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REFORM PARTY APPLICATION

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am here today to announce my decision regarding the applications made by Mr. Preston Manning, the Leader of the Reform Party of Canada and received on March 27, 2000. The Reform Party has asked me to change their registration under section 25 of the Canada Elections Act in three respects:

  • first, to change the full name of the "Reform Party of Canada" to the "Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance";
  • second, to change the short form "Reform" to "Canadian Alliance"; and
  • third, to change the logo of the party.

There was considerable advance public speculation that this application would be made. As a result, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian Action Party both wrote to me prior to the application being received. They raised concerns about the possibility of confusion between the potential name change by the Reform Party and their names and they requested an opportunity to make submissions in the event that an application were made.

The Reform Party had also made earlier inquiries concerning the legal requirements for any proposed change and sought my tentative comments respecting a number of possible names. At that time I advised the Reform Party that I could not give a definitive view as no formal application had been received, but I did offer tentative comments on the various names provided to me.

The law which I am required to apply in the case of a name change is quite clear. The application is made under section 25 of the Act, but the legal test is found in subsection 24(4). To paraphrase section 24(4), it says that: "the Chief Electoral Officer shall not register a political party where …

(a) the Chief Electoral Officer is of the opinion that the name, the short form or the abbreviation of the name or the logo of the party so nearly resembles the name, the short form or the abbreviation of the name or the logo, as the case may be, of

(i) a registered party, or
(ii) another political party the application for registration of which was made first in time and the leader of which has not been informed that the party cannot be registered,

as to be likely to be confused with the registered party or the other political party; …." (underlining added)

My task, then, is to determine if the full name "Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance," the short form "Canadian Alliance" or the proposed logo so nearly resemble those of another party in our registry as to be likely to be confused with that other party.

At the outset, I would like to note two matters. First, I did not take into account any unregistered names, short forms, abbreviations or logos, since that is not what the law requires me to do. I have considered the proposal and only those items registered in our registry. Second, I did not take it upon myself to sort out the intentions of the parties in the competition for votes and similarities or differences in their policy positions. As the Progressive Conservatives put it in their submission at paragraph 73: "The only test for name registration must therefore be the likelihood of confusion with an existing party because of its name, regardless of ideological content."

I have received and studied submissions on this matter from the Reform Party of Canada, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian Action Party as well as a fax from the Rest of Canada Party. I have also reviewed the history of the names of political parties in Canada including previous occasions when the Chief Electoral Officer was called upon to review proposed names for the possibility of confusion. I also looked at political party names at the national level in several other countries around the world. I have carefully considered all this information in reaching my decision. I also received a few letters and e-mails from the public on this subject.

The law calls for the Chief Electoral Officer to form an opinion. The perspective which I took in approaching this matter was that of the reasonable Canadian elector, who is at the core of our electoral system, indeed of our democracy. Would a reasonable Canadian elector be likely to be confused?

The Canadian political landscape at the federal level is quite diversified, perhaps more so than at any other time in Canadian history. This makes the decision on this application even more important, in that the Chief Electoral Officer must allow for that diversity of viewpoint and choice, sanctioned by law and history, while allowing only names that are not likely to confuse electors.

I looked over and over the full names of all the parties, the short forms or abbreviations of their names and their logos on our registry, comparing them to the proposals by the Reform Party.

Full name

With respect to the application concerning the full name, I have concluded that the proposed name "Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance" does not so nearly resemble the name of any of the parties in our registry so as to be likely to be confused with any of those parties.

For this reason I have accepted the application to change the full name of the Reform Party of Canada to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance.

Short form

With respect to the application concerning the short form, which is the name that traditionally appears on the ballot, I have concluded that the proposed short form "Canadian Alliance" does not so nearly resemble the short form of the name of any of the parties in our registry so as to be likely to be confused with any of those parties.

For this reason I have accepted the application to change the short form "Reform" to "Canadian Alliance".

Logo

With respect to the application concerning the logo, I have concluded that the proposed logo does not so nearly resemble the logo of any of the parties in our registry so as to be likely to be confused with any of those parties.

For this reason I have accepted the application to change the logo of the Reform Party as requested in this application.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I wish to announce that I have accepted the proposed change in the name, short form and logo of the Reform Party of Canada, in accordance with the Canada Elections Act. The Reform Party of Canada will now be registered as the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, retroactive to March 27, 2000, when I received the application.

By way of courtesy, the leaders of the three federal parties concerned were informed of this decision just before this announcement.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley
Chief Electoral Officer

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