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2018–19 Departmental Plan

Operating context and key risks

With the next general election scheduled for October 21, 2019, fiscal year 2018–19 is the last year of preparations before entering into a general election year. In this context, Elections Canada’s overarching focus will be to finalize the transformation initiatives it has undertaken following the 2015 general election, and begin preparations to return to general election readiness. Most of the preparatory work for the next general election will be completed by spring 2019.

Since December 2016, Stéphane Perrault, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Regulatory and Public Affairs, has fulfilled the position of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on an interim basis.

For the 2018–19 fiscal year, Elections Canada has identified two corporate risks that could impede on its ability to deliver on committed results, or affect its reputation with regards to the integrity of the 2019 general election.

Risk Risk Response Strategy Core Responsibility Link to mandate letter commitments or departmental priorities (as applicable)
There is a risk that the regulatory framework for the 2019 general election is not finalized within expected timelines, requiring changes to be implemented over a much shorter period than planned Elections Canada makes planning assumptions that are constantly evolving based on close monitoring of the legislative environment. In the absence of new legislation by April 2018, Elections Canada will implement a service model that is compatible with existing provisions of the Canada Elections Act.

The agency also provides subject-matter expertise and advice to parliamentarians as they complete their work on upcoming legislation to ensure that they are aware of implementation requirements and to seek adjustment to provisions coming into force where possible and required.

Based on strong business and IT governance exercised over all change activities, Elections Canada is able to ensure appropriate prioritization of resources. Redirection of resources, when and where needed, helps ensure timely implementation of new legislation.
Election administration and oversight Delivering improved voter services at the 2019 general election
There is a risk that electoral integrity issues compromise Elections Canada's reputation, the privacy of Canadians, and their trust and ability to participate in the electoral process Elections Canada’s Electoral Integrity Program will monitor the environment, both nationally and internationally.

The agency has implemented cybersecurity safeguards and a “Security by Design” framework for transformation initiatives. Further initiatives will continue to improve the agency’s security posture. These include a cybersecurity audit as well as training and awareness activities both at headquarters and in the field.

Elections Canada has updated its corporate risk framework and continues to monitor the risk environment and linkages to the national security framework. The agency also plans to update its Departmental Security Plan, Business Continuity Plan and emergency planning process.
Election administration and oversight Promoting a fair and transparent electoral process that is free of undue influence

Pending Bills

No electoral legislation affecting federal elections has been enacted in fiscal year 2017–18. At the time of writing this report, there are two government bills and 11 private members' bills before Parliament that may have an impact on Elections Canada's affairs.

Government bills

Bill Proposed Amendments
Bill C-33 Bill C-33 would amend the Canada Elections Act to:
  • remove limitations on public education and information activities conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)
  • establish a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens 14 to 17 years of age may consent to be included
  • authorize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to provide the CEO with information about permanent residents and foreign nationals for the purpose of updating the Register of Electors
  • remove the prohibition on the CEO authorizing the use of the "voter information card" as identification
  • replace, in the context of voter identification, the option of attestation for residence with an option of vouching for identity and residence
  • remove two limitations on voting by non-resident electors: the requirement that they have been residing outside Canada for less than five consecutive years, and the requirement that they intend to return to Canada to resume residence in the future
  • relocate the Commissioner of Canada Elections to within the Office of the CEO, and provide that the Commissioner is to be appointed by the CEO, after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, for a non-renewable term of 10 years.
Bill C-50 Bill C-50 would amend the Canada Elections Act to:
  • enact an advertising and reporting regime for certain fundraising events attended by ministers, party leaders or leadership contestants; and
  • harmonize the rules applicable to the contest expenses of nomination contestants and leadership contestants with the rules applicable to the election expenses of candidates.

Private members' bills

Bill Proposed Amendments
Bill C-213
  • This Bill would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years of age.
Bill C-279
  • This Bill would specify the maximum duration of an election period, and would provide for the postponement of polling day where it would fall between December 20 and January 2.
Bill C-295
  • This Bill would amend the Canada Elections Act to allow all Canadian citizens to vote in a federal election, regardless of their place of residence.
Bill C-297
  • This Bill would change voting hours across Canada.
Bill C-298
  • This Bill would change voting hours in the Pacific time zone.
Bill C-327, Bill C-340, and Bill C-364
  • These Bills would amend the contribution limits and the computation of the funds paid to registered political parties, and make related amendments to the Income Tax Act.
Bill C-212
  • This Bill would amend the Parliament of Canada Act to trigger a by-election when an MP changes political parties (if elected as a member of another party) or joins a party (if elected as an independent).
Bill S-239
  • This Bill would broaden and clarify the prohibition in the Canada Elections Act on inducement of electors by non-residents and make it an offence for a third party to accept a foreign contribution for any purposes related to an election.
Bill C-377
  • This Bill would change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay–Lacolle to Châteauguay–Les Jardins-de-Napierville.

Judicial proceedings

Concluded proceedings

Proceeding Description
Szuchewycz v. Attorney General of Canada This application, filed in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench on November 13, 2015, challenged the constitutionality of the deposit, signature and witness filing prerequisites to running as a candidate in a federal election (specifically s. 66(1)(e), (f), and (g) and s. 67(1), (2), (3) and (4)(a) of the Canada Elections Act) on the ground that they violate s.3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Elections Canada was not named as a party. By judgement dated October 25, 2017, the Court declared the deposit requirement provision (s. 67(4)(a)) unconstitutional in that it breaches s. 3 of the Charter and is not saved by s. 1. It upheld the signature and witness requirement provisions, stating that they do not breach the right to meaningful participation in the electoral process guaranteed by s._3 of the Charter. The Minister of Democratic Institutions has indicated that the Attorney General will not appeal the decision.
Larocque v. Attorney General of Canada, Elections Canada et al. This application was filed on November 24, 2015. The applicant contested the outcome of the election in the electoral district (ED) of Salaberry–Suroit under s. 524 of the Canada Elections Act. He alleged that the redistribution of the boundaries of the ED was unconstitutional. A motion to dismiss the application on the grounds that it is vexatious, frivolous and an abuse of process was filed on February 2, 2017, and heard on April 21, 2017. An oral judgement was issued on September 28, 2017, granting the motion (written reasons released on October 6, 2017). To date, the applicant has not commenced an appeal.
Turmel v. Canada This claim, filed in the Federal Court on April 10, 2015, challenged the constitutionality of the audit fee subsidy "cap of $250" set out in s.477.75 of the Canada Elections Act. Elections Canada was not named as a party. A defence was filed on May 11, 2015. The hearing was held on May 10, 2016, and the matter was dismissed two days later. The plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal before the Federal Court of Appeal on June 13, 2016. On May 1, 2017, the appeal was dismissed for delay. The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the application for leave to appeal on November 23, 2017.
Alex Bobby Megalos v. Elections Canada On June 7, 2017, the plaintiff filed a claim before the Supreme Court of B.C., seeking the right to run for direct election to the office of Independent Prime Minister of Canada, without political party affiliation. On August 14, 2017, the defendant (Elections Canada) filed an application to strike on the basis that the pleadings disclose no reasonable claim and are unnecessary, frivolous, vexatious and embarrassing. The application to strike was granted by way of an oral judgement rendered on October 10, 2017, with costs against the plaintiff fixed at $1,000.

Ongoing proceedings

Proceeding Description
Frank & Duong v. Attorney General of Canada On May 18, 2012, the applicants challenged the constitutionality of the provisions of the Canada Elections Act which prohibit Canadian citizens residing outside Canada for five consecutive years or more from voting by special ballot in a federal election. On May 2, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found the provisions in question to be unconstitutional. On July 20, 2015, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the lower court ruling. The Chief Electoral Officer participated in the matter as an intervenor. The applicants sought and received leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The hearing was scheduled to take place on February 16, 2017. On December 1, 2016, the Attorney General of Canada filed a notice of motion in the Supreme Court of Canada requesting an adjournment, on the ground that the adoption of Bill C-33 (introduced in Parliament on November 24, 2016) would render the appellants' case moot. The Court granted the Attorney General's motion and the hearing of the appeal is now scheduled for March 21, 2018.
Council of Canadians, Canadian Federation of Students, Jessica McCormick, Peggy Walsh Craig, and Sandra McEwing v. Attorney General of Canada On October 9, 2014, the applicants challenged the constitutionality of the Fair Elections Act (FEA) in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleging that, in breach of s. 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, certain provisions place unreasonable restrictions on identification, the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to provide public education programs, and eliminate the CEO's authority regarding enforcement and compliance activities. The applicants also claim that the FEA denies electors an equal opportunity to vote contrary to s. 15 of the Charter. The CEO received leave to intervene. On March 16, 2015, the applicants filed for an injunction requesting a stay of the operation of certain provisions of the FEA. The stay was denied on July 17, 2015, and the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court refused on August 5, 2015, to grant leave to appeal the denial. The original application continues, but the parties have been consenting to adjournments since the tabling of legislation (Bill C-33) that proposes reforms that address some of the contentious provisions. The hearing is currently set to be held from October 15-19, 2018.
David Rodriguez v. PCO and Attorney General of Canada On October 16, 2017, the plaintiff filed a claim in the Federal Court seeking a declaration that ss. 76, 284(1)(b) and (c) of the Canada Elections Act unjustifiably restrict his freedom of expression, contrary to s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He argues that the absence of a "None of the Above" option on a ballot prevents electors from officially expressing dissatisfaction with all of the candidates available to them in a federal election. The Crown's Statement of Defence was served and filed on November 15, 2017 and the plaintiff filed a reply on November 24, 2017. No hearing date has been set. Elections Canada is not named as a party.