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Interesting facts about Elections Canada

An anonymous commentator over at CalgaryGrit responded to Dan’s feeling that if the current governing Cons. has no confidence in Elections Canada, then officials will either resign or get fired (Linda Keen’ed was his apt description).  That commentator made some excellent points why this wouldn’t happen, and they bear repeating here:

Under s. 13 of the Canada Elections Act, the House of Commons appoints the Chief Electoral Officer by resolution. The CEO may only be removed for cause by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. In other words, the Governor in Council has no power to remove the CEO, for cause or otherwise. Only the Governor General, on the advice of Parliament, has that power. The Commissioner is appointed by the CEO pursuant to s. 509 of the Canada Elections Act. As it is the role of the Commissioner to ensure the Act is enforced, I doubt anyone other than the CEO could remove the Commissioner, and then only for cause. So, it is irrelevant insofar as the CEO or Commissioner’s security of tenure is concerned that the government has voted no confidence. What is important is that the CEO retains the confidence of Parliament, which he has.

That commentator then makes an interesting follow-up -  what really matters is what happens next:

What happens if and when the Conservative lose a court case on this. What happens if their judicial review application gets dismissed? What happens if the Conservative Fund or the Conservative Party gets charged with and convicted of an offence? Will they then vote no confidence in the courts?  It is one thing for the government to vote no confidence in the institution that runs elections.  It is another thing entirely for the government to essentially deny the legitimacy of the institution that enforces the constitution and the rule of law.

A couple of good questions by that anonymous commenter – I wish I could give that person more credit for some excellent well thought out points, but turning those comments into a blogpost for greater read distribution will have to do for now.

Essentially, what you’re seeing with the Tories voting no-confidence in Elections Canada, which in the words of the Toronto Star, was the Conservatives launching “an all-out assault on Elections Canada’s credibility”, (not to mention Harper mouthpiece spokesperson Dimitri Soudras expressing confidence in the Elections Canada Act, but not the ruling of Elections Canada against the Conservatives) is an attempt to get their Conservative base voters outraged, as well as try to convince voters that Elections Canada holds a bias against them. They wish to discredit a federal agency here in Canada that has a lot of credibility elsewhere in the world.

For now however, there will be no reprisals against Elections Canada by Harper seeking vengeance on an agency that has called them out on circumventing spending rules, or for past grudges that Harper may hold against EC when it comes to third-party advertising (which the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Elections Canada’s favour). The very act as related above guarantees their independence.

This behaviour by the Cons. is all about trying to portray themselves as the poor picked on victim in this case.  Attacking the workings of government and the federal agencies independence who put natural checks on the government from within is also what is at work here.

Very Republican like, I should say. Nixon and Bush Jr must be proud of their neo-conservative Canadian disciples.

6 comments to Interesting facts about Elections Canada

  • wilson

    ‘…Strange that Elections Canada didnt bother looking into that one. Perhaps Kingsley’s son’s job with the Liberals was too important to risk a probe…’

    EC could not look into the Liberal candidates and the Liberal Party, that took Adscam cash to run their election, due to a time limit technicality, of 18 months.
    PMSH has raised that to 10 years where criminal wrong doing can be investigated by EC.

    But that doesn’t stop the RCMP.

    The Federal Accountability Act, for the first time, includes Elections Canada under access to information, which coincidentlywas at the same time that Kingsley quit. Interesting times ahead.

  • Actually, Colin, that is not correct. If you want to see why it was likely that EC went to a judge in Toronto, read Fuddle-Duddle’s post about that. THAT is much more likely then your theory, which even Greg Weston of the Sun chain dismisses.

    As for the rest – nothing but more smears trying to impugn an internationally respected body like Elections Canada. The fact is, there is only one party under investigation right now for Election laws being broken – and that is the party you support Colin.. and it’s not to do with picking on them – its to do with the fact they broke the law and are now mad that they got caught.

  • Colin

    Actually this whole thing proves Harper’s claim about govt agencies acting as a check on his power.

    Elections Canada shopped around and found a liberal judge in Toronto and then broke their own rules by conducting an illegal raid to allegedly obtain documents that the Conservatives were going to use to prove their claim against EC in court!

    The Conservatives would not destroy documents they would need to prove their case. In fact the conservatives arent hiding anything because they dont feel they have done anything wrong.

    If Liberals like Ralph Goodale want to call into question the validity of the last election he should recall the infamous sponsorship years when his party financed whole Quebec campaigns with money stolen from the taxpayers of Canada.

    Strange that Elections Canada didnt bother looking into that one. Perhaps Kingsley’s son’s job with the Liberals was too important to risk a probe.

  • This has gotten beyond the point of laughable. Set aside the fact that the Chief Electoral Officer and his or her assistant can only be impeached and removed by a majority of BOTH houses of Parliament; something which is also true of federally appointed judges (under the Constitution) — and of course will not happen so long as there’s a minority in the lower house and the Liberals maintain their majority in the Senate.

    This goes against so-called Harper’s “reassurances” during the last election that the Senate, the courts and independent agencies would continue to act as a check against him. This should not be surprising at all considering he broke his promises on health care reform and income trust taxation. A control freak starts a reign of terror by Killing the Friendly Giant and hoping people will quickly forget those things, BEFORE the real damage is done and it’s too late to fight back.

  • Sandi

    As we all know – playing the victim is a sign of weakness.

    Therefore, Harper is a weak leader.

  • All joking about Canada’s Illegitimate
    Government aside, we would do well to remember that “the government”, in fact, voted in support of Elections Canada because a majority of MPs did, just as any legislation that’s passed in the commons still requires a majority of votes. In this context, “the government” and “the governing party” aren’t synonymous as much as that may annoy the Conservatives.

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