OTTAWA — Canada’s chief electoral officer says the only team sweater he wears is the striped “white and black,” and that a Conservative overhaul of the Elections Act will take the referee off the ice.
The bill will move the commissioner of elections, who conducts investigations, into a separate office from Elections Canada and under the authority of the director of public prosecutions.
Mayrand said splitting up his office is not his concern, but the failure to give the commissioner more powers should be addressed.
“What worries me, I must say, is whether the commissioner will get the toolbox he needs to do his job. And I’m afraid that I don’t see it in the act as it’s currently written.”
Mayrand said the lack of transparency of political parties is not addressed in the bill. The commissioner is not being given the power to compel testimony from witnesses, he added.
Former elections watchdog Jean-Pierre Kingsley also bemoaned the lack of multi-party consensus in the approach to electoral reforms.
In an interview, the former chief electoral officer said at one time reforms used to pass through Parliament relatively smoothly because the government consulted in advance with opposition parties and Elections Canada to ensure legislation was perceived as non-partisan.
Kingsley said that process has been gradually breaking down for years but it’s “entirely of another order” today.