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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 15 - Evidence, November 8, 2001


OTTAWA, Thursday, November 8, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs met this day at 11:00 a.m. to review the regulation proposed by the Chief Electoral Officer.

Senator Lorna Milne (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, I see a quorum. We are meeting to consider the regulation proposed by the Chief Electoral Officer. We have before us Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the Chief Electoral Officer. We also have Diane Davidson, Chief Legal Officer, and Holly McManus, Deputy Chief Legal Officer.

Please proceed with your presentation.

[Translation]

Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Canada: Thank you, Madam Chair. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss with you the Canada Elections Act as Adapted for the Purposes of a Referendum, also known as the Referendum Regulation, and to answer any questions that the members of the committee might like to ask.

I am accompanied today by Diane Davidson, Chief Legal Officer, and Holly McManus, Assistant Chief Legal Officer.

The Referendum Act allows the Governor in Council to proclaim a referendum to consult the Canadian electorate on any matter relating to the Canadian Constitution.

The Referendum Act states that the Chief Electoral Officer may, by regulation, adapt the Canada Elections Act to apply it in respect of a referendum. This is what we have done through the proposed regulation.

Your committee has been designated to study the proposed regulation. I am pleased to be here, not only to answer your questions, but also to take note of any recommendation you might have. No doubt you have noticed that each time I appear before your committee, you make a number of observations and I always return to inform you of any follow-up action I may have taken.

The process that we followed, as required by the Referendum Act, was to adapt the Canada Elections Act in order to make it compatible with a referendum process. The purpose is to enable the referendum process to function within a framework that is, as much as possible, identical to that of an election.

An adaptation is required rather than a complete rewriting of the Canada Elections Act because that Act already covers some of the elements essential to holding an election, such as the list of electors and the voting procedure, elements that are equally indispensable for the conduct of a referendum.

Obviously, in a referendum, there are no candidates, no political parties as such and no third party election advertising. There are, however, one or more referendum questions. There are also referendum committees. These must register with the Chief Electoral Officer if they intend to spend more than $5,000 during the referendum period. The elements particular to a referendum had to be taken into account in the adaptation.

[English]

The first referendum regulation was made in 1992, following the adoption of the Referendum Act. It was under this legislation that the 1992 referendum was held. The Canada Elections Act was subsequently amended in 1993 by Bill C-114, and in 1996 byBill C-63.

After the adoption of each of these bills, the affected portions of the Canada Elections Act in the referendum regulation were amended. In 1998 and in 1999, minor amendments of a terminological nature were made to the Canada Elections Act that did not affect the application of the regulation. No further adaptation was made at that time.

In addition, Bill C-2 was on the verge of being adopted and was to introduce a completely new Canada Elections Act. This new Canada Elections Act, including the changes introduced by the adoption of Bill C-23, came into force on September 1, 2000. The general election of November 27th, 2000, was conducted under this legislation shortly thereafter. It monopolized all of our efforts. In addition, we learned by that Bill C-9 was in the works. For these reasons, the process leading to the adoption of referendum regulation was delayed until now. Bill C-9 has since been adopted. It dealt with technical amendments to the Canada Elections Act, and I appear before your committee to discuss that matter. The changes that it introduced are part of the proposed referendum regulation that honourable senators now have.

Schedule 2 of the current Referendum Act lists the provisions of the Canada Elections Act not applicable in respect of a referendum. The Canada Elections Act has, however, been amended several times since 1992, when schedule 2 was adopted.

Schedule 2, therefore, no longer correctly indicates the numbers of the provisions of the Canada Elections Act that Parliament had intended to exclude from the referendum process. In order to give effect to the legislators' intention when adapting the Canada Elections Act for the purposes of a referendum the references were considered ambulatory, in that they incorporate the amendments made to the Canada Elections Act. It was necessary to establish a concordance between the provisions of the old and the new versions of the Canada Elections Act.

This is the approach that was used in the past. In 1996, we updated schedule 2, which dated from 1992. Parliament recognized this approach by adopting schedule 2 that same year. Consequently, we updated schedule 2 for the purposes of the consolidation that we must publish at this time.

In order to meet operational requirements we, in rare instances, had to comply with the legislators' intent by doing more than a simple concordance. Subsection 227(3) of the Canada Elections Act, for example, pertains to the way a candidate's name is indicated on a special ballot. In a referendum there are no candidates. Yet this provision is not included in schedule 2. We had no choice but to make this provision non-applicable, and that is the kind of example we are talking about.

[Translation]

Last October 30, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I thought I detected a certain amount of unease among MPs with the idea that legislation such as the Canada Elections Act as Adapted for the Purposes of a Referendum was the product of the work of an officer of Parliament, rather than a legislator. I also indicated that I preferred this responsibility to be incumbent on the legislator in the future, although I am of the opinion that the process leading to the adoption of the proposed referendum regulation that you have in your hands should be continued.

As agreed, I will give the committee all the time it needs to finish its examination of the proposed referendum regulation. In conclusion, I hope that you find these comments useful. My colleagues and I will be happy to answer your questions. If committee members wish, later we could discuss the electoral boundaries readjustment process.

Senator Beaudoin: You stated that Members were somewhat uneasy with the idea that the adaptation of the Referendum Regulation was the product of the work of an officer of Parliament and not of the legislator. The Senate also has some concerns about this. We feel that too much legislation is enacted by way of regulations. Ideally, fundamental questions should be dealt with by Parliament. That is what is important. Am I to understand that the regulation we will be considering today is in fact duly authorized by the Canada Elections Act?

Mr. Kingsley: It is authorized by the 1992 Canada Elections Act under which the 1992 referendum was held. The Chief Electoral Officer is authorized to adapt the Canada Elections Act to apply it in respect of a referendum.

Senator Beaudoin: That is spelled out in the legislation?

Mr. Kingsley: Yes, it is in the Referendum Act which contains only 40 sections. If I am not mistaken, the Elections Act contains over 500 provisions. To avoid having to rewrite the entire elections legislation and to incorporate it directly into the Referendum Act, in 1992, the legislator adopted the Referendum Act, a separate piece of legislation containing only 40 provisions. This act states that the Chief Electoral Officer shall adapt the Canada Elections Act to apply it in respect of a referendum.

[English]

Senator Beaudoin: Yes, it is legal, but it is quite a power that is delegated.

Mr. Kingsley: I did not ask for the power, it was imposed upon me.

Senator Beaudoin: You have the right to adapt the Canada Elections Act to a referendum. You may do what you want providing you follow the Elections Act.

Mr. Kingsley: I must follow the Canada Elections Act and I must also submit it to the committee of the House and the committee of the Senate. This is what I have been doing since the Referendum Act came into being in 1992. Therefore, the procedure is not exceptional.

Senator Beaudoin: Once this regulation is adopted will you consider a special statute later on?

Mr. Kingsley: In the past, the committee deliberated but did not agree to pass legislation. The committee received advice from its legal advisers and formulated comments on how to improve that regulation, which it then submitted to my office. We analyzed the comments and incorporated them to the extent that it was possible. I wrote back to the committee informing them what I had been able to do with their comments. I expect that this procedure will be followed this time as well.

The Chairman: Is that not an unusual power that you have? Is there any other officer of Parliament that can operate in this way? You are, in effect, making the law of the land without passage of an act of Parliament.

Mr. Kingsley: It is a most unusual power. I accepted it at the time because the legislator wanted me to accept it. I did not seek it. I think there are ways that it can be done differently in the future. I know that when people have power they usually wish to retain it. That is not true in this case. I do not wish to retain this authority. That may also make me a very exceptional person, because people usually hang on to the power they have. It is unique at the federal level. It has been unique since 1992.

Research indicates that this is how Parliament operated in 1918 regarding the possibility of referendum on prohibition. This is the way Parliament operated in 1942 regarding the referendum on conscription. I believe that that is how the pattern was set.

Initially, there was not going to be any reference to a committee of the House or the Senate. It was simply going to be the Chief Electoral Officer who would act. I welcome the opportunity to have to account for the regulation I take to committees of the House and the Senate. That is why that section is included.

The Chairman: I appreciate that you have appeared before us and I appreciate that the Senate gave us a mandate to do this. We are not like a House of Commons committee that can study everything that falls within their general jurisdiction. We need a specific mandate from the Senate. Had we not received that, this would have slipped by in those seven days, which is the minimum period of time you have.

With regard to that minimum period of time, this committee has been extremely busy with a controversial bill. This could have happened during the summer recess when Parliament was not sitting. Should there not be a provision in the act that requires this to be tabled when Parliament is sitting?

Mr. Kingsley: Amendments should be considered to require the adaptation to be the object of the approval of Parliament rather than the approval of the Chief Electoral Officer. That would obviate the problem you have just mentioned.

I assure you that I would not take such a regulation without first obtaining comments from and the agreement of the House and the Senate. However, if there were some kind of a political crisis and there was a need to adapt, the Chief Electoral Officer, whoever he or she may be, might well proceed to take the regulation without a response from the Senate or the House.

[Translation]

Senator Rivest: Mr. Kingsley, is there any link between the Clarity Act and the Referendum Act? Does the Clarity Act have any regulatory authority?

Mr. Kingsley: In response to your first question, there is no connection between the Clarity Act and the Referendum Act.

Senator Rivest: The Canada question may not be clear.

Senator Fraser: Unless it deals with the secession of a province.

Mr. Kingsley: I do not think I need to respond to that comment. As for the second question, namely if someone, the Governor in Council, for example, has regulatory authority over the Clarity Act, I cannot answer that.

Senator Rivest: Is the Chief Electoral Officer responsible for administering the Clarity Act?

Mr. Kingsley: No.

[English]

Senator Fraser: I am familiar with the Clarity Bill and my recollection is 99.9 per cent certain that there is no regulatory element to that bill.

Senator Joyal: May I have the one-tenth per cent that is missing from Senator Fraser?

[Translation]

Mr. Kingsley, further to your analysis, I believe you published a paper highlighting the differences between Quebec's referendum legislation and your consolidation of the federal Referendum Act. I recall seeing a document in which you highlighted the five or six major differences between these two acts.

Briefly, could you tell us which chapters in your table of provisions are affected by this comparative chart?

Mr. Kingsley: I believe you are referring to the compendium published on the Elections Canada website. The compendium is a comparative analysis of electoral and referendum legislation at the federal and provincial levels. This analysis is an ongoing process.

To answer your second question, namely if there are differences in the acts which are affected by the proposed regulation, I would have to take a closer look at this because I have not done an analysis. Nevertheless, I will venture a response. Quebec's referendum legislation in no way affects the federal Referendum Act.

Senator Joyal: I agree.

Mr. Kingsley: The differences reflected in the regulation have to do with the electoral process, for example, how polls are organized and how the enumeration is done. These are the types of differences encountered.

Thus, the fundamental differences between the two referendum acts would lie in the text of the legislation as such, and not in the regulation. The differences have to do with the striking of committees and with the calculation of the maximum amounts that federal committees can spend.

There are only two umbrella committees in Quebec: theYES committee and the NO committee, whereas at the federal level, there is no limit on the number of committees that may be formed. These committees must register if they intend to spend more than $5,000. The spending ceiling is determined on the basis of a per capita calculation.

At the federal level, the committee informs us of the place in which it intends to hold its meetings. The electoral district is then determined, and the maximum expenditures of the committee is established in accordance with a per capita calculation.

There is another major difference between the two referendum acts. At the federal level, three hours of broadcasting time are made available at no cost to registered referendum committees. This broadcasting time is allocated by the broadcasting arbitrator who is appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer.

There is no such provision in Quebec's referendum legislation because a province cannot impose any kind of broadcasting restrictions. Broadcasting falls under federal jurisdiction. These are the major differences between the two referendum acts.

As for the regulations, they pertain solely to the process of holding a vote, for example, how polls are organized. The federal electoral district continues to be in charge of organizing matters and polling officers continue to oversee the voting in the referendum. The federal electoral machine is still the same. However, the process is different in Quebec.

Senator Joyal: Then you see no major differences between your proposed regulation, which mainly has to do with the conduct of a referendum and broadcasting, and Quebec's referendum legislation, aside from the issue of free broadcasting time, as you mentioned.

Mr. Kinsley: I do not believe there are any other differences.

Senator Joyal: Did you not state that in future, you would prefer to see the federal Referendum Act apply in all provinces in the event of a national referendum?

Mr. Kingsley: I was asked the following question: Would things have been different if the federal referendum had been a national referendum? I answered that in terms of advertising, there were some differences. The regulations respecting referen dum committees were published across the country. Of course, federal advertising was restricted in Quebec. However, I had a duty to reach communities in Ontario and New Brunswick, provinces which border Quebec, since Quebeckers had access to this information. The reverse was also true. Some advertising by the Quebec media reached people living in these border provinces.

The possibility that people might be confused was real. Enumeration dates were different, given the different electoral processes. The Haig case even made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Haig represented himself in this matter. Some 10,000 Canadian citizens found themselves in a similar situation, that is they had been Canadian citizens for at least six months, but Quebec residents for fewer than six months. Quebec's referendum regulations stipulated that a person must have been domiciled in Quebec for at least six months prior to the referendum date in order to be entitled to vote. There is no such provision in the federal referendum legislation. The case came before the courts. I had made preparations for an advertising campaign should the court find that these persons were in fact entitled to vote. The advertisements would instruct people that if the court ruled in their favour, they should register to vote directly through the newspapers. Ultimately, the court did rule in favour of the Chief Electoral Officer. These persons were entitled to vote neither under the federal referendum legislation nor under Quebec's referendum legislation. I was obliged to draft a regulation respecting the dissemination of Quebec's referendum results across Canada, to ensure that the outcome of voting in western Canada was not affected.

I would not have been forced into this situation had the provisions of the federal Referendum Act applied. In essence, these are the main problems we faced.

Senator Joyal: Immigration is on the rise in Canada, particularly in Quebec. According to a report that I read last week, immigration is expected to continue to increase in the next few years. The problem illustrated by the Haig case is not likely to go away. Have other solutions been considered, for example, amending either the federal or provincial legislation? After all, Canadian citizens are being denied their right to vote. It is somewhat incongruous that persons who have acquired the rights associated with citizenship, namely the right to vote and to move freely within Canada, rights which are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, cannot exercise the most fundamental of all citizenship rights, namely the right to vote in elections or referendums. Do you see any other way of resolving this problem?

Mr. Kingsley: I agree, it is very incongruous. I tried to find some provision in the federal act which would have allowed these individuals to vote, but there was none. That is the reason why the matter had to be brought before the courts. What is needed is an amendment to either the federal or provincial legislation, or a truly national referendum. Otherwise, some legal changes are warranted. Had I been able to find another legally acceptable solution which would not have entailed violating the legislation that I am responsible for administering, then I would have done so. I had hoped the court would ultimately rule against me.

[English]

Senator Joyal: We might want to consider recommendations.

The Chairman: I think we will have recommendations, Senator Joyal. When we come back after the break, we will attempt to have a meeting to deal with some of these very serious issues.

Senator Moore: It is nice that you do not want to hold on to your power. This is so fundamental to the governance of our country that it should be in legislation, not in regulation. Is it intended that there be a law rather than this staying in regulation?

Mr. Kingsley: Under our system, it is probably better if it is contained in a law. If it is in a regulation then it should be one that is subject to the authority of both the Senate and the House of Commons.

Senator Moore: Exactly.

Mr. Kingsley: I do not think it can be only by Governor in Council. The Canada Elections Act does not allow the Governor in Council to make a regulation. There are specific reasons for that. The Referendum Act does not allow that either. I think it should revert. That is why I am saying that the Chief Electoral Officer should be, perhaps, included in the process but not as the decision-maker.

Senator Moore: That may be one of the recommendations that you are considering?

The Chairman: Yes.

Senator Fraser: Are you saying that what is being changed here is just the elements of the Canada Elections Act that must be changed because they do not match referendum circumstances?

What we would have here are referendum regulations that mirror the Canada Elections Act except where they refer to candidates. They are essentially technical things like that with no change in substance.

Mr. Kingsley: That is correct. That is what we are attempting to do. This is our best effort, and in the past this committee has looked at them and made comments that I have appreciated.

It may look technical, but sometimes it turns out to be more than that. I hope that this is well understood. That is why I do not like the role that I am called upon to play here.

Senator Fraser: We are all appreciative of the fact that you do not like this role and everyone here agrees with you that this is not a role that should have been thrust upon you.

However, as we consider what would be an appropriate way to get away from it the virtue of the present system is that you do end up having referendum procedures that are close to the Elections Act procedures. If it were a separate law you might well end up with comparatively different sets of not just technical procedures but underlying principles affecting referendums and elections.

The Elections Act is already a massive piece of legislation. However, would an appropriate alternative be to fold the Referendum Act and regulations back into the Elections Act so that changes to them would mean that they would go through together? That way there would be some guarantee that parliamentarians would have a consistency of approach.

Mr. Kingsley: I think we need two statutes because the objects are different, and, while it is an important happenstance, it should be the same for Canadians to vote in a referendum and an election insofar as the machinery and procedures are concerned.

The honourable senator has raised an interesting point. If the practicalities of Bill C-2 were being reviewed at the same time as the Referendum Act was going through, I think it would have created a different kind of debate. Therefore, the issue is how you reconcile all of that with the fact that Parliament should pass laws. Bill C-2 was a complex piece of legislation because it redid the whole Elections Act from top to bottom. That would have meant that the Referendum Act would have been redone top to bottom. That would have meant that there might have been discussion relating to the Referendum Act that was quite substantial. Should we have practically unlimited amounts of spending? What should be the allocation of free broadcast time? This is part and parcel of the Referendum Act. Yet the main thrust is to change the Canada Elections Act. It will be up to Parliament to decide how it wants to handle that and to governments how they wish to propose legislation to Parliament.

I see the need for two pieces of legislation because they are separate issues and they generate different discussion when we get into the substance.

Senator Fraser: They are two different pieces of legislation and we have discussed the technical reasons for their difference. What are the core differences between elections and referendums? This probably sounds like a foolish question, but I would like to have your response to it on record.

Mr. Kingsley: I do not fully understand your question.

Senator Fraser: Apart from general complexity and volumi nous pieces of work, what are the main differences between a referendum and an election that lead you to say we need two statutes?

I understand the technical differences: No candidates, only two sides versus many sides. Beyond that, are there more profound philosophical differences between what an election is supposed to do and what a referendum is supposed to do that lead you to say we really do need two statutes?

Mr. Kingsley: The basic purpose of a referendum under the statute is that it must deal with a constitutional question. Elections do not necessarily have to deal with constitutional questions. That is one fundamental difference. There is also a section of the Referendum Act that says a referendum cannot be held at the same time as an election. There is clear indication there that legislators saw specific differences between these two statutes.

The Chairman: One way of getting around this problem, rather than having one enormous act is to have two acts and get away from your problem with ambulatory references. Every time there is a change in one act or the other there would be consequential amendments included in that act to the other one. Those consequential amendments would actually agree with what is present in both acts.

Mr. Kingsley: I will suggest to you something that I have not discussed with anyone, so I am sure there will be comments after. One can attempt to identify those sections of the Canada Elections Act that would apply to both processes. When they are changed for an election they are automatically changed for a referendum, and there would be something in the Referendum Act that says everything in that section is automatically adapted. I do not know if that would be feasible.

The Chairman: That may be worth looking at some time in the future, but consequential amendments are perhaps easier.

Senator Beaudoin: You convinced me right from the beginning that we need two statutes, because it may be technical but the result is substantial and different. The ideal situation is to have two different statutes. When you say that the referendum may be the first step for a constitutional amendment, a secession, or something of that nature, this is of the greatest importance and it deserves a different statute.

I have another question. Was it at Charlottetown that we had two referendums at the same time: one in Quebec and one in Canada?

Mr. Kingsley: This is what I was alluding to when I was talking about the difficulties of holding two referendums on the same question on the same day, but with different rules leading up to the process.

Senator Beaudoin: I do not see why we should not have a national referendum, and with only one statute that is the federal one. Quebec or any other province may have a different referendum for a question of its own. I agree with that. However, at the federal level we should have a Referendum Act that is applicable in the whole country. I believe that is a reason to have two statutes.

The Chairman: I will direct our parliamentary researchers to look into this and to come up with some suggestions pertaining to the issues that Mr. Kingsley has brought before us. We will return to this issue later on this fall.

I believe that Mr. Kingsley also has something more he would like to say to us today.

Mr. Kingsley: Madam Chair, it have information to give you concerning the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the readjustment of the federal electoral boundaries scheduled to begin on March 12, 2002.

On May 23 of this year, I wrote to all members of Parliament and Senators to inform them of the upcoming redistribution. I also spoke about this in my recent appearance before this committee.

Representation in the House of Commons is readjusted after each decennial census to reflect changes and movements in Canada's population in accordance with the Constitution Act, 1867, and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

The readjustment of the federal electoral district boundaries begins when the Chief Statistician prepares and sends the certified census return to the minister designated for the purposes of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and to the Chief Electoral Officer.

The Chief Statistician has confirmed that the census will be available on March 12, 2002. Ten independent commissions readjust the federal electoral boundaries. I expect that the10 federal electoral boundaries commissions will be established by March 12, 2002.

When the last redistribution was conducted, there were11 commissions: there was one for the two electoral districts in the Northwest Territories before the creation of Nunavut. Now that the Northwest Territories and Nunavut constitute one electoral district each, electoral boundaries commissions are not required for them. The same continues to apply to Yukon, which is one riding.

Under the provisions of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, Elections Canada provides a variety of professional, technical and administrative services to those commissions. All amounts required for the payments of salaries and other expenses under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act are determined by the Chief Electoral Officer and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund under the Chief Electoral Officer's statutory authority.

In preparation for the upcoming redistribution, my office is putting in place the infrastructure to ensure that Statistics Canada and Natural Resources Canada will assist us during redistribution by certifying the population data and verifying the boundary descriptions as is required by law.

The forecast budget for the upcoming redistribution is approximately $10 million. This covers all expenditures incurred by the commissions, as well as those incurred by Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Elections Canada.

I am also sharing information with Elections Ontario, as this will be the first readjustment of federal electoral boundaries since the electoral boundaries in the Province of Ontario were aligned with federal electoral district boundaries.

The Chief Justices of all provinces were contacted last March, and again last month, and have been asked to identify a judge to sit as chair of the commission for their respective province to meet the March 12 target date. I also took the opportunity on both occasions to provide them with information on the redistribution process and the projected schedule for the work of the chair of the commission.

The Speaker of the House of Commons has been written to for the purposes of appointing the two other members of each commission. I have been informed that he has received my two letters.

Preparations have begun to bring commission members and commission secretaries to a three-day conference here in Ottawa. This is to start on March 13. Guest speakers and academics will also be invited to address the concept of Community of Interest.

We will also provide advice to the commissions concerning the names of electoral districts that meet the requirements set by the Geographic Names Board of Canada in order to avoid future requests for name changes that could become very expensive to implement and are sometimes confusing to the public.

[Translation]

For the first time, a web module entitled Federal Representa tion 2004, accessible through the Elections Canada website at www.elections.ca is being developed and will be available on March 12, 2002 for those who would like information on the process or to communicate with each of the ten commissions electronically.

For each provinces, we will publish on the web module detailed maps showing the electoral district boundaries. In order to clearly illustrate the modifications at each step of the redistribution process, the user will have the choice to superim pose any two of the following: the current boundaries, the proposed boundaries, the boundaries from the commission's report and the new boundaries adopted.

The development of a redistributing tool which will use census and geography data to electronically and interactively produce boundary scenarios will begin shortly. That of course will be used by the commissions in their work.

A communications plan is being prepared to identify strategies to inform the public on the process and encourage the participation of all segments of our society, including aboriginal and ethnocultural communities.

In addition, there could be as many as five provincial redistributions taking place during the life of the readjustment of the federal electoral boundaries. As a result, our key messages will have to be appropriately directed to avoid public confusion.

I would like to bring to your attention a few key dates from the projected schedule for redistribution.

Firstly, the Chief Electoral Officer will calculate the number of seats allocated to each province.

Secondly, each commission will consider a number of scenarios to divide the province into the number of seats allocated to that province and then publish its proposal.

Then, the commissions will hold public hearings between July and October 2002. The commissions will then draft their report which will be tabled in the House of Commons between July 2002 and March 2003.

At this point, members of the House of Commons will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed ridings through the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This is expected to take place between September 2002 and April 2003.

The commissions will then consider the objections raised by the members of the House of Commons and will subsequently issue their final report all between October 2002 and June 2003. You must understand that the commissions make an independent ruling which may or may not be based on the members' observations.

The timeframes reflect the fact that the commissions' reports are tabled in a staggered fashion, based on the workload of each province. Less populated provinces require less time than Ontario, Quebec or British Colombia.

Finally, a representation order would be proclaimed by June 30, 2003, barring delays, and would come into force with the first dissolution of Parliament to occur at least one year after the proclamation. Therefore, any federal general election called after June 30, 2004 would be conducted using the boundaries specified under the new representation order.

This one-year delay would give political parties, prospective candidates and Elections Canada time to adapt to the new electoral boundaries. This is a key year.

I am pleased to provide you today with a copy of the projected schedule. We would also be happy to answer questions you might have about federal redistributions. However, I would first like to introduce to you Carol Lesage, who is Director of Operations at Elections Canada. She will also be happy to field your questions.

[English]

The Chairman: Mr. Kingsley, thank you very much. We would be delighted to be able to ask questions, but I allowed you to make this presentation for the interest of the members. We do not have a mandate to report on this or to question you about it. Perhaps the committee members would question you privately afterwards. We cannot do so during the committee.

That is one of the difficulties with Senate committees: They can only operate within their mandate and I have stretched that mandate quite a bit today.

Senator Fraser: You can circulate among the committee members the documents that the witness has chosen to provide?

The Chairman: Absolutely. We can have before us everything that is here. We will take great interest in them, I assure you. We will have you back and grill you on the proposed new riding boundaries, when you report on the changes to the legislation for elections.

Mr. Kingsley: On November 27 you will receive a copy of my report on changes to the Canada Elections Act. Should your committee obtain a mandate from the Senate concerning the matter of redistribution, I will be ready to appear before you to pursue the topic to the entire satisfaction of honourable senators.

The Chairman: We appreciate that very much.

Senator Beaudoin, you can talk to me but not to the Chief Electoral Officer.

Senator Beaudoin: It is true that we cannot act if we do not have a mandate, but under the Constitution, every ten years we must go back to the question of the electoral regime in Canada. I understand that this is related to that.

The Chairman: This arises out of the 2001 census. I encourage members of the committee to meet with the electoral officer if they wish.

The committee adjourned.