Evidence of meeting #30 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was elections.

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 Directorate, Elections Canada

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

No.

I would completely agree with you when you say that one is one too many. We absolutely agree that if it's done deliberately, or even non-deliberately—if it's an accident—that is unacceptable.

But I guess what I'm trying to get from you—and you've stated it—is that we can still have a high degree of confidence that our electoral system in Canada is among the best in the world.

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Yes, and we'll make sure it remains so—absolutely.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Right.

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

Again, in terms of error, there's one thing I can assure every Canadian and the committee of: that calls made on behalf of Elections Canada are not errors. I'm sorry, but this is not error. This is a deliberate attempt—

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Yes, and I—

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

—to thwart the right of an elector.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

I would agree with you there, but I guess what I'm referring to is that if ridings are given incorrect data and are responding to that data, and if Canadians are responding to that data and going to the wrong polling stations as a result of incorrect data.... Simply put, again, if there's one error, there's one too many. But I think all parties would agree that if it's a deliberate act, we'd absolutely want to get to the bottom of that, and we do.

That's not what I'm saying. I guess what I would ask you--

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Joe Preston

Thank you very much, Mr. Zimmer. I know that you would ask, but your time is up.

I have Mr. Hawn next on the list, but I know that Mr. Lukiwski wants a piece of it, Mr. Hawn. So you two work out sharing arrangements, will you?

March 29th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Well, he's had a couple of turns, so I'll go first. I'll save us some time.

Mr. Mayrand, thank you so much for being here.

I just want to repeat something you've said, because it's my biggest concern, frankly, in all of this. You said:

I find it troubling to hear sometimes sweeping and vague allegations of irregularities being made public many months after the election and not supported by specific facts. In some cases, the complaints are made to the media without any information being forwarded to Elections Canada. Such allegations cannot be verified, and merely undermine the trust of Canadians.

That's my biggest personal concern in all of this. It's that this circus—and it's a circus—is undermining, notwithstanding the legitimacy of the processes that need to be followed to get to the bottom of it, and nobody argues with that.... But this whole process, this circus aspect of this process, has served to do nothing but unfortunately degrade the trust of Canadians in our system. I've spent some time in Afghanistan, and more recently in Haiti, and I agree with you that our system is a model.

I'll ask one question first and then another one if I have time. Do you know of previous Canadian elections where we have had such a spate of late complaints coming out so many months after an election?

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

I'm not personally aware of that. We would have to do some research on that.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Does either of your colleagues have any knowledge of that?

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

No. And they have lots of experience.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

I've been involved in only four elections, and some here have been involved in many more, but this is the first time I can recall that we've had that.

12:05 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada

Marc Mayrand

We would have to go way back in time.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Edmonton Centre, AB

Looking forward, I would say technology is a two-edged sword. Technology is great, but if it's used for wrongful purposes by the wrong people obviously it can undermine the process.

What would be your quick view on things like suggestions that we should go to online voting, and things like those kinds of technological—I won't call them advances—changes? What would be your view of the risk or reward of some of those things?