Evidence of meeting #24 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was candidate.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Marc Mayrand  Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada
  • Stéphane Perrault  Senior General Counsel and Senior Director, Legal Services, Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

11:55 a.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Yes, I agree. It can only be used for those purposes set out in the Canada Elections Act.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you.

Before I ask more detailed questions, could you update us on the Conservative in and out scandal? What is the status of that? There was a decision, an appeal and an appeal of the appeal. What is the current status of that case, Mr. Mayrand?

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

As I indicated earlier in response to another question, there's a civil case where there's been an appeal by both parties. Those appeals will be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal at the end of November.

As to the investigative matter, it is publicly known that the file is now with the DPP. The DPP is reviewing the file and we'll see what takes place.

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you.

Some of your suggestions for amending the regulations are excellent, in my opinion. Some of the others I find less impressive, however.

One of your suggestions is that the names of political staff now be provided to you by the riding associations or registered parties, rather than by candidates. Why?

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

As I have stated in previous reports and in my testimony, we are having more and more trouble recruiting staff. There are fewer and fewer people being referred by the candidates. In the last election, barely one third of election staff had been referred by candidates across Canada. In Western Canada, for example, it was 2% in Alberta and 3% in British Columbia. That puts returning officers in a very difficult position because, under the current provisions, they are required to wait until the 17th day before voting day to start appointing and training the 650 employees available to them.

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

For you, it is actually a way of saving time, in the sense that they--

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Yes, exactly.

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

The idea is not to tell candidates they don't have enough staff, but rather, to give the parties and riding associations an additional opportunity to refer people to you.

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Yes, and that's the reason we refer these people. We consulted the parties about this and they seemed to be pretty much in agreement.

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

I see.

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Riding associations and political parties are permanent entities. They are able to get to work earlier than the candidates, who are often confirmed once the process is already well underway.

Noon

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

I see. Thank you.

Recommendation 1.10, dealing with registration on the Internet, interests me a lot, but it also gives me a great deal of concern. You talk about allowing “the Chief Electoral Officer to accept an appropriate mode of authentication”. What does that mean in your jargon?

Noon

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Well, it will depend on the service that is provided. First of all, if voters simply want to confirm that they are on the list, a name and address will suffice. We might also ask for the postal code. If someone wants to change his personal information—for example, if there has been a recent change of address, which reflects the majority of situations that arise now—we could apply a more stringent mode of authentication.

When we met with Committee members last June, we talked about an approach using the driver's licence number. That is not shared universally and we have it in our files. We could ask a voter, before an address change is made, that he confirm his identity using his driver's licence number.

When we discussed this issue in June, a number of you said that this was asking too much and suggested that we simply use the date of birth—information which we also have in our files. So, a voter could confirm his identity, which would be authenticated through the date of birth.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

We're in the five-minute round here, and I was giving you extra time. It wouldn't happen again.

Monsieur Albrecht.

October 7th, 2010 / noon

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.