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Chief Electoral Officer Responds to Conclusion Reached by the Commissioner of Canada Elections

Ottawa, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

  • The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Marc Mayrand, has been informed of the results of the review conducted by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, Yves Côté, in the matter of the Liberal Party of Canada's 2006 leadership contest. Following that contest, several of the party's leadership contestants were left with substantial unpaid loans and claims.
  • The Chief Electoral Officer referred the matter to the Commissioner once the relevant extension periods permitted under the Canada Elections Act for repayment of outstanding loans and claims had expired and the necessary audits were completed. The Commissioner is the independent officer appointed under section 509 of the Canada Elections Act whose duty is to ensure that the Act is complied with and enforced.
  • The Chief Electoral Officer has stated publicly on a number of occasions that the current Canada Elections Act provisions regarding loans and other unpaid claims are unworkable.
  • The conclusion of the Commissioner, which was reached following a thorough review of the relevant provisions of the Canada Elections Act and extensive consultations with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, confirms the Chief Electoral Officer's position and highlights the urgent need for legislative reform in this area.
  • The Chief Electoral Officer has written to the Minister of State for Democratic Reform to advise him of the outcome of this matter and to again stress the need to include changes to the political loans regime in the expected electoral reform legislation.

"It is clear that the leadership contestants who continue to have unpaid debts from the Liberal Party of Canada's 2006 leadership contest are not in compliance with the Canada Elections Act," said Mr. Mayrand. "However, the Act, as currently drafted, does not provide a means by which these contestants can be sanctioned or compelled to repay their outstanding debts."

Mr. Mayrand further stated: "The recent conclusion reached by the Commissioner of Canada Elections points to a significant gap in the legislation that allows candidates and leadership contestants to fund their campaigns through loans which they do not repay, thereby defeating the strict limit on contributions set out by the Canada Elections Act. Legislation is urgently needed to provide effective remedies to guard against this practice and to maintain the integrity of our political financing regime."


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