Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It's a pleasure to be back just a little over a month from the last time I was here. It's good to see all of you. I'm looking forward to this conversation as well.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to the committee again. I'm pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you today, and I'm happy to contribute to your proceedings to the best of my ability.
Yesterday, we celebrated International Women's Day. I was very proud to have been invited to speak on March 7 at the Daughters of the Vote gala. The Equal Voice organization held the event to highlight the significance of the day. The Daughters of the Vote initiative brought young women aged 18 to 23 to Parliament. They came from each of our 338 federal electoral districts to represent their community and share their vision for Canada. Yesterday, these young women had the opportunity to meet with their MP and sit at their MP's place in the House of Commons.
It was inspiring to see the House full of young women and to look into what the future holds. All of us who have the privilege to serve also have the duty to support and encourage young Canadians to engage in our democracy. In particular, this committee has the unique opportunity to reflect on how to ensure that all Canadians are best prepared and able to participate in civic life. Your study of the CEO report and its recommendations positions you as stewards and champions of the franchise. The Daughters of the Vote who are in Ottawa today, and all Canadians, are counting on your reflections.
This is why I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, specifically, for your work so far on the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations report. I read with interest your interim report, which was tabled on Monday. I am going to spend more time reviewing it and reflecting on your recommendations as the government considers its response.
I am very happy to see that you have reached a consensus on the key recommendations that are the core of the Chief Electoral Officer's proposed voting services modernization efforts. In addition, you have collectively supported a range of other recommendations, including recommendations to improve the delivery of voting services to non-resident Canadians and enhanced information-sharing authorities to improve the quality of the national register of electors, the latter being something that may come before you for consideration as part of Bill C-33. These are important recommendations that will improve our electoral process.
There was also consensus on many of the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations related to ensuring an accessible electoral system for electors and candidates with disabilities. Enhancing inclusion as a defining value of our democracy stands high among my priorities for the coming months and years.
I look forward to your upcoming work on the recommendations set out in the Chief Electoral Officer's report.
I'll highlight a few, I hope to hear your thoughts on the issue of the length of the election period and on the polling day, recommendations A21 and A22. These recommendations have implications for the political financing regime and the participation of Canadians in the voting process.
Recommendation A25 would address the question of partisan nominees for poll staff and promises improvements in Elections Canada's recruitment processes. In light of your support for recommendation A1, your view on this recommendation would be informative.
Recommendations A33 and A34 would provide additional tools for the Commissioner of Canada Elections. My mandate letter includes a commitment to enhance Canadians' trust in the integrity of our system, and I would value your thoughts on these recommendations.
Recommendation A39 concerns adjustments to the broadcasting arbitration regime. The way that political parties communicate with Canadians and the nature of media have changed considerably over time. These provisions have hardly been modified in recent years.
Recommendation B9 has a significant impact on gender non-conforming electors. In relation to Bill C-16, I think it warrants consideration, since equality could be ensured in all aspects of the federal government.
Recommendation B15 would affect the process in place to help electors with a disability.
Recommendations B12, B24, B18, B26, B27, and B43 are all related in different ways to the integrity of the process and Canadians' trust in that process. As trust is paramount to the success of any election and the peaceful transfer of power, I would welcome the committee's thoughtful input on these as well.
Finally, recommendation B44 raises the important issue of how we adapt to a fixed-date context for elections in a Westminster system. I would ask the committee, if you think it of merit, to reflect on how this and other recommendations are impacted, and what the challenges and opportunities are in relation to fixed-date elections in the Canadian experience.
All of these recommendations raise a variety of questions that would benefit from the expertise of this committee. They seek ways to keep our electoral laws up to date with the expectations of electors and political actors. Your considerate review of these matters is valuable.
As I noted during my last appearance, my mandate letter includes a commitment to enhance the transparency of fundraising activities. In meeting this commitment, I intend to introduce legislation that makes fundraising events public, and to require additional disclosure of who attends, and when.
We have heard Canadians' concerns in this regard, and we intend to act. I hope to introduce legislation this spring, and if referred to your committee by the House, I would very much appreciate your consideration of the bill and any recommendations you may have.
Of course, there's also Bill C-33. Your work so far on the recommendations report will well position you in considering this bill and its measures to reduce barriers to voting while enhancing the integrity of the electoral process. Bill C-33, I believe, complements the work that you are undertaking with the CEO recommendations.
The road to the 2019 election is getting ever shorter. I am committed, as I know all members of this committee are, to improving our electoral system before the next election to the benefit of all Canadians. To accomplish this goal, Canadians need us to work together. I hope to continue to receive your valuable input to inform the direction of improving our electoral process to make it accessible, efficient, and equitable for voters.
Elections Canada needs sufficient time to implement any changes made to the Canada Elections Act before the next election and would like to be election-ready well in advance of an expected writ. The more time Elections Canada has to prepare, the better.
We must also take into consideration that other legislative changes may be necessary to implement your recommendations.
The development and preparation of this bill, and the important discussions and debates in the House of Commons and Senate, shouldn't be rushed.
To give Elections Canada the time it needs, as well as to give parliamentarians the time they need, my hope would be to introduce legislation before the end of this year that would build on your hard work with respect to the Chief Electoral Officer's recommendations. It is our responsibility to take the time to get this right. It is also our responsibility to get it done. It's what Canadians expect. If the House could have your next report before the House rises for the summer, preferably by May 19, I think we would be well positioned to advance some significant reforms that would improve the electoral process for Canadians.
I am sharing my thinking with the committee because I sincerely want to work together with you. I respect this committee's independence and know the committee will set its own agenda. I hope my remarks today help provide insight to you about my thinking and perspective on the matters before this committee.
Thank you again for inviting me here today. I look forward to working with you on these important issues.