prosecution, the group shall be deemed to be a person and any act or thing done or omitted to be done by the leader or by another officer or an agent of the group within the scope of the leader’s, officer’s or agent’s authority to act on behalf of the group shall be deemed to be an act or thing done or omitted to be done by the group.

  • Marginal note:Name in prosecution

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a prosecution against a group, other than a registered referendum committee, may be brought against the group in any of the following names:

    • (a) the name chosen by the group to identify itself;

    • (b) any name by which the group is commonly known; and

    • (c) the names, collectively, of the persons who are, or who perform the functions of, the leader and treasurer of the group.

  • Marginal note:Idem

    (3) Where a group is prosecuted under the names referred to in paragraph (2)(c), the names shall be followed by the expression “as representing a group”.

Marginal note:References in offence provisions

 For the purposes of a prosecution or proceeding under this Act, the references in section 508, subsection 510(1), section 511 and subsections 512(1), 514(1) and 515(1) and (3) of the Canada Elections Act to “this Act” shall be construed as references to “the Referendum Act”.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 38;
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 571.

 [Repealed, 1996, c. 35, s. 92]

REVIEW OF ACT

Marginal note:Review of Act
  •  (1) On the expiration of three years after the coming into force of this Act, this Act shall be referred to such committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament as may be designated or established for the purpose of reviewing this Act.

  • Marginal note:Report

    (2) The committee to which this Act is referred shall review the Act and submit a report thereon to the House or Houses of Parliament of which it is a committee, including a statement of any changes the committee recommends.

COMING INTO FORCE

Marginal note:Coming into force

Footnote * This Act shall come into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

Marginal note:No amendment to apply for six months, except after notice
  • Footnote * (1) No amendment to this Act applies for any purpose within six months after the day on which the amendment comes into force unless, before the expiration of those six months, the Chief Electoral Officer has published in the Canada Gazette a notice that the necessary preparations for the bringing into operation of the amendment have been made, in which case the amendment shall apply for all purposes of this Act on and after the day specified in the notice, which day may not be before the day on which the notice is published.

  • Marginal note:No writ within first three months unless notice

    (2) No writ of referendum may be issued within three months after the day on which this Act comes into force unless, before the expiration of those three months, the Chief Electoral Officer has published in the Canada Gazette a notice that the necessary preparations for the bringing into operation of this Act have been made.

SCHEDULE I(Section 6)WRIT OF REFERENDUM

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Deputy of the Governor General

ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, QUEEN, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

To

of

GREETING:

WHEREAS, pursuant to section 3 of the Referendum Act, His Excellency in Council has issued a Proclamation of Referendum directing that the opinion of electors be obtained with respect to the following question(s):

(set out the question or questions),

WE COMMAND YOU, that notice of the time and place of the referendum having been duly given, that is the . . . . . . . day of . . . . . . . . 19. . ,

YOU DO CAUSE the referendum to be held according to law for the said electoral district in the Province aforesaid respecting the foregoing question(s);

AND YOU DO CAUSE the results of the referendum to be reported to the Chief Electoral Officer as soon thereafter as possible.

Witness: . . . . . . . . . . . , Deputy of Our Right Trusty Well-beloved . . . . . . . . . , Chancellor and Principal Companion of Our Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of Our Order of Military Merit upon whom We have conferred Our Canadian Forces’ Decoration, GOVERNOR GENERAL AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF CANADA.

At Our City of Ottawa, on . . . . . . . . and in the . . . . year of Our Reign.

BY COMMAND,

Chief Electoral Officer

SCHEDULE II(Subsection 7(2))

PROVISIONS OF CANADA ELECTIONS ACT NOT APPLICABLE IN RESPECT OF A REFERENDUM

  • subsections 2(2) and (3)
  • subsections 12(1) to (4)
  • paragraphs 13(c) and (d)
  • sections 23 to 38
  • subsection 39(1)
  • sections 40 to 49
  • sections 60 and 61
  • subsections 71.013(1) and (2)
  • section 71.014
  • sections 71.016 to 71.024
  • subsection 71.12(1)
  • subsection 71.28(5)
  • subsection 71.31(4)
  • paragraph 73(1)(a)
  • sections 76.1 to 78
  • subsection 79(1)
  • paragraph 79(3)(c)
  • subsection 79(5)
  • sections 80 to 93
  • subsections 95(1) and (3)
  • subsection 97(1)
  • sections 97.1 to 97.3
  • sections 100 and 101
  • paragraph 114(1)(a)
  • subsection 115(2)
  • subsection 116(2)
  • subsection 126(3)
  • paragraph 138(2)(a)
  • subsection 147.1(5)
  • subsection 158(2)
  • section 171
  • section 177
  • subsection 179(4)
  • section 183
  • subsections 184(2) to (4)
  • section 184.1
  • paragraph 187(1)(b)
  • subsection 187(3)
  • subsection 191(1)
  • section 192
  • paragraph 193(b)
  • section 194
  • subsections 195(2) and (2.1)
  • subsection 198(4)
  • section 201
  • section 205
  • sections 208 to 248
  • subsections 250(2) to (4)
  • sections 259 to 259.5
  • section 261
  • section 264
  • section 267
  • sections 269 to 272
  • section 278
  • paragraph 279(3)(b)
  • subparagraph 282(b)(i)
  • subsections 303(2) and (3)
  • sections 307 to 322
  • section 327
  • section 329
  • sections 332 to 334
  • Schedule I, Forms 1 and 3
  • Schedule II, subsections 2(2) and (3)
  • Schedule II, section 11
  • Schedule II, subsections 12(2) and (7)
  • Schedule II, subsection 39(2)
  • Schedule II, section 65
  • Schedule II, section 82
  • Schedule II, paragraph 90(1)(d)
  • Schedule II, section 93
  • Schedule II, subsections 104(2) and (3)
  • Schedule II, form of ballot paper
  • 1992, c. 30, Sch. II;
  • 1996, c. 35, s. 93.