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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 37th General Election Held on November 27, 2000

Delivering electoral events

10 by-elections

Since the 1997 general election, we have administered 10 by-elections: three in Quebec, two each in British Columbia and Ontario, and one in each of Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

Table 1
By-elections, 1998–2000
Date Riding Number of candidates Successful candidate Political party
March 30, 1998 Port Moody–Coquitlam, British Columbia (now Port Moody–Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam) 8 Lou Sekora Liberal Party of Canada
September 14, 1998 Sherbrooke, Quebec 8 Serge Cardin Bloc Québécois
April 12, 1999 Windsor–St. Clair, Ontario 5 Rick Limoges Liberal Party of Canada
November 15, 1999 Hull–Aylmer, Quebec 9 Marcel Proulx Liberal Party of Canada
November 15, 1999 Mount Royal, Quebec 4 Irwin Cotler Liberal Party of Canada
November 15, 1999 Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar, Saskatchewan 6 Dennis Gruending New Democratic Party
November 15, 1999 York West, Ontario 6 Judy Sgro Liberal Party of Canada
May 15, 2000 St. John's West, Newfoundland 5 Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
September 11, 2000 Kings–Hants, Nova Scotia 5 Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
September 11, 2000 Okanagan–Coquihalla, British Columbia 8 Stockwell Day Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance

The services we provide for a by-election are nearly identical to those for a general election: the only difference is the scale of the effort. For example, we are responsible for training each riding's returning officer and key members of his or her staff, conducting information sessions for candidates, their official agents and their auditors, and providing a toll-free telephone support network to help them carry out their responsibilities under the Canada Elections Act.

After each by-election, we review the financial returns of all candidates, and we table a public report in the House of Commons on all aspects of the by-election. The report also describes Elections Canada's activities since the previous report. For the 10 by-elections, we have published six such reports (when more than one by-election is held on the same day, the events are combined in a single report): in June 1998, November 1998, May 1999, January 2000, July 2000 and November 2000. Each is available on our Web site under General Information, Official Reports.

Once we compile all the by-election voting results, we publish a detailed poll-by-poll statistical report, similar to the report on the last general election: Thirty-sixth General Election 1997: Official Voting Results, in CD-ROM, diskette and printed versions, with a printed synopsis. Our three by-election reports – By-elections 1998: Official Voting Results, By-elections 1999: Official Voting Results and By-elections 2000: Official Voting Results – are also available on our Web site under General Information, Official Reports.

Table 2
Voter turnout for the 10 by-elections
By-election Electors Valid votes cast Voter turnout
Port Moody–Coquitlam 80 586 28 672 35.7%
Sherbrooke 76 101 36 446 48.6%
Windsor–St. Clair 71 152 31 827 45%
Hull–Aylmer 69 893 17 643 25.5%
Mount Royal 62 841 17 200 27.5%
Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar 46 656 15 650 33.7%
York West 49 959 13 529 27.4%
St. John's West 72 697 32 107 44.3%
Kings–Hants 69 319 27 176 39.5%
Okanagan–Coquihalla 68 902 27 619 40.3%


Elections Canada is committed to making voting accessible to all Canadians, through level access to polling stations, alternative procedures for casting a ballot, and special measures to provide information about the electoral process.

To aid electors with a physical disability, returning officers provided level access to all but one of the 2 030 polling stations in the 10 ridings during the by-elections. If a polling site does not have level access, the voter information card must indicate this fact and electors have the option of asking the returning officer for transfer certificates authorizing them to vote at another nearby poll with level access, or to vote using a special ballot.

Other accessibility measures include Elections Canada information and advertising in several heritage languages, templates that make marking the ballot easier for electors with visual impairments, information in large print, and on-call sign language interpreters.

Enforcing the Canada Elections Act

The Commissioner of Canada Elections, appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, is responsible for making sure that the Canada Elections Act is complied with and enforced. The Commissioner, Raymond A. Landry, C.M., may prosecute on his own initiative, after conducting an inquiry at the request of the Chief Electoral Officer, or after receiving a written complaint within six months of an alleged offence. Prosecution must begin within 18 months of the date the offence was committed. Penalties on conviction vary according to the circumstances and the nature of the offence, and could include imprisonment, fines, or both. Additional penalties may also apply, such as performing community service, compensating a victim, or losing the right to run as a candidate in a federal election for either five or seven years.

Following the 1997 general election, by October 2000 the Commissioner had received 873 complaints of alleged offences relating to the election. He authorized 26 prosecutions for the offences of voting when not qualified, failure to submit a financial report and defacing campaign signs. Two cases resulted in acquittals, the proceedings were stayed by the court in nine cases, and 15 offenders were convicted. Details of the convictions are published on our Web site under Electoral Law & Policy, Sentencing Digest.

For the 10 by-elections from 1998 to 2000, the Commissioner received 30 complaints; six files remain open. For the St. John's West by-election of May 15, 2000, three complaints were filed relating to advertisements and financial requirements; two files remain open. Because complainants have six months to file their complaints, the Commissioner may not yet have received all complaints arising from the September 11, 2000, by-elections in Kings–Hants and Okanagan–Coquihalla. There are presently nine complaints; four are resolved and five remain open; these include four under review and one before the courts. The four alleged offences under review for the Okanagan–Coquihalla by-election concern the liability of an election officer, the voters list, and advertising during a blackout period. As for the fifth file, the Commissioner has given his consent to a prosecution under section 328 for premature transmission of election results. The matter is expected to be heard in November 2001. The 18-month deadline to prosecute will not expire until sometime in 2002, depending on when the Commissioner received the complaint and when the alleged offence was committed.

Table 3
Complaints of alleged offences, 1998–2000 by-elections
Date Riding Number of complaints Resolved Cases prosecuted Under review
March 30, 1998 Port Moody–Coquitlam 2 2
September 14, 1998 Sherbrooke 9 9
April 12, 1999 Windsor–St. Clair 1 1
November 15, 1999 Hull–Aylmer 2 2
November 15, 1999 Mount Royal
November 15, 1999 Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar 2 2
November 15, 1999 York West 2 2
May 15, 2000 St. John's West 3 1 2
September 11, 2000 Kings–Hants 3 0 1 2
September 11, 2000 Okanagan–Coquihalla 6 4 0 2