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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
on the 38th General Election Held on June 28, 2004

Election advertising

Several provisions in the Canada Elections Act affect advertising by political parties, candidates and third parties during a general election. The aim of these provisions is to promote the level playing field established by the financial provisions of the Act. Canadians have the right to know who is intervening in the political debate and who is doing so through financial support.

Third-party advertising

The Act regulates election advertising by third parties: groups or persons other than candidates, registered political parties or their electoral district associations. After spending $500 on advertising that promoted or opposed a party or candidate during the election campaign, third parties had to register with the Chief Electoral Officer. The Act allows third parties to spend up to $150,000 overall, but not more than $3,000 per electoral district to promote or oppose a candidate in that electoral district, with adjustments for inflation. After adjustment, the spending limits for this general election were $168,900 overall and $3,378 per electoral district.

After an election, third parties must produce a financial report on their election advertising expenses and the sources of the funds financing the advertising.

Sixty-three third parties registered with Elections Canada: 28 groups with authorizing resolutions passed by their governing bodies, 27 without resolutions and 8 individuals. Their financial reports are due by October 28, 2004.

Advertising blackouts

A blackout on election advertising on election day was observed for the 38th general election. The blackout applied to most media, but not to pamphlets, billboards or signs, and not to Internet election advertisements that were published before election day and that did not change on that day.

Political party broadcasting

The Canada Elections Act provides for the appointment of a Broadcasting Arbitrator who allocates broadcasting time to parties under the Act, issues guidelines concerning the obligations of broadcasters during a general election, and arbitrates disputes between political parties and broadcasters concerning the application of the Act. Peter S. Grant, a lawyer specializing in broadcasting matters, has been the Broadcasting Arbitrator since 1992.

Allocation of time available for purchase

During a general election, every broadcaster in Canada is required by the Canada Elections Act to make at least 390 minutes of paid prime-time broadcasting available to registered and eligible parties. The total time allocated during the election rose to 402 minutes when the Libertarian Party of Canada and the Progressive Canadian Party became eligible for registration after April 16, 2004.

Since 1992, the Broadcasting Arbitrator has modified the statutory allocation to provide that one third of the allocated time be divided equally among all registered parties, while two thirds of the allocated time be provided according to the statutory formula. The allocation established by the April 16, 2004, decision of the Broadcasting Arbitrator was in effect for the 38th general election.

The decisions of the Broadcasting Arbitrator on allocating paid time under the Act, as well as guidelines addressing political broadcast issues, are posted on the Elections Canada Web site.

Table 11 :
Allocation of paid time – 38th general election, 2004
Political party Minimum number of minutes:seconds
Liberal Party of Canada 122:30
Conservative Party of Canada 88:30
Bloc Québécois 41:00
New Democratic Party 39:00
Green Party of Canada 20:30
Marijuana Party 18:30
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada 18:30
Canadian Action Party 18:00
Communist Party of Canada 17:30
Christian Heritage Party 6:00
Libertarian Party of Canada 6:00
Progressive Canadian Party 6:00
Total 402:00


Answer to question 4

Before Confederation, Nova Scotia was the only colony that officially denied "Indians" the right to vote. In practice, however, throughout Canada Aboriginal persons were disqualified from voting because under federal law virtually none of them held property as individuals. Soon after Confederation, Ontario decreed that, in places where no electoral lists existed, First Nations people could vote if they gave up their treaty rights and status, including the right to "reside among the Indians." In Manitoba, Indians who received a benefit from the Crown were not entitled to vote. In British Columbia, neither First Nations people nor residents of Chinese descent could vote.

Long before their first contacts with Europeans, First Nations people had established their own systems for choosing their leaders and governing themselves, and had little interest in participating in an unfamiliar system – especially if it meant giving up their individual and group identity.

In 1885, proposals to extend the franchise to Aboriginal people met with considerable hostility. For decades afterwards there was little change in the situation, although in 1924 the right to vote was granted to Aboriginal veterans of World War I (including those living on reserves).

During World War II, large numbers of First Nations people served with distinction in the military, and this was among the reasons leading many Canadians to conclude that the time had come for all Aboriginal people to have the full rights of citizenship. In 1948, the franchise was extended to Inuit, but Indian people still had to give up their treaty rights and status to vote. The last restrictions were dropped in 1960 with the unconditional extension of voting rights to all Registered Indians.

The task remained of making the electoral process understandable and accessible to Aboriginal Canadians. Elections Canada has worked in close partnership with Aboriginal communities and organizations, and has made information available in many Aboriginal languages, encouraging these Canadians to exercise their right to vote.

Allocation of free broadcasting time

Under the Canada Elections Act, in a general election, all "network operators" that provided free broadcasting time in the previous general election must provide as much free broadcasting time to registered and eligible parties as they did during the previous election. The time must be provided to the parties in proportion to the allocation of paid broadcasting time. The free time that the networks were required to allocate to the parties in the 2004 federal general election is shown in Table 12.

Due to a corporate reorganization, CTV ceased to be a "network" in the sense defined under the Broadcasting Act, and was no longer required to provide free broadcasting time in the 2004 general election. This resulted in the loss of one half of the English language free-time television broadcasting to parties in the 2004 general election.

Table 12 :
Allocation of free time – 38th general election, 2004*
Political party Network
CBC Radio One
SRC Première chaîne
Liberal Party of Canada 65 36 18
Conservative Party of Canada 47 26 14
Bloc Québécois 22 12 6
New Democratic Party 21 12 6
Green Party of Canada 11 6 3
Canadian Action Party 10 6 3
Marijuana Party 10 6 3
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada 10 6 3
Communist Party of Canada 9 5 3
Christian Heritage Party 3 2 1
Libertarian Party of Canada 3 2 1
Progressive Canadian Party 3 2 1
Total number of minutes 214 120 62

* Due to rounding, figures may not add up to totals shown.

Arbitrating disputes between parties and broadcasters

Throughout the election, the Broadcasting Arbitrator responded to numerous enquiries from broadcasters and parties seeking guidance on the interpretation of the Canada Elections Act and the application of the guidelines. All complaints and disputes were resolved without the need to issue a binding arbitration order.