For Your Information
38th general election begins

On May 23, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley directed the returning officers in Canada's 308 federal electoral districts to conduct the election of a member of the House of Commons. Election day for the 38th federal general election, set by the Governor in Council, will be Monday, June 28, 2004.

"All Canadian citizens aged 18 or over on the day of the election are entitled to vote," Mr. Kingsley stated. "Individuals can also participate in an election by working for the campaign of a candidate or a political party or by running for office themselves."

"Because we now prepare the lists of electors from the names in the National Register of Electors," added Mr. Kingsley, "most Canadians are already registered to vote."

A voter information card will be mailed to all electors who are on the lists. As of May 23, there were 22,238,485 Canadians registered on the preliminary lists for the election, Mr. Kingsley informed. "I urge Canadians to look for their voter information cards in the mail about 10 days from now. You should check that your name and address are correct and notify the returning officer if you need to make any changes," he said.

Electors will be able to vote on election day, June 28, 2004, or at the advance polls on Friday, June 18, 2004, Saturday, June 19, 2004, and Monday, June 21, 2004. An elector who does not wish to go to a polling station may apply to vote by special ballot by contacting the office of the returning officer or Elections Canada. The deadline for applications to vote by special ballot is 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 22, 2004. An elector may return the completed special ballot to the office of the returning officer for his or her electoral district before the polls close on election day, or mail it to Elections Canada for receipt before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on election day, as directed in the voting kit.

Federal elections are governed by the Canada Elections Act. Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

Important dates to remember

May 26: Revision of lists of electors begins

The revision of lists of electors begins on May 26, 2004, and ends on June 22, 2004, at 6:00 p.m. (local time). The purpose of the exercise is to allow electors to correct their names and addresses on the list, or to register if they are not yet on the list. To cast a ballot, electors must be on the list of electors in the polling division where they live.

At the start of the election, Elections Canada produces preliminary lists of electors based on information in the National Register of Electors. The Register is a database containing the names and addresses of electors. During the revision period, the lists are updated to include the names and addresses of electors who have moved, Canadian citizens who will be 18 years of age by election day, other electors not previously registered, and new Canadian citizens.

June 2, 3 and 4: Voter information cards mailed out

During this period, Elections Canada mails out a voter information card to every person registered on the preliminary lists of electors. This card confirms that the elector is registered to vote. It shows the elector's name and address and tells how he or she can reach the office of the returning officer, and where and when to vote.

If there is a mistake in an elector's name or address, he or she should inform the office of the returning officer before 6:00 p.m. on June 22, 2004. If there are no mistakes, the card should be kept as a reminder, since it tells the elector where and when to vote. An elector who has not received a voter information card by Wednesday, June 9, 2004, should contact his or her returning officer as soon as possible to register. An elector who receives a card addressed to someone else should also contact the returning officer by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card.

Electors who would like to add their names or correct their information on the lists should contact the office of their returning officer as soon as possible, or call 1 800 463-6868. The revision period ends on Tuesday, June 22, 2004, at 6:00 p.m. (local time).

June 7: Nominations close

June 7, 2004, is the day nominations close. Those who want to run for election have until 2:00 p.m. on this day to present their nomination papers to the returning officer in their electoral district. Candidates also have until 5:00 p.m. to withdraw their nominations.

Virtually any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age on election day may be a candidate. Candidates do not need to be supported by a political party or reside in the electoral district in which they are running. However, they must have their nomination papers signed, in front of a witness, by at least 100 electors from that electoral district (or 50 electors in the electoral districts listed in Schedule 3 of the Canada Elections Act), and pay a deposit of $1,000. The deposit will be refunded to candidates who comply with the reporting requirements set out in the Canada Elections Act.

June 9, 10 and 11: Reminder cards mailed out

During this period, Elections Canada mails a reminder card (addressed to "occupant") to every residence in each electoral district.

The card reminds electors to contact the office of the returning officer if there are errors on the voter information card they received a few days before, or if their voter information card has not arrived. It also reminds them of the date of election day and the ways they can register to vote, and provides other important information about the election.

June 18, 19 and 21: Advance voting

This is the period for advance voting. Any elector may choose to vote in advance. The voter information card shows the address of the elector's advance polling station. An elector may also obtain the address of the advance polling station from his or her returning officer, or from the Elections Canada Web site at

Electors who are not on the list of electors may still register and vote at the advance polls.

June 22: Revision ends; deadline for special ballot registration

The revision period ends at 6:00 p.m. on June 22, 2004. Any addition or change to the lists of electors, in advance of election day, must be made by this time. Electors who are not registered by this deadline may still register at the polls on election day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004, is also the deadline for registering to vote by special ballot. Any elector may choose to vote by special ballot.

Electors who wish to vote by special ballot must fill out an application for registration. Electors in their own electoral districts may obtain the form from the returning officer. Those who are away from their electoral districts but still in Canada may obtain the form from the office of any returning officer. Electors who are outside the country may obtain the form from any Canadian embassy, high commission or consular office. Any elector may also download the Application for Registration and Special Ballot form by clicking on the "I'm Mailing My Vote!" icon at Electors outside Canada must ensure that their completed applications are received by Elections Canada in Ottawa by 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), on June 22, 2004. Electors in Canada may return the completed application to any returning officer before 6:00 p.m., local time on the same day, or to Elections Canada in Ottawa before 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) that day. However, to obtain a voting kit more quickly, it is highly recommended that electors in their own ridings return the application to their returning officer before 6:00 p.m. (local time), on June 22, 2004, and that electors in Canada who are away from their electoral districts send the completed form directly to Elections Canada in Ottawa so that it arrives no later than 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on June 22, 2004.

June 28: Election day

New Law for Registering Political Parties in Effect

Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley announced on May 17 that Elections Canada has made the necessary preparations to bring the newly passed law on registering political parties into operation. Bill C-3 received royal assent on May 14 and came into force on May 15 when the Chief Electoral Officer published a notice to this effect in the Canada Gazette.

The changes to the Canada Elections Act follow a 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision in which the court struck down as unconstitutional the requirement that a party had to endorse at least 50 candidates in a general election to receive certain benefits under the law.

Now any political party that runs at least one candidate in a general election or by-election and complies with the legal requirements in the Act may be registered. Registration allows a political party to issue tax receipts for political contributions, to receive unspent election funds from candidates and to have a candidate's political affiliation listed on the ballot, amongst other things.

Registered political parties

Registered Political Parties:

Bloc Québécois Canadian Action Party Communist Party of Canada Conservative Party of Canada Liberal Party of Canada Marijuana Party Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada New Democratic Party The Green Party of Canada

Deregistered Political Parties:

Natural Law Party of Canada

Eligible Political Parties:

Christian Heritage Party Libertarian Party of Canada Progressive Canadian Party

Political Parties who lost their eligibility to become registered:

National Alternative Party of Canada The Ontario Party of Canada Absolutely Absurd Party

(Source: Elections Canada)

The House of Commons at a glance

Distribution of the existing 301 seats at dissolution:

Liberals - 168 Conservatives - 73 Bloc Québécois - 33 NDP - 14 Independent - 9 Vacant - 4

Results of last five elections:

2000: Liberals - 172 Canadian Alliance - 66 Bloc Québécois - 38 NDP- 13 Progressive Conservatives - 12

1997: Liberals - 155 Canadian Alliance - 60 Bloc Québécois - 44 NDP- 21 Progressive Conservatives - 20 Independent - 1

1993: Liberals - 177 Bloc Québécois - 54 Reform Party - 52 NDP - 9 Progressive Conservatives - 2 Independent - 1

1988: Progressive Conservatives - 169 Liberals - 83 NDP- 43

1984: Progressive Conservatives - 211 Liberals - 40 NDP- 30 Independent - 1

(Source: Government of Canada)

Chief Electoral Officer Announces application of Supreme Court decision on third parties

Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley announced on May 18 that the third-party provisions in the Canada Elections Act are once again in force across Canada. Mr. Kingsley's announcement follows a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that the provisions are constitutional.

The Supreme Court allowed the Attorney General of Canada's appeal of the decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Harper v. Canada (Attorney General). The Harper case originally challenged the constitutionality of the third-party provisions.

A third party is a person or group other than a candidate, registered political party or an electoral district association of a registered political party. The following obligations apply to third parties:

- Any third party, immediately upon incurring $500 in election advertising expenses after the issuance of the writ, must register with Elections Canada [s. 353].

- All third parties must identify themselves on their election advertising and state that the ad was authorized by the third party [s. 352].

- Third parties must appoint a financial agent to accept all contributions for election advertising purposes and authorize all election advertising expenses on behalf of the third party [ss. 354, 357].

- Third parties that spend $5,000 or more on election advertising must appoint an auditor [ss. 355, 360].

- Third parties must not use anonymous or foreign funds for their election advertising [ss. 357, 358].

- Third parties will have to report the details of their election advertising expenses within four months after election day [s. 359].

- Third parties must not incur election advertising expenses of a total amount of $168,900 during an election period in relation to a general election, and not more than $3,378 of that amount may be incurred to promote or oppose one or more candidates in a given electoral district [s. 350].

- Third parties must not circumvent or attempt to circumvent the spending limits [s. 351].

- Third parties will have to report who contributed money to the third party for election advertising purposes in the period beginning six months before the issue of the writ and ending on election day [s. 359].

- Third parties, political parties and candidates must not transmit election advertising to the public on election day [s. 323].

For further information on the definitions of "third party" and "election advertising," and other matters relating to third parties, visit Elections Canada's Web site at under "Political Parties, Candidates and Others." In all cases, the wording of the Act, also available on the Web site, takes precedence.

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