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Leading Federal Elections

Transcript of video

Music fades in.

Visual: Medium shot of a man's hands behind a desk, as he places an election writ onto a pile in front of him and uses a pen to sign it.

Text on Screen: What We're Here For: Reflections from Canada's Chief Electoral Officers

Visual: The black and white headshots of four men appear in a line on a black background.

Text on Screen: Four chief electoral officers reflect on a half-century of evolution.

Visual: The headshots fade out and a close-up of former Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jean-Marc Hamel's black and white headshot appears on screen, then switches to a medium shot of Hamel seated in a grey armchair in front of a burgundy curtain. Part of a Canadian flag is visible on the left.

Text on Screen: Jean-Marc Hamel, 1966–1990

Audio: When I first showed up at Elections Canada in June 1966, the office was in the basement of a small building with 11 employees.

Visual: While Hamel speaks, a black and white photo appears on screen of him holding an envelope in the Elections Canada office, as workers seated at desks in a circle behind him prepare documents. The photo fades out and returns to Hamel seated in the chair. While he is speaking, a black and white photo appears of a man standing at a table in a mailroom, tending to large envelopes. There are stacks of envelopes all around him, and a couple of other workers appear to the right and back of the image. The photo fades out and returns again to Hamel seated in the chair.

Audio: At the beginning, I had to send a telegram to every returning officer because that was in the Act.

Visual: A close-up of former CEO Jean-Pierre Kingsley's black and white headshot appears on screen, then, switches to a medium shot of Kingsley seated in a grey armchair in front of a burgundy curtain. Part of a Canadian flag is visible on the left.

Text on Screen: Jean-Pierre Kingsley, 1990–2007

Audio: What we're noticing, now, is that the world does not remain stable or unchanged.

Visual: A photo of Kingsley and another man leaning over a map of Canada appears on screen, then, fades out. The shot returns to Kingsley seated in the armchair.

Audio: Which means that Elections Canada must now be at the forefront of these changes and be able to come out with practical recommendations to Parliament.

Visual: A close-up of former CEO Marc Mayrand's black and white head shot appears on screen, then, switches to a medium shot of Mayrand seated in a grey armchair in front of a navy backdrop. A Canadian flag is visible on the left.

Text on Screen: Marc Mayrand, 2007–2016

Audio: Elections Canada needs to keep in mind that each and every Canadian citizen has a right to vote.

Visual: A photo fades in that shows a man in a wheelchair smiling as he places a ballot into a white, cardboard ballot box. An election worker seated next to him smiles and holds the ballot box. The photo fades out and the shot returns to Mayrand seated in the armchair.

Audio: And our job is to make sure that whatever barrier, circumstances they are facing, our job is to make sure that these barriers are eliminated or reduced to the minimum. And the job is never over.

Visual: A close-up of CEO Stéphane Perrault's black and white head shot appears on screen, then switches to show Perrault seated in front of a navy backdrop with a Canadian flag on the left.

Text on Screen: Stéphane Perrault, 2018–Present

Audio: I think in the long term, when we look at what we do, we deliver accessible services, we deliver trusted elections. The agency has been for Canadians sort of an anchor of stability.

Visual: A photo of a news conference fades in, as Perrault speaks. It shows Perrault and four other election officials seated in front of microphones at a long wooden desk. To the left of the desk, these is a screen showing the Elections Canada logo. The photo fades out and returns to Perrault.

Audio: And the model of Elections Canada is one that we are privileged to have, which is, a separate independent agency whose sole mandate is to administer the election and, in the case of federal elections, for the entire country in a way that is coherent, in a way that is accountable, in a way that people can rely on.

Visual: The screen fades to black, and a white Elections Canada logo appears.

Text on Screen: Elections Canada 100 Years–Supporting our democracy since 1920

Music fades out.

"…in every way a permanent and independent officer."

Hugh Guthrie, Acting Solicitor General, House of Commons debates, March 11, 1920.

The Chief Electoral Officer is the parliamentary officer responsible for administering fair and democratic federal elections in Canada. In leading Elections Canada, he or she ensures all eligible Canadians have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote and be a candidate. The Chief Electoral Officer is also responsible for registering political parties, monitoring legal requirements related to political financing, and ensuring safeguards are built into every aspect of the electoral system.

One Hundred Years – Seven Leaders

Only seven people have held the position of Chief Electoral Officer in the last 100 years. When the office was first created, the Chief Electoral Officer was named for life in the same way Supreme Court judges were at the time. Now, Parliament appoints the Chief Electoral Officer for a fixed 10-year term.

Here's a look at some of the ways past Chief Electoral Officers contributed to Canadian democracy while they held the position. You can learn more about each one by clicking on their name.

Oliver Mowat Biggar (1920–1927)
Black and white headshot of middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie, facing camera with serious expression

As Canada's first Chief Electoral Officer, Oliver Biggar organized the vote for an electorate that doubled in size after women gained the same voting rights as men.

Jules Castonguay (1927–1949)
Black and white headshot of a middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie, looking to the side left with serious expression

During the Second World War, Jules Castonguay made sure that Canadian military members serving overseas could vote, whether they were stationed in Europe, Africa or Asia.

Nelson Jules Castonguay (1949–1966)
Black and white photo of a middle aged man smiling with his arms crossed; standing in front of a wall of metal ballot boxes

Nelson Castonguay oversaw changes that allowed all Canadians to vote early if they were going to be away on election day. Previously only those with certain occupations, such as railway workers, had this right.

Credit: Library and Archives Canada, PA-169808

Jean-Marc Hamel (1966–1990)
Black and white photo of a middle aged man with glasses holding up two rectangular labels that are attached to large canvas bags

Jean-Marc Hamel improved voting services for electors with disabilities by increasing accessibility at polling stations and adding tools for voters who were visually impaired.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley (1990–2007)
A bald middle-aged man peers down at a map of Canada set up on a table

Jean-Pierre Kingsley helped usher Elections Canada into the modern age by creating a permanent register of electors and overseeing the creation of the agency's first Web site.

Marc Mayrand (2007–2016)
A middle-aged man with glasses stands at a wooden podium speaking into a microphone

Marc Mayrand launched online voter registration, which made it easier for Canadians to update their information and for Elections Canada to keep the National Register of Electors accurate.

Stéphane Perrault (2018–)
A middle-aged man with glasses sits at a desk while signing a large stack of official-looking documents

Stéphane Perrault, the current Chief Electoral Officer, oversaw Canada's most recent federal election, which included new measures to protect against inaccurate voting information.

Did you know?

As outlined in the Canada Elections Act, the Chief Electoral Officer is the only Canadian citizen of voting age who is not allowed to vote in federal elections. This is because of his or her duty to uphold the principles of absolute neutrality and impartiality.