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New Administrative Monetary Penalties Regime

With the enactment of Bill C-76 (the Elections Modernization Act), a new compliance and enforcement measure was created in the Canada Elections Act that allows the Commissioner of Canada Elections to issue notices of violation requiring the payment of administrative monetary penalties.

For more information on the new administrative monetary penalties regime administered by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, please consult the Administrative Monetary Penalties page on the Commissioner’s website.

Notices of Violations Issued by the Commissioner

Section 508.1 of the Canada Elections Act (the Act) provides that any person or entity that

  • contravenes section 281.3, 281.4 or 281.5 or a provision of any of parts 16, 17 and 18 of the Act, or
  • fails to comply with a requirement of the Chief Electoral Officer under any of parts 16, 17 and 18 of the Act, with a provision of a compliance agreement or with a provision of an undertaking that has been accepted by the Commissioner

commits a violation and is liable to pay an administrative monetary penalty.

If the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that a person or entity has committed a violation, the Commissioner may issue a notice of violation that:

  • sets out the person or entity’s name;
  • identifies the provision of the Act that was contravened or the requirement or provision of the compliance agreement or undertaking, that was not complied with;
  • identifies the act or omission to which the violation relates;
  • sets out the amount of the administrative monetary penalty for the violation;
  • sets out the particulars concerning the manner of payment;
  • informs the person or entity of their right to request a review by the Chief Electoral Officer or the Commissioner, as the case may be, of the alleged violation or proposed penalty and sets out the manner for doing so;
  • informs the person or entity that, if they provide an undertaking that is accepted by the Commissioner, the proceedings commenced by the notice will be ended; and
  • informs the person or entity of the consequences of failing to pay the penalty, request a review or provide the Commissioner with an undertaking.

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Right to Request a Review of a Notice of Violation

If you have received a notice of violation from the Commissioner of Canada Elections and you disagree with the content of the notice, you may request a review of the amount of the penalty, the facts of the violation, or both.

You can request a review:

  • by the Commissioner, if the amount of the penalty is $500 or less for a notice of violation issued to an individual, or $1,500 or less for one issued to a corporation or an entity; or
  • by the Chief Electoral Officer, if the amount of the penalty is more than $500 in the case of a notice of violation issued to an individual, or more than $1,500, in the case of a notice of violation issued to a corporation or an entity.

When a review is requested, the Chief Electoral Officer or the Commissioner, as the case may be, must do one or more of the following:

  • determine, on a balance of probabilities, whether the person or entity committed the violation;
  • confirm or reduce the amount of the administrative monetary penalty; or
  • determine that there should be no administrative monetary penalty in respect of the violation.

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How to Request a Review

You must request a review within 30 days after the day on which you were served with the notice of violation or, if you provided an undertaking to the Commissioner, within 30 days after the day on which you were served with a notice informing you that your undertaking has not been accepted. The date of service will be indicated on the notice issued by the Commissioner.

The request must be made in the manner specified in the notice of violation. All requests for review must be submitted to the Commissioner of Canada Elections (Attn: Chief of Compliance), where the requests will be triaged. If the review is to be conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Chief of Compliance will transfer the request to the Chief Electoral Officer.

If you wish to request a review of a notice of violation issued by the Commissioner, please visit the Commissioner’s website and fill out the “Form to Request a Review”.

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Review Process

The review process will be conducted in writing, as the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner are only authorized by the Canada Elections Act to consider written evidence and written submissions when making a decision on a review application.

Where the Chief Electoral Officer is responsible for the review, a member of the staff of the Chief Electoral Officer will contact you and provide you with the applicable timelines and instructions on how to prepare and communicate the written evidence and submissions in support of your request. They will also provide you with a copy of the record compiled by the office of the Commissioner.

The Chief Electoral Officer will review all submissions before making a decision on the application. Determinations regarding whether or not the person committed the violation must be made on a balance of probabilities. This legal standard of proof means that the violation is more likely than not to have occurred (the probabilities are higher than 50%). The Chief Electoral Officer may also review the amount of the administrative monetary penalty to determine whether it should be maintained or reduced, or whether there should be no penalty in respect of the violation.

Once the Chief Electoral Officer has made a decision, it will be communicated in writing to you and to the Commissioner.

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Rules for Service of a Decision of the Chief Electoral Officer

Once the Chief Electoral Officer has made a decision on a review, he must provide a copy of the decision by serving the decision on the person or entity that requested the review, in the manner set out below. He must also provide a copy of the decision to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Section 521.21 of the Canada Elections Act provides that the Chief Electoral Officer must determine the manner of service of his review decision and publish the information on the process on his website. For the purposes of section 521.21 of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer has determined that service of a copy of a decision will be made to the applicant in one of the following manners:

  • by registered mail or courier to the address provided by the applicant; or
  • electronically to the email address provided by the applicant.

Whether service is made by mail or email is at the discretion of the applicant. On the Form to Request a Review, the applicant is required to indicate their preference for how documents are to be delivered.

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Judicial Review

The Canada Elections Act does not provide for a right to appeal a decision of the Chief Electoral Officer or of the Commissioner of Canada Elections on a request for review of a notice of violation.

If you do not agree with the review decision of the Chief Electoral Officer or the Commissioner of Canada Elections, you may instead seek a judicial review of the decision under the Federal Courts Act.

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