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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the November 15, 1999 By-elections Held in Hull–Aylmer, Mount Royal, Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar, York West


This report to the Speaker of the House of Commons describes the by-elections held in the electoral districts of Hull–Aylmer, Mount Royal, Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar and York West on November 15, 1999, and Elections Canada's activities since the Windsor–St. Clair by-election on April 12, 1999.

The process of electoral reform has been a major preoccupation since the previous by-election. On June 7, 1999, Bill C-83, intended to replace the existing Canada Elections Act, was tabled. The proposed legislation resulted from a comprehensive review of electoral issues undertaken in 1998 by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, a committee composed of members of Parliament who are charged with responsibility for electoral matters on behalf of the Canadian people. It was reintroduced as Bill C-2 on October 14, 1999, in the fall session of the 36th Parliament.

The Canadian electoral system has evolved to become known as a model of electoral democracy around the world. Over the years we have sought to put in place an electoral system that is modern, accessible, transparent, and efficient – one that ensures that the electorate can freely choose its elected leaders. A commitment to the continuing process of electoral reform and the improvement of electoral legislation has been one of the principal means for achieving these ends.

As we pursue our goal of a modern and efficient electoral system, we have been able to take advantage of technological developments to implement such improvements as the National Register of Electors. The Register was used to produce preliminary electoral lists for the by-elections. In the four electoral districts, 10 960 revisions were made to the preliminary lists produced from the Register. This number represents less than five percent of the 225 982 electors on the preliminary lists and demonstrates the quality of the information in the National Register of Electors. Revision rates to date have been consistent with the projections made by Elections Canada during the Register's research and feasibility phase in 1996.

In September 1999, Elections Canada established the Advisory Committee to the National Register of Electors, a forum for the exchange of information on data quality and best practices for the management of electronic databases. Participants include Elections Canada's data suppliers, such as motor vehicle and vital statistics registrars, and partners, such as provincial, territorial and municipal electoral agencies that maintain permanent lists of electors.

During this period, Elections Canada, in partnership with Statistics Canada, completed building a digital road network for Canada, known as the National Geographic Database. The database will be used for electoral mapping and will make the National Register of Electors more accessible to electoral agencies that operate with different electoral boundaries. We will be working closely with federal and provincial agencies, as well as the private sector, to keep the digital database up-to-date and to ensure that it reflects the ever-changing network of streets and roads across Canada.

Undoubtedly, as society and technology evolve, the need for both legislative reform and further technological enhancements will continue to emerge from these shifting parameters. In Canada, we have come to view electoral reform as an ongoing task. It is a task undertaken by Parliament, on behalf of the Canadian people, in the knowledge that the results are fundamental to strengthening and upholding our democratic process. It is a privilege for me to serve Parliament and the Canadian people in this endeavour.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley