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

After election day

For most observers, the media reports of election night results marked the end of the 38th general election. However, returning officers would need to remain available for the validation of results, the return of the writs, the recounts, any contested elections, post-election dealings with candidates and their official agents, reporting on the administration of the event in their electoral districts (including completing a Report of Proceedings), returning material to Elections Canada in Ottawa, and closing their offices.

Validation of the results

Because of the possibility of errors in transcription and addition, the results compiled and reported on election night are considered preliminary only, and must be verified during the validation process. Results confirmed during this validation process are the official results used to declare a candidate elected, unless a judicial recount is requested.

The returning officers and assistant returning officers conducted the validation of the results after election day. As the validated results sent by each returning officer were received in Ottawa, they were posted on the Web and the validation date was indicated. These results included the number of valid ballots, rejected ballots and total ballots cast, as well as the number of valid votes by candidate.

The validation cannot take place until all ballot boxes have been returned from the polling stations; if one ballot box is missing, the validation of the results is adjourned until all boxes are received. The delay cannot exceed a maximum of two weeks beyond the original seven days permitted by law. Candidates were advised of any postponements, since they or their representatives may witness the validation. If there is no such representation, the returning officer must designate two qualified electors to witness the proceedings. A total of 15 adjournments occurred. Some validated results were posted on the Web site as early as June 29, 2004. The last ones were posted on July 10, 2004.

Table 15 :
Adjournments of validation of the results – 38th general election, 2004
Province or territory Electoral district
Newfoundland and Labrador Bonavista–Exploits
Nova Scotia Cape Breton–Canso
Quebec Alfred-Pellan, Manicouagan
Ontario Algoma–Manitoulin–Kapuskasing, Haldimand–Norfolk, Kenora
Saskatchewan Palliser
Alberta Yellowhead
British Columbia Nanaimo–Cowichan, Newton–North Delta, Prince George–Peace River, Vancouver Island North
Northwest Territories Western Arctic
Nunavut Nunavut

In the electoral district of Nunavut, the statement of the vote and the ballots for Arctic Bay (poll 4) could not be located for the validation. Validation was done from the telephone tally sheet, which is filled out for each poll on election night as the results are telephoned to the office of the returning officer. The missing statement and ballots were eventually found on July 22, 2004, in material the returning officer sent to Elections Canada in Ottawa to complete the validation. The missing statement confirmed the results reported on election night.


Within four days of the validation of the results, if the number of votes separating the first- and the second-place candidates is less than 1/1000 of the total votes cast in an electoral district, the Canada Elections Act stipulates that the returning officer must apply for a judicial recount. In other circumstances, any elector may make an application to a judge for a recount within the time prescribed.

Judicial recounts of the ballots were conducted in six electoral districts after election day. In one case, the recount was automatic. In five electoral districts, where the margin between the first two candidates exceeded 1/1000 of the votes cast after the validation of the results, the candidate who came in second requested a recount. In all cases where a recount was conducted, the leading candidate following the validation of results was confirmed as elected.

In the electoral district of Jeanne-Le Ber (Quebec), after validation of the results, a recount was automatically called for. The Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Liza Frulla, had a majority of 35 votes (less than 1/1000 of the 46,304 valid votes cast) over the Bloc Québécois candidate, Thierry St-Cyr. The recount was completed on July 6, 2004, and increased the majority won by Liza Frulla to 72 votes.

In Edmonton–Beaumont (Alberta), the Liberal Party of Canada candidate, David Kilgour, had a majority of 131 votes over the Conservative Party of Canada candidate, Tim Uppal. Following a judicial recount completed on July 7, 2004, the difference between the two candidates was 134 votes.

In Cambridge (Ontario), the Conservative Party of Canada candidate, Gary Goodyear, had a majority of 228 votes over the Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Janko Peric. Following the judicial recount completed on July 7, 2004, the difference between the two candidates was 224 votes.

In Western Arctic (Northwest Territories), the Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, had a majority of 52 votes over the New Democratic Party candidate, Dennis Bevington. The judicial recount began on July 19, 2004, and continued on July 20, 2004, but was terminated at the request of the applicant before it could be completed. Following the partial recount, the difference between the two candidates was 53 votes.

In New Westminster–Coquitlam (British Columbia), the Conservative Party of Canada candidate, Paul Forseth, had a majority of 114 votes over the New Democratic Party candidate, Steve McClurg. The judicial recount, held on July 12, 2004, was terminated at the request of the applicant. Following the partial recount, the difference between the two candidates was 113 votes.

On July 5, a recount was requested in Regina–Lumsden–Lake Centre (Saskatchewan), where the Conservative Party of Canada candidate, Tom Lukiwski, had a majority of 122 votes over the Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Gary Anderson. The recount was terminated on July 9 at the request of the applicant.

Return of the writs

In each electoral district, the candidate who obtains the most votes is not officially elected until the returning officer for the district declares that person the winner of the election. Six clear days after the validation of the results (that is, on the seventh day, unless a recount was held), the returning officer completes the form printed on the back of the writ, known as the "return of the writ" – the official declaration of the election of the candidate who obtained the largest number of votes. In the case of a recount, before declaring a candidate elected, the returning officer has to wait for a certificate from the judge, setting out the number of votes cast for each candidate.

The returning officer then sends a copy of the return of the writ to each candidate, and returns the writ itself – and all other election documents – to the Chief Electoral Officer. In the order that he receives each writ, the Chief Electoral Officer records them and then publishes the names of the elected candidates in the Canada Gazette. The last writ was received by the Chief Electoral Officer on July 20, 2004.

At the 38th general election, of the 308 elected candidates, 101 were new members, 201 were sitting members at the 37th Parliament, and 6 were former members. Of the members elected, 65 were women and 243 were men. Table 16 shows the final number of seats won by each party after election day, compared with standings in the House of Commons at the dissolution of Parliament on May 23, 2004.

Table 16 :
Number of seats in the House of Commons, by political affiliation
Political affiliation At the dissolution of Parliament,
May 23, 2004
After election day,
June 28, 2004
Liberal Party of Canada 168 135
Conservative Party of Canada1 73 99
Bloc Québécois 33 54
New Democratic Party 14 19
Canadian Action Party 0
Christian Heritage Party 0
Communist Party of Canada 0
Green Party of Canada 0
Libertarian Party of Canada 0
Marijuana Party 0
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada 0
Progressive Canadian Party 0
Independent/No affiliation 9 1
Vacant 4
Total 301 3082
  1. After the 2003 by-elections, the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada merged to form the Conservative Party of Canada. The Chief Electoral Officer registered the Conservative Party of Canada on December 7, 2003.
  2. The Representation Order of 2003 came into force at the first dissolution of Parliament that occurred after March 31, 2004.

Contested elections

An elector or a candidate in a particular electoral district may apply to a court specified in the Canada Elections Act to contest an election in that district. Applications may be brought within a specified time and only on the grounds that the elected candidate was not eligible to be a candidate, or that irregularities, fraud, or corrupt or illegal practices affected the result of the election. Applications may not be brought on the grounds for which a judicial recount may be requested.

Applications were brought to contest elections in two electoral districts in Saskatchewan. On July 23, 2004, Dick Proctor, the candidate who came in second place in the electoral district of Palliser, brought an application to contest the election before the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench alleging irregularities affecting the results of the election in that district. On July 30, 2004, Gary Anderson, the candidate who came in second place in the neighbouring electoral district of Regina–Lumsden–Lake Centre also brought an application to contest the election in his district on the same grounds as those alleged by Dick Proctor.

The Court was supplied with copies of the relevant electoral documents without delay, and Mr. Justice Barclay thanked Elections Canada for their speed in making these documents available. After nearly a month of reviewing electoral documents, the applicants were unable to find any evidence to support their claims. Both applications were withdrawn on September 7, 2004, leaving unchanged the results of the elections in Palliser and Regina–Lumsden–Lake Centre.

Final lists of electors

official lists of electorsOn June 28, 2004, a total of 22,295,670 elector names appeared on the official lists used at the polls. As a result of information gathered on election day, new registrants were added and duplicates were removed in order to create the final lists of electors; the final lists contain 22,466,621 elector names.

The number of votes cast was 13,683,570, including advance polls, SVR voters, and ordinary polling day as well as rejected ballots. This results in a final turnout rate of 60.9 percent.

A comparison of the elections in 2000 and 2004 shows a 5.3 percent increase in votes cast, the first increase in the number of votes cast in more than 10 years. However, apparent turnout has again declined, due mainly to an 8.7 percent growth in the Register between 2000 and the start of the 2004 election, as compared to a 4 percent growth in the overall electoral population during the same period. Efforts to register as many eligible electors as possible have resulted in the addition of people traditionally hard to engage: youth and previously unregistered electors.

An in-house analysis of youth registration and turnout is being conducted to assess the impact of the several youth initiatives developed over the past two years. Using the lists of electors in a random sample of polling divisions selected from electoral districts in every province and territory, it is possible to estimate the rate of turnout by age group. The results of this study show that the turnout rate for first-time electors [18 to 21½ years old] was 38.7 percent for the 2004 election. While this appears to be a significant increase over the rate of youth turnout at the 2000 election, which was reported to be 25 percent for those aged 18–24, it should be noted that in light of the different methodologies employed, direct comparisons between the two studies cannot be made.


By early October 2004, 398 complaints related to the 38th general election had been brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. Among these, 312 cases have been resolved and 86 remain open, with investigations underway. The complaints most frequently reported to the Commissioner relate to:

  • failure to indicate the authority for election advertising
  • electors voting more than once
  • conducting election advertising on election day
  • failure of third parties to register with respect to election advertising
  • prevention or impairment of election advertising

At the same time, the new financial provisions of the Act brought about by Bill C-24 accounted for an additional 113 complaints. Most of these dealt with the failure to provide the nomination contest report within the prescribed time limits. Of these cases, 107 have been resolved and 6 remain open.

More offences may be reported. A prosecution for an offence must be instituted within 18 months after the day on which the Commissioner became aware of the facts giving rise to the prosecution, and not later than seven years after the day on which the offence was committed.

In connection with the 38th general election, the Commissioner has entered into three compliance agreements to the date of this report. He is reviewing all instances of non-compliance and may enter into additional compliance agreements with contracting parties.

As the cases progress, updated statistics on complaints, investigations and prosecutions appear in the Chief Electoral Officer's periodic reports and publications, as well as on the Elections Canada Web site.

Reimbursements and election expenses

Within three weeks of election day, Elections Canada issued the initial reimbursement cheques for election expenses to the 844 candidates who were elected or who received 10 percent or more of the valid votes cast in their electoral districts; these constituted about 50 percent of all candidates. The average reimbursement was $11,762.59. Final reimbursements are expected to be made after receipt of the candidates' electoral campaign returns (due no later than October 28, 2004, unless the Chief Electoral Officer grants an extension for valid legislative reasons) and after the Chief Electoral Officer is satisfied that the reporting requirements of the Act have been met.

Payments to election workers

Approximately 160,000 payments were made to advance poll and election day workers; delivery was efficient, with 88 percent of the payments processed within 10 days after election day, and 99 percent within two weeks. This is a significant improvement over the 37th general election.

Payments were issued every two weeks to the returning office workers across the country. Some 72 percent opted for direct deposit to their bank accounts, speeding up the payment process.