News Releases: Commissioner of Canada Elections
Commissioner of Canada Elections Appears Before Parliamentary Committee
on Bill C-23
Gatineau, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
- Mr. Yves Côté, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs today to provide parliamentarians with his views on Bill C-23.
- The Commissioner took the opportunity to highlight the benefits of the current relationship between his Office and Elections Canada. In particular, he highlighted the importance of having unimpeded, quick and efficient access to experts and information within Elections Canada.
- The Commissioner also reassured the Committee of his ongoing operational and investigative independence from Elections Canada, and expressed concerns about his Office being placed within that of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- He expressed strong disappointment that Bill C-23 does not include the ability to seek a court order to compel testimony from potential witnesses, and reminded Committee members of the ongoing difficulties his investigators encounter in their investigations as a result of not having this power.
- The Commissioner was pleased to note improvements contained in Bill C-23 regarding the creation of new offences and increases in fines, but reminded the Committee that achieving compliance with election rules should not rely primarily on criminal offences and sanctions. More flexibility is required (by way, for example, of administrative penalties) to deal with breaches of a less serious nature.
"It is essential that Canadians have full confidence in their elections and electoral system. This can only be achieved through rigorous, timely and efficient enforcement when wrongdoing is suspected," said Mr. Côté. "I hope the Committee – and, ultimately, Parliament – appreciates the importance for the Commissioner to have the proper investigative tools, such as the ability to seek a court order to compel testimony, in order to enforce our electoral laws and protect our democratic values."
Elections Canada Media Relations
or at www.elections.ca