This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to establish spending limits for third parties and political parties during a defined period before the election period of a general election held on a day fixed under that Act. It also establishes measures to increase transparency regarding the participation of third parties in the electoral process. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment
(a) adds reporting requirements for third parties engaging in partisan activities, partisan advertising, and election surveys to the reporting requirements for third parties engaging in election advertising;
(b) creates an obligation for third parties to open a separate bank account for expenses related to the matters referred to in paragraph (a); and
(c) creates an obligation for political parties and third parties to identify themselves in partisan advertising during the defined period before the election period.
The enactment also amends the Act to implement measures to reduce barriers to participation and increase accessibility. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment
(a) establishes a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens 14 to 17 years of age may consent to be included;
(b) broadens the application of accommodation measures to all persons with a disability, irrespective of its nature;
(c) creates a financial incentive for registered parties and candidates to take steps to accommodate persons with a disability during an election period;
(d) amends some of the rules regarding the treatment of candidates’ expenses, including the rules related to childcare expenses, expenses related to the care of a person with a disability and litigation expenses;
(e) amends the rules regarding the treatment of nomination contestants’ and leadership contestants’ litigation expenses and personal expenses;
(f) allows Canadian Forces electors access to several methods of voting, while also adopting measures to ensure the integrity of the vote;
(g) removes limitations on public education and information activities conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer;
(h) removes 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; and
(i) extends voting hours on advance polling days.
The enactment also amends the Act to modernize voting services, facilitate enforcement and improve various aspects of the administration of elections and of political financing. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment
(a) removes the assignment of specific responsibilities set out in the Act to specific election officers by creating a generic category of election officer to whom all those responsibilities may be assigned;
(b) limits election periods to a maximum of 50 days;
(c) removes administrative barriers in order to facilitate the hiring of election officers;
(d) authorizes the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with information about permanent residents and foreign nationals for the purpose of updating the Register of Electors;
(e) removes the prohibition on the Chief Electoral Officer authorizing the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a “voter information card”) as identification;
(f) replaces, in the context of voter identification, the option of attestation for residence with an option of vouching for identity and residence;
(g) removes the requirement for electors’ signatures during advance polls, changes procedures for the closing of advance polls and allows for counting ballots from advance polls one hour before the regular polls close;
(h) replaces the right or obligation to take an oath with a right or obligation to make a solemn declaration, and streamlines the various declarations that electors may have the right or obligation to make under specific circumstances;
(i) relocates the Commissioner of Canada Elections to within the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, and provides that the Commissioner is to be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, for a non-renewable term of 10 years;
(j) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties for contraventions of provisions of Parts 16,17 and 18 of the Act and certain other provisions of the Act;
(k) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the authority to lay charges;
(l) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the power to apply for a court order requiring testimony or a written return;
(m) clarifies offences relating to
(i) the publishing of false statements,
(ii) participation by non-Canadians in elections, including inducing electors to vote or refrain from voting, and
(iii) impersonation; and
(n) implements a number of measures to harmonize and streamline political financing monitoring and reporting.
The enactment also amends the Act to provide for certain requirements with regard to the protection of personal information for registered parties, eligible parties and political parties that are applying to become registered parties, including the obligation for the party to adopt a policy for the protection of personal information and to publish it on its Internet site.
The enactment also amends the Parliament of Canada Act to prevent the calling of a by-election when a vacancy in the House of Commons occurs within nine months before the day fixed for a general election under the Canada Elections Act.
It also amends the Public Service Employment Act to clarify that the maximum period of employment of casual workers in the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer — 165 working days in one calendar year — applies to those who are appointed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Finally, the enactment contains transitional provisions, makes consequential amendments to other Acts and repeals the Special Voting Rules.