REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to
Your committee, which was
authorized by the Senate on Monday, April 7, 2014, to examine the subject-matter
of Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to
make consequential amendments to certain Acts, introduced in the House of
Commons on February 4, 2014, in advance of the said bill coming before the
Senate, now tables an interim report.
Your committee held six meetings on
this study. In total the committee heard from 21 witnesses including the
Minister of State (Democratic Reform), the Chief Electoral Officer and the
Commissioner of Canada Elections, along with many experts, academics, political
parties and other stakeholders. The committee also received a number of written
Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act,
was introduced because it is important to protect the trust, participation, and
reliability of the electoral system.
The committee recommends as
Specifically authorize communications between the Commissioner of Canada
Elections and the Chief Electoral Officer.
2. Include a
requirement that attestations of name and address should be given to those who
seek it (the elderly, homeless, Aboriginal peoples, etc.).
3. Remove the
provision on spending during an electoral period – the part that would exempt as
an election expense the commercial value of services provided to a registered
party for the purpose of soliciting monetary contributions only from individuals
who have made at least one contribution of $20 or more to the registered party
or to one of its registered associations, nomination contestants or candidates
in the last five years.
retention of automated calling service call records to three years, from the one
year proposed in Clause 76 of the bill, and make the contracting calling service
company the repository for these records.
Elections Canada’s new, reduced role that ends democracy promotion so it will
not affect Elections Canada’s working relationship with Student Vote, a project
of CIVIX, or other electoral educational programs in elementary and high
Elections Canada to place photographs of candidates on ballots, to address
concerns of people who have trouble reading.
Elections Canada to provide information to those with vision loss, such as
information about the availability of braille ballots, and to conduct a pilot
project in the use of specialized voting kiosks, described to the committee by
the CNIB witness.
Elections Canada to consider allowing verified electronic correspondence as a
means of identification at polling stations.
9. Both the
Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections should
expressly be able to inform the public of problems they uncover in the electoral
Attached, as an
appendix to the committee’s interim report, is a minority opinion from the
Honourable Senators George Baker, P.C., Serge Joyal, P.C. and Wilfred P. Moore.
OPINION FROM THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
GEORGE BAKER, P.C., SERGE JOYAL, P.C. and WILFRED P. MOORE
the Sixth Report of the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
(Subject-matter of Bill C-23)
1. Constitutionality of the Bill
Bill C-23 lacks sufficient
safeguards to ensure that voters who are qualified to vote are not
disenfranchised. The bill, therefore, is clearly unconstitutional
in that it violates the right to vote set out in
section 3 of the Charter and cannot be saved by section 1.
2. Voter Information Cards
The Chief Electoral Officer’s
authority to authorize the voter information card as a valid piece of
identification as one of the alternatives to a government-issued piece of photo
identification should be restored. (Clause 48(3) amending section 143(2.1))
The clauses of the bill which
repeal the provisions that enable a voter without the prescribed pieces of
identification to vote, or to register to vote, should be struck from the bill.
(Subclauses 48(1) and (2), clauses 49, 51 and 52, subclauses 53(1), (3)
and (5) and clause 54)
4. Commissioner of Canada
Elections’ Power to Seek Court Order to Compel Witnesses to Provide Evidence
The bill should grant the
Commissioner of Canada Elections the power to apply to a court for an order to
compel witnesses to provide evidence to assist in an investigation of a
violation of the Canada Elections Act.
5. Chief Electoral Officer’s
Mandate to Communicate with the Public
The broad mandate that the Chief
Electoral Officer currently has under section 18 of the Canada Elections Act
to provide information to the public relating to Canada’s electoral process, the
democratic right to vote and how to be a candidate, should be restored. Clause 7
of the bill should, therefore, be struck from the bill.
6. Treasury Board Approval to
Pay Remuneration for Temporary Employees with Electoral Expertise
Clause 10, amending section 20(1),
should be amended to strike out the requirement that the Treasury Board approve
the remuneration and expenses of persons with technical or specialized knowledge
engaged on a temporary basis by the Chief Electoral Officer.
7. Inability of Commissioner of
Canada Elections to disclose any information relating to investigations
Clause 108 of the bill should be
amended by striking out new section 510.1, which prevents the Commissioner of
Canada Elections from disclosing any information relating to an investigation,
except under certain limited circumstances.