News Releases: Commissioner of Canada Elections

Statement by the Commissioner of Canada Elections

Gatineau, May 2, 2019

In light of renewed media interest in a 2016 decision by the Commissioner of Canada Elections to enter into a compliance agreement with SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and certain allegations made concerning the circumstances surrounding the conclusion of this agreement, the Commissioner wishes to provide clarifications in the interest of maintaining public confidence in the integrity of the Canada Elections Act's compliance and enforcement regime.

The Commissioner carries out his compliance and enforcement mandate with complete independence from the government of the day, including from the Prime Minister's Office or any Minister's office, from any elected official or their staff, and from any public servant. At no time, since the current Commissioner was appointed in 2012, has an attempt been made by any elected official or political staffer to influence or to interfere with any compliance or enforcement decision that did not directly involve them as the subject of the investigation.

"The independence of the Commissioner is a key component of our electoral compliance and enforcement regime. In my time as Commissioner, there has never been any attempt by elected officials, political staffers or public servants to influence the course of an investigation or to interfere with our work. And I want to make it clear that if this ever happened, I would promptly and publicly denounce it."

Yves Côté, Commissioner of Canada Elections


Compliance and enforcement decisions are taken in a manner consistent with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. Paragraph 32 outlines the various factors that go into determining which compliance or enforcement tool is most appropriate in a given case. With respect to SNC-Lavalin, some of the factors that were taken into consideration are outlined in the compliance agreement.

As noted at paragraph 32(b) of the Policy, the evidence gathered during an investigation is an important consideration in determining how to deal with a particular case. This calls for an objective review of the evidence that has been assembled to assess its strength. In this regard, it should be noted that a compliance agreement may be entered into on the basis of evidence meeting the civil standard of balance of probabilities, while the laying of criminal charges requires evidence that meets the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

It should be noted that through amendments to the Act made with Bill C-23 in 2014, the longstanding practice of the Commissioner to not provide details of investigations was confirmed, with the adoption of clear confidentiality rules. This is consistent with the manner police and investigative agencies treat information related to their investigations.

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