Ottawa, December 14, 2018 – The Government of Canada has taken important steps to modernize the Canada Elections Act to address the realities facing Canadian democracy in 2019. The Elections Modernization Act (Bill C-76) received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018. The new legislation is part of a comprehensive plan to safeguard Canadians’ trust in our democratic processes and increase participation in democratic activities.
The Act will modernize the electoral process to make it easier for Canadians to participate in elections and improve Canadians’ trust and confidence in Canada’s electoral system. Provisions include equipping the Chief Electoral Officer with more flexibility to run elections more efficiently, reducing wait times, extending the hours for advance polls and the use of mobile polls to better serve remote and isolated communities, expanding the use of mobile polls, and updating references to gender throughout the Act.
Canadians can feel confident that their elections are safe from foreign influence and cyber disruption. The Elections Modernization Act will help Canadians know where information is coming from, guard against misinformation and interference during an election period. Further, foreign entities will now be prohibited from spending to influence elections. The Government of Canada believes in a whole-of-government approach that will protect and defend Canada’s democratic institutions from cyber threats and foreign interference.
To enhance transparency and ensure a fair and level playing field for political actors, the Elections Modernization Act addresses spending between and during elections. This legislation creates a pre-writ period beginning on June 30 of the year of a fixed-date election and ends with the issuing of the writ, limits the length of a writ period to a maximum of 50 days, and ensures spending between elections is subject to reasonable limits.
The Act will help make the electoral process more accessible by reducing barriers for persons with all types of disabilities, Canadians living abroad, and Canadian Armed Forces members, so they can vote and participate more fully in the electoral process.
These legislative changes will also reduce barriers to participation in our democratic process for those wishing to run for office, and repeal portions of the Fair Elections Act that made it harder for Canadians to vote. Notably, the legislation also reintroduces the Voter Information Card as a piece of identification, reintroduces vouching to allow a voter to vouch for another, and calls for the creation of a National Registry of Future Electors to pre-register Canadian youth aged 14-17 years.
The Minister of Democratic Institutions continues to work in collaboration with colleagues across government to ensure our electoral processes are secure.