STANDING COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
AND HOUSE AFFAIRS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DE LA PROCÉDURE
ET DES AFFAIRES DE LA CHAMBRE
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, May 18, 2000
The Chairman (Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River,
Lib.)): I call the meeting to order.
Colleagues, today we are doing the estimates for the
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, referred to us
from the House. We're delighted to have with us again
Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the Chief Electoral Officer;
Janice Vézina, the director of election financing; and
Patricia Hassard, the assistant chief electoral
Welcome, Mr. Kingsley and company. I assume you will
have a statement to get us started on the agenda. If
you're ready, let's begin.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley (Chief Electoral Officer): Thank you, Mr.
Chairman. Good morning to all the members of the
committee. I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for
having introduced my two colleagues.
My last appearance before this committee on main
estimates was on April 20 of last year. We have
replied to all the questions asked at that meeting that
required follow-up. This is, by the way, a little
habit we've developed whenever we appear before a
committee. If something is incomplete in my answers or
in our answers, we follow up with written replies.
This we have done for last year.
Members of the committee are aware that the agency has
historically operated under two separate budgetary
authorities, the administrative vote and the statutory
authority. The administrative vote, or vote 20,
which is $3.1 million this year, and a related amount
of $592,000 for the employee benefits plan are the
portions of our funding that you are considering now in
committee, prior to reporting to the House.
Essentially this provides for the salaries of a core
group of our permanent employees. The budget related
to the statutory authority of the chief electoral
officer totals $29.9 million this year.
This presentation, however, deals with both the
statutory authority and the administrative vote in an
attempt to give you a clear understanding of what the
office is all about and not just the small portion that
I've reported under the administrative vote.
As part of my accountability to Parliament, I will
highlight some of our recent achievements. Then I will
say a few words about our plans and priorities for the
coming year. This should take me about ten minutes.
We conducted five by-elections in fiscal year
1999-2000. One was held in Windsor—St. Clair on April
12, 1999, at a cost of $412,000. The others were held
on November 15, 1999, in Hull—Aylmer, Mount Royal,
Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, and York West,
at an estimated cost of $1.5 million for all
In the autumn of 1999, Elections Canada, in
cooperation with UNICEF Canada, offered the first
national election for the rights of youth. This was
done under the authority provided by subsection 8(2)
of the act. Elections Canada's contribution to
this election was $230,000. 1,918 schools registered
for this vote across Canada and 187,757 students
actually voted. Family was the right that was the most
popular among Canada's youth.
With respect to electoral geography, after signing a
memorandum of understanding with the chief statistician
in 1999 to merge our geographic databases, we now
possess the most detailed and current digital national
road network in the land, as we reported to you
previously. Both StatsCan and Elections Canada use the
national geographic database for operational purposes,
with considerable cost savings to the Canadian public.
Links between addresses and the national register of
electors will greatly facilitate incorporating changes
in polling division and electoral district boundaries
into the national register of electors. This will be
especially important for the next electoral boundary
redistribution that will occur after the 2001 decennial
census. So it's coming up very soon.
Geo-referencing will also enable us to produce lists of
electors from the register for other jurisdictions with
dissimilar electoral boundaries, further enhancing our
ability to share the data on the register.
Elections Canada hosted the first worldwide meeting of
election organizations, the global electoral
organization network or GEO network conference, in
Ottawa in April of 1999, at very little cost to
Elections Canada, by the way.
Continuing our efforts to support demographic
development around the world, Elections Canada also
hosted a number of foreign delegations during the
fiscal year. For example, we recently held a
conference in Ottawa with the president/councillor of
the Instituto Federal Electoral of Mexico as
The national register of electors program is now
in place and functioning and continues to progress as
planned. The register is updated regularly with data
from federal and provincial sources as reported here.
As you may know, data from the Canada Customs and
Revenue Agency is a key source for updating the
register. Data is provided only if tax filers consent
by ticking a box on the front page of their tax return.
I'm pleased to report that for the taxation year 1998,
the consent rate improved from 80% to almost 83%, and
for the taxation year 1999 we have received statistics
for some 10 million tax filers so far, which indicates
that the consent rate will increase again to over 84%.
Canadians clearly support the National Register of
Electors program. Just as a reminder, for the business
case, we had predicated a 70% take-up rate. So beyond
84% is quite gratifying news.
A new national register of electors advisory committee
was established in 1999, providing a forum to discuss
with other jurisdictions, or stakeholders, our projects
for sharing and using register data and for plotting
the future of the register.
In terms of the business case for the national
register of electors, the annual cost of maintaining
the register was at least $700,000 lower than the
projected $5.2 million. We continue to project that we
will cut voter registration costs by some $30 million
net for the next and subsequent elections.
During the last fiscal year, national register of
electors data was used to establish a permanent
register of electors for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Elections Ontario also used national register of
electors data to establish a provincial register. Data
sharing began with the Ontario Property Assessment
Corporation in early 2000 for the forthcoming
municipal elections in Ontario. OPAC, as it is
commonly known, was provided with a register extract to
allow them to reduce the number of mail-out
enumerations. I should say it allowed them to
significantly reduce that number.
The national register of electors was used in the 1999
Ontario provincial election. The names of 7 million
electors were provided to Ontario and data received
from Ontario after their election have been used to
update the national register.
We held regular meetings of the advisory committee of
registered political parties. This has proved to be a
most useful forum for continuous improvement and
development of the electoral process within the law as
it is written and in certain instances in helping shape
what recommendations there should be to amend the law.
Now allow me to tell you about our priorities for the next 12
months. I'll be brief so we can soon go to your questions.
According to the Canada Elections Act, the amendments to the
Act come into effect six months after Royal Assent, unless I
publish a notice in the Canada Gazette at an earlier date.
Therefore, after Bill C-2 is adopted, providing it is adopted,
we will have up to six months after Royal Assent to implement the
This will be a period of intense activity, since we have to
update many manuals, forms, systems and instructional material for
candidates, political parties and election officers, review all our
communications and outreach material, and train returning officers
and some of their key staff, such as assistant returning officers
and automation coordinators. There is at least one returning
officer in each office.
As I mentioned last October, I also intend to undertake
awareness programs in a timely manner so that all interested
parties know about the provisions of the new Act.
Please note that these activities are currently not funded for
2000-2001. The preliminary estimate is approximately $6 million,
but this is not included in the estimates that we have tabled here
Elections Canada must maintain a constant state of readiness
to deliver general elections, by-elections and referendums. This is
a complex task, given that elections are not held at predetermined
dates and, except for the act of voting, all of our systems are
computerized, require updates for improvements in quality, and
advancement in applications as well as in technology. I have
declared September 1 of this year a convergence point for our plans
in preparation for the next general election.
We continue to automate the offices of our returning officers,
in areas such as payment systems, event management, event results
information and e-mail technology.
The first release of our new software, called “REVISE”, a
system for the revision of the electoral lists, is now operational,
with improvements to follow in the 2000-2001 fiscal year. The
system was used successfully for the first time at this week's
by-election in St. John's West.
Planning and pre-event preparation are not only critical for
head office operations, but are key activities at the electoral
district level as well.
In February, we asked returning officers to conduct a number
of assignments, including the identification and tentative
recruitment of key personnel, the targeting of geographic areas
where increased elector registration initiatives will be required,
and the review and adjustment of polling division boundaries and
polling sites. These activities will be completed in August 2000 at
a cost of $.5 million in 1999-2000 and $1.6 million this year.
As well, we attach a great deal of importance to training
returning officers and key members of their staff. Training
sessions are planned for August 2000 for returning officers,
assistant returning officers and automation coordinators; this
represents 903 people. The training will cover all new computer
applications and a refresher course on the major activities in the
electoral process, as well as the impact of the new legislation, if
passed, on the activities performed by returning officers. The
projected cost is $2.3 million.
In 2000-2001, we will continue to assess new sources of data
to improve the quality, coverage and currency of the register.
Based on a data assessment conducted in 1999-2000, we have recently
signed an agreement with Canada Post to use data from their
National Change of Address Program to update the register.
The voter turnout rate in the 1997 federal general election,
at 67%, was the lowest since 1925.
Elections Canada's analysis of survey data compiled in the
1997 Canadian Election Study suggests that lack of awareness of the
available voting opportunities was one of the many factors
contributing to this decline. Other research points to a decline of
interest in politics in many democracies, including our own, that
is diminishing participation in all forms of political activity.
While Elections Canada cannot assume the role of “change
agent” with respect to citizen attitudes towards politics, we are
committed to providing all electors with the information necessary
to appreciate and to participate in the electoral process. To this
end, we continue to develop an outreach program aimed at those
segments of the electorate where voter turnout has been the lowest:
namely, youth aged 18 to 24, new Canadians, Aboriginal Canadians,
persons with disabilities, people with limited mobility or
We are also exploring ways to reach out to the homeless to
inform them about the voting process and to make it easier for them
to have access to polling stations.
During the next fiscal year, we will continue to reflect
changing realities and the evolving needs of the electorate in our
planning. Among points of particular relevance is the impact of new
technologies, such as the Internet, on governance, on electoral
campaigns and on the way Canadians may be able to vote in the
Last year, I invited you to visit Elections Canada's Electoral
Geography Division to view the beginnings of the exciting geo-referencing
project. I made a presentation to this committee on
March 21, to explain what we have done to address concerns about
the quality of electoral maps. We also presented prototypes of the
maps we will producing for the next general election and obtained
your valuable input.
Thanks to our mutual efforts, I now have the pleasure of
informing you that I will be providing an overview map to each MP
of their riding by the end of the summer.
These innovations and improvements are but a few examples of
how Elections Canada strives to continuously improve services. Our
objective is to enhance the level of confidence of Canadians in our
ability to hold free and fair elections, thus strengthening
Canada's democracy. As for the cards, this morning I saw the first
prototype card to be printed using the new software which I
described to you and which is now functional.
We at Elections Canada would appreciate hearing the Standing
Committee's observations and questions about the information
presented in our Main Estimates document.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for this
opportunity to make my presentation and I would invite you to ask
the questions that you feel are relevant.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Kingsley. Your opening
statement has covered a wealth of subject areas.
I want to congratulate you and your team for—I guess
it's one of the simpler things—the map-making project
that you... Some members were of the view that the
maps prepared for the last election were a little on
the weaker side as opposed to the stronger side, and
now it appears as though we have a product that could
actually be the leading edge of the best in the world.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: It is.
The Chairman: So you've moved that envelope along
significantly, and I congratulate you for that.
I will go to colleagues now for questions.
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver, Canadian Alliance):
Good morning, Mr. Lee.
The Chairman: Good morning, Mr. White.
Mr. Ted White: Mr. Kingsley, thank you for the
I have three short questions.
The first one is to do with the returning officers and
assistant returning officers. Can you tell me, are
these people paid all year round, and if so, how much
are they paid? Can you tell me whether or not their
salary goes up at the time of an election or
by-election? Can you also tell me whether you've ever
done a cost estimate of changing the system from the
present patronage appointment system to one where you
would employ your own returning officers and deputy
returning officers and also whether that would require
an increase in staff?
My second question has to do with the voter education
and awareness program. You mentioned the number of
schools that took part in the vote. Can you also tell
me how many schools did not take part in the vote? I
don't know if you have that figure available. Can you
tell me how many actually laid complaints? And can you
tell me what you've actually done with the results of
My final question is related to the Internet. I
notice that the parliamentary site here on the Hill now
allows web surfers to put in a postal code and obtain
the name of their member of Parliament. The question
was asked when we were dealing with Bill C-2 at one
time as to whether or not the Elections Canada site had
that ability. I know you indicated that someone was
working on that. Can you explain how it can be done on
the parliamentary site but not on your own site—if
it's not yet being done—and if it isn't being done,
when will that be available?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
With respect to the pay for returning officers,
returning officers are not paid on a regular basis
unless they're performing tasks for Elections Canada.
Those tasks include training, for example, for which we
pay them the rate that is stipulated in the tariff of
The tariff of fees is an instrument that details how
everyone is paid who works during an election,
including returning officers and assistant returning
officers. The Chief Electoral Officer makes a
recommendation to the Governor in Council, which
recommendation is either accepted or refused outright,
but the tariff of fees that exists is one that was
recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer and accepted
as is. It dates back mainly to 1992.
Returning officers, as I was saying, are not paid
during events unless they're performing tasks. The
tasks they're performing now—for example, in relating
to parties and candidates about the location of mobile
polls, the location of other polls, and all the work
they're doing now—of course they will be paid
If we want to revise something with them, if there is
need for an additional training program during the time
they're there, that we will pay for, but there is no
standing fee for them.
With respect to the costing, if I, as the Chief
Electoral Officer, were to be responsible for their
recruitment and their selection, the only difference in
cost would be the two or three people that I would have
to hire at head office to run this. It has always been
foreseen that the returning officers who are there now
would not be replaced. We would replace them only as
they left their jobs. We would live with the present
appointments. That's not a problem. I've always said
that, no matter who had appointed them in the past.
In terms of the schedule of fees, I have
envisaged—and will be making a recommendation in the
near future to the Governor in Council—an increase in
the tariff, because none has really been forthcoming
since the 1993 general election. That should be
occurring right now.
With respect to the voter education program and the
number of schools that did not participate, I cannot
give you an accurate number. My recollection is that
there were tens of thousands of schools that could have
registered. I related to you that 2,000 did. The
number of complaints, as such...
I just got a note: there were 16,000 schools that
were eligible. The mathematics are simple: 16,000
minus 2,000, so 14,000 did not. We did receive a
number of complaints, some from some school boards,
some from one or two ministers of education in the
provinces, relating to how we had gone about this, and
I was able to explain to them how we had gone about it.
Was there another part of that question that I'm
Mr. Ted White: Yes. What happened to the results?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: The results were posted
on the Internet site that had been prepared for this,
where the instructions on how to participate were
elaborated, and that's it.
Mr. Ted White: Okay.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: They were just posted
there, and they stayed there for a while. I suspect
that site has now gone, but I'm not sure.
A voice: I think it might still be up.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: It could still be up,
but it is not part of the Elections Canada site.
With respect to the Internet site at Elections Canada
and access to the names of MPs and so on and so forth,
that's just a matter of establishing a hot link with
the Parliament of Canada site and having a heading that
says that this is how you achieve it. I wouldn't want
to just duplicate the information. That would be a
waste of cyberspace.
Mr. Ted White: My specific question, though, was
related to the postal code information. We had asked
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Oh, yes.
Mr. Ted White: —during Bill C-2 about that
particular aspect. How does a person know which riding
they're in and a postal code...
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I'm sorry. I thought
your question related only to who is the MP for the
riding. In that respect, we can tie into this site,
the site of the House of Commons.
With respect to the other one, we are working on what
is called a “search engine”, which would allow this
to happen through the Internet site.
Do you wish to add something to this, Patricia?
Ms. Patricia J. Hassard (Assistant Chief Electoral
Officer, Office of the Chief Electoral Officer): Yes.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Patricia Hassard will
add to this, with your permission.
Mr. Ted White: Yes.
Ms. Patricia Hassard: It's one of the projects I'm
working on. I think this is one of those situations
where you have to walk before you can run. Ideally, any
Canadian elector would be able to type in—at home or
on the phone—their postal code and then receive
information about what riding they're in and, in fact,
what polling division they're in and where their
polling place is. That is our ultimate objective.
But in order to do the improved service to the public,
what we're trying to do is create the poll-key search
engine, which draws from a number of databases, make
sure the quality is high, and provide that to our
telephone inquiries system. That's our first
objective, and that is our objective for September 1.
After that, we will be looking at what you're talking
about, but it is one of those types of projects that we
believe we should phase.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. White.
I'll now go to Madam Dalphond-Guiral.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral (Laval Centre, BQ): Mr. Kingsley,
ladies, thank you for coming here.
You told us that Elections Canada should always be ready for
an imminent election and always "be prepared", just like the
scouts. I should tell you that the same thing applies to political
We currently have a problem. Bill C-2, which was adopted in
speedy fashion by the House of Commons, is still in the Senate. I'd
like to hear what you have to say on this issue. When will the
Senate have completed its work and when will Royal Assent be given?
You mentioned in your presentation that there was a maximum
six-month delay to apply the new legislation, but that you could
table a notice that would shorten the implementation of the bill.
You have surely thought about the delay which would seem applicable
to you and about how you would manage all of this. Could you tell
us about your thoughts?
My third question deals with the tasks that the various
political parties must assume, specifically the creation and the
presentation of reports to the Chief Electoral Officer. July is
coming up quite soon, in less than six weeks. I would like to know
pursuant to which bill our reports will be presented. I imagine
that it would be under the legislation that is currently in force.
If, for example, the bill received Royal Assent on June 24, and you
tabled your notice on June 25, it would be difficult to ask people
to produce a report under the terms of the new legislation.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I will answer certain points and
then I will ask Ms. Vézina to complete my answers.
As to Bill C-2, which is currently at third reading before the
Senate, I have no idea when the Senate will adopt it. I really
can't say anything about that. It is up to the Senators to do their
work as they see fit.
Obviously, the issue is always the same: Elections Canada is
an organization that is very date dependent. When the House of
Commons takes the time required to do its work, it does so; when
the Senate does so, it's the same thing. At a certain point in
time, the Chief Electoral Officer is told: “Here's the new
legislation. It is now up to you to implement it and you just have
six months to do it.”
This leads me to respond to your second question. I mentioned
in my text that I had settled on September 1 as a convergence date
for all the planning and all the special projects which are
currently in the works. Obviously, I am waiting for C-2 to become
law before making any definitive statement.
Each week that goes by delays my ability to put C-2 into
implementation by a week, but I can tell you what I intend to do,
because I think that that is important for you to know.
Inasmuch as possible, I want to ensure that the new
legislation will be in force in time for the next general
elections. I don't know how I could deal with elections where new
legislation has been adopted, but where the Chief Electoral Officer
did not have enough time to complete his work, and where Canadians
would then have to deal with an election under the old legislation.
I must admit that I really don't like to think about it.
This leads me to say that I will do everything in my power to
ensure that everything is ready towards September 1, including the
implementation of Bill C-2. But I must admit that if it is delayed
and continues to be delayed... No one can be expected to accomplish
As to the third element that you raised, the case of the
reports which must be tabled by July 1, namely June 30th next, this
will be done under the current legislation since that is the only
legislation in force. However, if the new legislation came into
force between now and then, reports would have to be tabled under
the current legislation.
And now I will ask Janice to explain the interim measures.
Ms. Janice Vézina (Director of Election Financing,
Office of the Chief Electoral Officer): The section in
Bill C-2 is clause 555. It explains the timing of
the reports based on whether the bill comes into force
prior to June 30 or following July 1. So in the case
you've described, what Mr. Kinglsey has said is quite
correct, that the reports due July 1 are in fact under
the current act. So again, it will all depend on the
timing of the passage for future years' reports, but for
this July 1 it's under the current act.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: I can't stop myself from
sharing something with you. I find it rather unseemly—and I'm
choosing my words very carefully here—that after the House of
Commons dealt very quickly with Bill C-2, thus reflecting the
urgency and the imperative need to get the matter dealt with the
Other Place is proceeding at a snail's space. I'm not expecting
them to be swift as the wind, but I think that to show concern for
democracy, to demonstrate a certain respect for democracy, the
Other Place should speed the process up somewhat.
I'm not asking my colleagues to nod in agreement with me, but
I would tend to believe that I am not the only person around this
table to be of this opinion and that there is a certain support for
what I'm saying.
I have another question. Based on what you have said, you
firmly intend to ensure that the next election will proceed under
the new legislation. Am I to understand that you are going to have
some extraordinary power over the Prime Minister, who is the only
person who may decide when an election is to be held? If this is
the case, I'm delighted to hear it.
Furthermore, where are we in the whole area of training
political staff? God only knows that there is a lot of training
provided by Elections Canada, but within the ridings, a certain
number of people must be trained as well in order to ensure the
fair and accurate expression of the citizen's will.
Experience has shown that where training is concerned, it is
better to do it sooner rather than later and let people know what
to expect. Are you telling me today that we can proceed pursuant to
C-2 and that there won't be anything else? Or are you telling me
that there will have to be two types of training, one for the old
legislation and one for the new?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: All I'm saying is that I have put my
team on alert. It is up to you to act as you see fit. I read the
papers and I take that information into account. That is why I set
September 1 as a target date for planning. If there were a general
election before that date, we would be able to deliver the goods,
but if this election is held afterwards, the process will be based
on a certain number of new computer products that will allow us to
better manage the election, such as the “revise” project.
Training will take place this summer, without a doubt. That is
a concrete plan that I provided you with. We have reserved all the
required rooms. It is the last major training session for all of
the staff before the general election, whether it takes place in
September or October of the year 2000, or in September or October
of next year.
If ever there was to be other training, it would be a more
specific type of training based on the new systems that we will
have developed later on. That is still part of our plans. After
September 1, we will be in the new planning phase. If we go until
the spring, there will have been other improvements made.
That is how planning is done. It's the only way to plan in a
regime where one doesn't know when a general election may be
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Kingsley and Madame
Dalphond-Guiral, for putting on the record the
complexity involved in planning for likely changes in
the law. It's not easy.
I'll go to Mr. St-Julien, and then to Mr. Godin.
Mr. Guy St-Julien (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, Lib.): Mr. Kingsley,
first of all, I would like to congratulate your team
for the excellent work they do in your offices; these people also
provide us with very useful information regarding our ridings. And
I would like to indicate that we have a wonderful collaboration
with them and receive excellent service from them.
On page 11 of your brief, you mention 18-year-olds, new
Canadians and Aboriginal Canadians. You never mention the Inuit,
whereas we know that the term Aboriginal Canadian does not include
the Inuit. In the future, we would appreciate that Elections Canada
specify in its documents that the Inuit are also part of our
system. That's just a little comment.
I now have a question on schedules 1, 2 and 3. On what
principles are they based? You could respond in writing to the
committee if you prefer. On what principles are schedules 1, 2 and
3 based? Or were they established based on geography, the number of
voters, or something else?
In the Estimates and in your brief, there's mention made of
electoral geography. We know that schedules 1, 2 and 3 do not deal
with the geographical aspect, the percentage in square footage or
in square kilometres as it relates to the population in the area;
it doesn't mention electors. So upon what are schedules 1, 2 and 3
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: First of all, with regard to the
first question or the first comment, there is no doubt in my mind
that the term Aboriginal Canadians includes the Inuit. That is part
of our plans. When we establish our links with Aboriginal groups,
we also establish links with the Inuit. We have done so in the
past. For the referendum in 1992, the question was written in 21
Native languages, including two Inuit languages, if not three.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Very well.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I don't think that there is any
other parliamentary or government agency which has used as many
Native languages. As well, we have an oral version of the question
available in some ten other Native languages, including Inuit
As to the famous schedule 3, the response is very complicated.
Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I will give a written
explanation to the committee as to the rules which set the basis
for this appendix. I understand the importance of this issue to
members. Because of all the changes which were made to the
Elections Act, it has become of secondary interest at Elections
Canada, but it is of great interest to the members of Parliament.
We follow the legislation to the letter, but it is so
complicated that I can't remember it by heart. I don't think that
either of my colleagues know it by heart either. So I would like to
respond in writing and thus respond to the question asked by
Mr. Guy St-Julien: In the response that you will provide, it
would also be important for you to tell us when was the last time
that these schedules were revised.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: We will send you that information.
I will also share with you the results in order that you may be
aware of what was done in each riding.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Perfect.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Thank you.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: I'd now like to get back to the voters' list
for the general elections leading to the 36th Legislature. I
have here the list that was produced by Elections Canada.
You often mention members' interests. As far as I'm concerned,
the interests of the people are more important. As to enumerations
in the ridings, we know that they are never 100% accurate.
In certain ridings the population is quite old; in others, the
population is very young. And there's also the Aboriginal aspect,
the Inuit aspect.
I have your list here. You mentioned the population numbers
for 1996; you have the final list of electors and the square
kilometre area. Often, federal or provincial departments, even
those in Quebec, use the 1996 Statistics Canada census to create a
certain number of lists. They base their calculations on the census
data of 1996, a process which lasted a week. As far as I'm
concerned, this list is outdated in terms of how it represents the
I will use my own riding as an example, Abitibi—Baie-
James—Nunavik. It covers 802,000 square kilometres, has a
population of 95,000 individuals and 65,000 electors. It is the
largest riding of all ten provinces. The smallest riding is that of
Gilles Duceppe, of the Bloc Québécois. It covers nine square
kilometres, has a population of 96,000, as does mine, and 72,000
electors. I know that in the greater riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik,
the census is 100% accurate. We are low on the
number of electors and that is reflected in the budgets. When the
budgets are created at the House of Commons pursuant to schedules
1, 2 and 3, that is reflected. How is it that Elections Canada does
not use the census data to create these schedules?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Part of your question, if I have
understood it correctly, goes back to the previous question about
how schedules 1, 2 and 3 were established. I would like to cover
that in the answer I will provide you in writing, because I do not
have that information at my fingertips.
As regards what you call enumeration or the census, you are
aware that with the permanent electoral list, Elections Canada no
longer does census enumeration, generally speaking. Elections
Canada does not depend on Statistics Canada to establish the
voters' list. This data has nothing to do with that. They use the
data that was collected during the 1997 general election, with the
updates that have been done since. It goes even farther than that.
With the candidates, the parties and your representatives, our
returning officers are currently identifying areas where mobility
is high. They are currently identifying places, like apartment
buildings, where mobility is high, places where there are new urban
developments, areas where there are lots of seniors or students so
that we can target our efforts during the next campaign. That way,
we will be able to obtain the names of these people during the
review process. We will call it a registration form. We will use
the word "registration", because the word "revision" doesn't mean
anything to most people. That is what it is in the end.
So we don't rely on what the other departments have done. We
do it ourselves, based on what you tell the returning officer, in
the event that you run in the next election, based on what the
other candidates say and based on our own knowledge. The work is
done in the field by the returning officers. That is why it is
important for people in the riding to hold these positions, and
that is covered in the Act.
Finally, as you say in English, the name of the game is doing
the review during the election campaign and working in very close
co-operation with the returning officer so that we can get all of
these names. We plan to use additional measures so that the
authorized revising officers can automatically add the names and go
door-to-door in these areas that we have targeted, or that
returning officers will target with the candidates, so that we can
make sure we have as complete a list as possible.
Moreover, bear in mind that the federal Act, which is
extremely wise in many cases, includes registration, on polling
day, for people who have been left out despite all of these
I can assure you that during our advertising campaign, we will
tell people to show up with minimal identification, not with a
voter's card since we don't have any, but with a minimal
identification card. We will also have a list to make the job
As regards the list, if I've understood the second part of
your question correctly, I can assure you that we were aiming to
create a list that is as complete as possible and better than the
one that existed when we went door-to-door.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: I have one last very short question. You
say that you do not rely on the other departments, but one thing is
important in rural areas, in regions that are isolated from large
urban centres: you never mention in your lists how many
municipalities there are per riding.
Some say one mayor, one city. I know that there are some
ridings that are nine square kilometres and only have one mayor's
office. Some large isolated rural ridings have 68 mayors in 68
municipalities. That is demanding and that is reflected in the
House of Commons in the members' budgets, regardless of the
We should have a list for each area, so that we know how many
municipalities there are in each federal riding.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I have heard the member's comments,
and I will come back to that point in my written response.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: That's good, thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Kingsley.
Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP): Mr. Kingsley, you
mentioned training for the returning officers and the essential
members of their staff.
Have you ever thought of applying that to the political
party's official agents, especially since this is a new Act? That
is one of the suggestions I wanted to make.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: As regards political parties, they
were invited to go to Elections Canada, in the event that the Act
is adopted between now and June 9, to attend a day-long information
session on the new Act.
It is valuable not only for the five political parties that
are registered and represented in the House of Commons, but also
for the two or three other parties that have requested to be
registered for the next election, so that all parties, existing or
budding, benefit from this knowledge. It is up to the parties to
decide how many people and whom they will send to these information
Mr. Yvon Godin: Will the sessions be held in the regions or
here, in Ottawa?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: It is a session that will be held
with the Advisory Committee. That is part of the answer.
The other part is that there will be particular sessions,
though our financial sector, at the start of the event. We will go
to each region of the country to provide training, in the official
language requested by the elections officials who work for the
political parties, so that we can update them on the financial
As for the other aspects, I will have to see if other training
sessions could be offered to these people. I thank you for the
suggestion, as for the time being, nothing else is scheduled.
When we meet the political parties during the training session
on the bill, if it is adopted, we will ask them their opinion, how
to proceed with the official agents for the parties in the regions,
to see what they suggest and what we can agree on. I thank you for
the suggestion. We will follow up on it.
Mr. Yvon Godin: In Canada, we have two official languages,
English and French, but in urban centres like Toronto, there are
people who don't speak either of these languages. They are
There are many in British Columbia, for example, who only
speak Chinese or another Asian language. What do you do to try to
provide them with information on elections in Canada?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: During an election campaign, and
even beforehand, since I foresee the need for some advertising to
inform Canadians, we advertize in the newspapers and on the radio
in languages other than English and French. That allows us to reach
Canadians of Chinese descent. We advertize in about 30 different
languages, the 30 most-used languages, so that we can provide
Canadians with information on the right to vote, the election day,
etc. We provide basic information on the Canadian electoral
Mr. Yvon Godin: You mentioned the low voter turnout among
young people. I would like to make a suggestion in that regard. Why
not make an effort to go into colleges and universities and set up
an advertising program targeting young people? They could be
introduced to it when they complete their grade 12, for example, or
even during grade 12, and then in college and university.
It would raise their awareness for the rest of their lives and
enable them to understand what an election is all about and how
important it is. It is not about politics, but about going into the
classrooms to directly explain our democracy in Canada, especially
since we know that we will have an election soon. It is in the air.
We read the newspapers. As members, even we don't know.
I think that would be a suggestion to reach young people.
A voice: It will be soon.
Mr. Yvon Godin: Yes, it's coming. We are not getting farther
away; we are getting closer to an election.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I could not agree with you more.
Mr. Yvon Godin: Thank you.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: We plan to set up special projects
for young people before they finish their secondary schooling. We
are going to go to existing channels so that it becomes, as much as
possible, part of each province's curriculum, since education is a
Mr. Yvon Godin: I have another question. During the election
in St. John's-West, we saw that people were not registered with
Elections Canada. Earlier on, you mentioned minimal identification.
Why not allow these people who are not registered to take an oath?
That would make the process much simpler, because we really had
problems in St. John's West.
Ms. Patricia Hassard: I think one aspect in Bill
C-2 that may address your question is the ability to
vouch for a spouse where there is no suitable
identification. That will still exist. And the
practice of vouching will be available across the
country, rather than only in rural ridings.
We're also looking very closely at the whole question
of identification requirement for voters. It's a new
policy that we are developing. We'll make some changes
in terms of voters who do not have a permanent
residence. We will be looking at the list of
dormeurs in shelters and proposing that be used
as proof of address.
We are looking very carefully at those requirements
to try to make them as flexible as possible and still
maintain the integrity of the system. It's something
we've discussed at some length with the advisory
committee of political parties, and we have a draft
proposal to make to them in June.
Mr. Yvon Godin: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Monsieur Godin.
I will now go to Mr. Kilger, Mr. Pickard, and then
back for some second rounds.
Mr. Bob Kilger (Stormont—Dundas—Charlottenburgh,
Lib.): I pass.
The Chairman: Okay. Mr. Pickard.
Mr. Jerry Pickard (Chatham—Kent Essex, Lib.):
Thank you very much for coming today, Mr. Kingsley and
I'm interested in the area or the role you are taking
in looking at groups that I could suggest are possibly
disenfranchised. We talk of the youth, we talk of new
Canadians, we talk of the disabled, we talk of people
with limited literacy. Do you have reasons why these
people are disenfranchised or represent low percentage
voter turnout, however you wish to examine that, and
are you trying to implement means by which you can
Obviously, with the disabled or
homebound people, it may well be the barrier of getting
the vote out.
But in other cases, it seems to me that you may be
taking on a role in which I'm not sure you can be the
agent of change for large groups, because this may be a
cyclical thing in Canada where at one point we may have
a higher voter turnout and at other times a lower voter
turnout, depending upon the differences people see in
the political system and the political structure.
Things do change. People become more remote from
issues that may be debated. As a result, is it really
the role of Elections Canada to try to move that
percentage up, or is it more the role of the political
system in the country to make sure the issues are out
to the public and heard well? Maybe the political
parties should be reaching out more, if that is the
case, and they may not be doing their jobs as well as
they should. But the reality, from my viewpoint, is
how much of a change can you create by focusing on
youth or focusing on various groups? In some cases,
does that affect how you can reach out generally to the
In general terms, if we're declining in votes it's a
political process that isn't working as well as it
should. Is it really the role of Elections Canada to
try to change that?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: In my introductory
remarks I was indicating that I view this as a problem,
because I think it is a problem—it's a personal view,
but it's reflected by many people—that has many
facets. As you say, some of them relate to how people
relate to politics or how politics relate to people or
how political parties relate to people.
What I was trying to allude to is the fact that under
the act I do have a responsibility to reach out to
Canadians and educate them about the process. What
we're trying to do is to find smarter ways of doing
that. In other words, to me it's not acceptable that a
Canadian who is a shut-in, who could have voted by
special ballot, did not vote by special ballot because
he or she did not know they could vote by special
ballot. I view that as something that is not
acceptable and on which I have to find a method
to reach out more.
With those people, we reach out to the groups that
usually represent them. For shut-ins it's not always
easy to know who represents them, but sometimes they'll
belong to another group and we establish linkages with
those groups. The Association for Community Living is
an example. Our efforts were recognized when a
national award was given by them two years ago. But we
continue to reach out to groups like that to find
out—and we're trying to do this with aboriginal groups
as well—what is the best way for us to frame a message
that will reach that population so that we will be able
to convey our message about the electoral process.
That's what we do.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Thinking about that, though,
you need the reason why they are low percentage. I
think in cases where people are homebound, there's a
very obvious reason why, and there are things we can do
to accomplish that aim. But I'm not sure it's so
obvious with youth or with aboriginal peoples or with
new Canadians as clearly as it is with shut-ins.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: This is why I think it's
important to reach out to the people who represent
them, where it is possible to do so. We need to ask
them what is the best way to reach the people they
represent for the kind of message we're transmitting.
And that's what we're doing. In other words, we're
trying to gear the message about the importance of the
electoral process, their right to participate,
different instruments that are available to them to
facilitate the vote, and make sure they understand
that. That's what we're trying to do.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Okay. So this is an in-process
means that you're working at right now, rather than
having specific solutions for those problems that
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: That's right.
Mr. Jerry Pickard: Okay, thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Pickard.
Now to second rounds. Mr. White.
Mr. Ted White: Yes, thank you, Mr. Lee.
With respect to voter turnout as a whole, not
restricted to one particular group, I would just make
the observation that if you look worldwide, it seems to
me the more responsive a government is to the will of
its voters, the lower the voter turnout. In
Switzerland, for example, 17% on average turn out to
vote. In Canadian municipal elections 14% turn out to
vote, because the government is very responsive. On
the other hand, if you look at dictatorships, they have
extremely high voter turnout because it's compulsory to
So I would make the observation that I'm not too
worried about voter turnout, because the lower it is,
the more democratic the government. I'm just giving
you an interesting thing to think about there and to
draw your own conclusions from.
My question is with regard to Elections Canada
international projects, missions to other countries.
How is that paid for? Does it come out of the
Elections Canada budget? Do you have to cover the cost
of the staff time for that? Do the other countries help
contribute or does it come out of other government
departments within Canada?
As well, to follow up on the earlier question about
the schedule of fees for returning officers and deputy
returning officers, is that list of fees published
anywhere such that we can get hold of it, or is it a
secret list that's only seen by the Governor in
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: This is a very public
document, sir, and it's available. I don't know if
it's on the website, but certainly it's available. I
would be more than happy to share it with this
committee at any time.
Mr. Ted White: Then I would request a copy of
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: I'd be more than happy
to provide it to you.
With respect to the funding of international
activities, very few people at Elections Canada
actually go out and do work on the international scene.
For the very few who do, their salary comes out of the
main allocation. The travel and other expenditures
generally are met by another party, either another
government department or sometimes an international
association, such as IDEA, which is
Stockholm-based, or the United Nations. La
Francophonie, for instance, for whom I'm doing work
right now, is paying for my travel and my lodging and
so on and so forth.
When there are missions that involve a lot of people
we utilize former returning officers or people who used
to work at Elections Canada. At Elections Canada we
are refunded by whichever is the sponsoring agency. If
it's CIDA, then we're paid for everything that we pay
for. If it's United Nations, then it's United Nations.
We do not pay for that.
The rates are recommended by me but they are set by
the agencies that do the funding. We try to establish
some kind of rationale on the rates so that there's no
Whenever I pay, then, I'm reimbursed fully.
Mr. Ted White: Thank you.
The Chairman: Madam Dalphond-Guiral.
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: Mr. Chairman, I have a short
In your presentation, you said that at the start of the year,
you had asked returning officers to draw up an inventory of areas
where it would be appropriate to have “elector registration
initiatives”. I imagine that if you got the ball rolling at the
start of February, the work must be nearing completion.
Could you send the various political parties information
regarding the number of revising agents—I do not know what they
will be called—that will be required? That way, we will be in a
position to find people who are able to do the best job possible.
We know that the less time we have to find people, the harder it
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: As regards the anticipated number of
people, we are currently in the process of determining the number
for each riding, with each returning officer, based on the work
that has already been done, as you say.
I will ask them to send the information on to the parties, the
members, and the candidates as soon as it is available to make the
job easier for you, so that you know if you need 30 or 300 people,
because that is a significant margin. I appreciate your
Ms. Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral: My friend opposite will need
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Okay.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Thank you, madam.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: The suggestion is well founded and
we will act on it accordingly.
The Chairman: Mr. Godin, we're into the second round.
Mr. Yvon Godin: I would like to ask a short question. You are
aware that Lorne Nystrom tabled a bill in the House on proportional
representation. I would like to know how interested you are in
that, and I would also like you to share your ideas with us if you
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: We held a day-long session on the
topic with the political party advisory committee, and the results
are posted on the Elections Canada Internet site. We talk about
different models, their advantages and disadvantages, and the role
of Elections Canada. That is where we are at for the time being.
The Chairman: Well done.
I have a very short question.
In your opening statement, Mr. Kingsley, you indicated
savings of approximately $30 million in the
construction of the voters list in an election. I
think that's what you said, that there were savings of
We're all delighted around the table here and in the
House to see savings, and those are substantial, but is
that $30 million a net figure, net of the other costs
of creating and maintaining a list, or is that actually
the true net savings after the other costs are
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: The $30 million savings
that were alluded to in my opening remarks are directly
attributable to the fact that we will be utilizing the
register instead of door-to-door enumeration. Those
are net savings that take into account the $5 million
or so that we utilize every year to maintain the
register and operating costs. In effect, the $50
million gross savings translate to $30 million. That
was the business case that we exposed to you, and we're
doing better than the business case.
For those of you who are interested, the last general
election and enumeration cost $201 million. The next
election will cost $1 million less, including all of
the rate increases and all of the additional polling
sites because of increases in populations. That's in
part a reflection of that $30 million savings.
The Chairman: Well, that's great. For all of us who
vote the money, those kinds of savings, substantial as
they are, are very gratifying. Thank you for outlining
that to us.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Mr. Chairman, can Mr. Kingsley tell us when
we will get an answer to the questions I asked?
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: Since I only have one question to
answer, I should be in a position to do it very quickly. Let's say
you will have an answer within two weeks.
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Thank you.
Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley: If my staff tell me again that I
have promised something impossible, I will get back to you with the
Mr. Guy St-Julien: Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Thank you. I'm sure Mr. St-Julien is
satisfied with that response.
If there is no further discussion, I will put the
question on vote 20 of the estimates.
It is moved by Mr. Kilger that vote 20 under Privy
Council, less the amount voted in interim supply,
(Motion agreed to)
Vote 20—Program expenditures ...... $3,065,000
(Vote 20 agreed to)
The Chairman: Thank you.
We have a little bit of business. I would like to ask
for a steering committee meeting on Monday, May 29, at
3:30 p.m. That is the date of the return of the House
after the one-week break. This would be a steering
committee to focus on the work that will follow later
in the week.
On Tuesday morning our business is the consideration
of a draft report on the work of the legislative
counsel and confidentiality, but on the steering
community we have to get our heads around the future
business dealing with the Standing Orders, etc.
Seeing no objection, I'll take that as agreement,
colleagues. The clerk will advise all of us.
Seeing no further business, we can adjourn. Thank