First, thank you very much for reminding me of those wonderful times that I had with the Forum for Young Canadians. I enjoyed each one of those opportunities, and it's good to be reminded.
Second, with respect to the present mandate, Mr. Mayrand explained this morning just what he can do, so I won't elaborate on that. You know how that came about. The curtailment of the role of Elections Canada and the chief electoral officer in reaching out to the actual electorate occurred only two years ago.
When I was chief electoral officer, Elections Canada both perpetuated and built upon what my predecessor had done when he was advertising about the right to vote and how to go about it, and participating in forums where he could effectively propagate this importance.
What is important for young people is to understand not how we do it—that's essential—but to understand what democracy is about and why this is so important to them and their future. That's missing in a lot of cases. If we succeed in translating that to them, we will succeed a lot.
I think it was in 1997 that Parliament put it in the statute that the Chief Electoral Officer may reach out particularly to groups that are significantly disadvantaged, blah, blah, blah, about this. That's when we embarked upon particular missions with minority groups and did more intensive things with the people who were disadvantaged because of their inability to reach the polls, people with what we consider disabilities, and aboriginal Canadians.
We met with these groups to find out how to reach out to their membership. We didn't try to reach out directly. What we found to be particularly useful, by the way, when we reached out to the aboriginal groups, was to have them transmit the message. This occurred particularly in the 2004 election, when we got the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as other leaders, to mount campaigns with Elections Canada to speak to the people.
This is what we set out to do, and as I understand it now, this is no longer possible under the present mandate.