Thursday, 15 May 2014

Fw: ATTN Elections Canada Commissioner Yves Côté Perhaps we should talk ASAP? My number is 902 800 0369 Please leave a message on my MagicJack and I will get back to you

On Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:18 PM, David Amos <myson333@yahoo.com> wrote:

Senior Officers for Disclosure of wrongdoing

Senior officers for Disclosure are responsible for the implementation of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) in their respective organizations. For example, Senior Officers investigate and make recommendations to deputy heads on allegations of wrongdoing in the workplace. See below for list of senior officers.
Are you looking for a different list? Try one of the following: 

Yves Côté
Commissioner of Canada Elections
257 Slater Canada
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0M6
Telephone: 613-998-4051
Email: yves.cote@elections.ca

Vol. 148, No. 7 — February 15, 2014

PARLIAMENT

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Second Session, Forty-First Parliament

PRIVATE BILLS

Standing Order 130 respecting notices of intended applications for private bills was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 19, 2013.
For further information, contact the Private Members' Business Office, House of Commons, Centre Block, Room 134-C, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6, 613-992-6443.
AUDREY O'BRIEN
Clerk of the House of Commons

COMMISSIONER OF CANADA ELECTIONS

CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

Compliance agreement

This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 521 of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (hereafter referred to as the "Act").
On March 22, 2013, and pursuant to section 517 of the Act, the Commissioner of Canada Elections entered into a compliance agreement with E. Cummings Contracting Inc. (hereafter referred to as the "Contracting Party"), of the town of Woodstock, in the county of Carleton, in the province of New Brunswick.
In the compliance agreement, the Contracting Party has acknowledged that
  • Pursuant to subsection 404(1) and paragraphs 497(1)(i) and 497(3)(f.1) of the Act, it is an offence under the Act for a person or entity other than an individual to make a contribution, whether monetary or non-monetary, to a candidate's campaign.
  • The Contracting Party provided, free of charge, time and labour of two of its employees for a period involving less than 10 hours, during working hours, as well as storage in its warehouse, for the purpose of the construction, transportation and installation of election signs for the 2011 electoral campaign of Mr. Chuck Chiasson, Liberal candidate in the electoral district of Tobique—Mactaquac, at an estimated value of less than $1,000.
  • The provision of these services at no charge to a candidate's electoral campaign constitutes a non-monetary contribution to a candidate by an entity other than an individual, and could constitute an offence under the Act.
The Contracting Party accepted responsibility for these acts.
Prior to the conclusion of the compliance agreement, the Commissioner of Canada Elections took into account that the Contracting Party promptly admitted the facts and took responsibility for the acts that led to the compliance agreement.
The compliance agreement contained a term requiring the Contracting Party to post a copy of the compliance agreement at its business in a conspicuous location where the agreement would be readily visible to its employees. The Contracting Party has complied with the terms and conditions of the compliance agreement.
Ottawa, January 31, 2014
YVES CÔTÉ, Q.C.
Commissioner of Canada Elections
[7-1-o]

COMMISSIONER OF CANADA ELECTIONS

CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

Compliance agreement

This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 521 of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (hereafter referred to as the "Act").
On October 24, 2013, and pursuant to section 517 of the Act, the Commissioner of Canada Elections entered into a compliance agreement with Mr. Aly Salim Hirji (hereafter referred to as the "Contracting Party"), of the city of Toronto, in the province of Ontario. The Contracting Party was the financial agent of Theodore John Opitz, a contestant in the 2008 Conservative Party of Canada nomination contest in the electoral district of Mississauga South (the "2008 Opitz nomination campaign"), and remains the financial agent of the contestant under the terms of the Act.
The compliance agreement between the Commissioner and Mr. Hirji includes provisions related both to Mr. Hirji as the Contracting Party and to his assistance to Mr. Opitz in carrying out a separate compliance agreement.

Filing requirement for nomination campaign return

The Contracting Party has acknowledged that paragraph 478.23(1)(a) of the Act requires that a financial agent of a nomination contestant who has accepted contributions of $1,000 or more in total, or has incurred nomination campaign expenses of $1,000 or more in total, provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a nomination campaign return in the prescribed form.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that he is now aware that the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign received $9,000 in contributions from Mr. Opitz and incurred nomination campaign expenses in an amount that exceeded $1,000, and that the criteria triggering the requirement to submit a return were met. He further acknowledged that he did not provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a campaign return for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign, as required by paragraph 478.23(1)(a) of the Act.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged and has accepted responsibility for this omission, and is now aware of paragraph 478.23(1)(a) and the offence provision at paragraph 497(1)(z.28) of the Act.

Receipt of contributions exceeding contributor's personal contribution limit

The Contracting Party acknowledges that he is aware that nomination contestant Theodore John Opitz contributed $9,000 to the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign, an amount $6,900 in excess of the 2008 contribution limit of $2,100 applicable to an individual who is a nomination contestant. The Contracting Party acknowledges that no return or remittance of any of the excess portion of the contribution was made and that the original nomination campaign bank account was closed in November 2008.
In addition, the Contracting Party has acknowledged that section 405.4 of the Act requires that a financial agent, within 30 days of becoming aware of a contribution to a nomination campaign that was made in contravention of a limit under subsection 405(1), either return the contribution unused to the contributor or, if that is not possible, pay the amount in excess of the contribution limit to the Chief Electoral Officer, who shall remit it to the Receiver General.
The Contracting Party has also acknowledged that, in a separate compliance agreement, Mr. Opitz has agreed to use his very best efforts to enable the Contracting Party to remit to the Receiver General the greatest possible portion of the amount of $6,900, being the portion of Mr. Opitz's contributions that exceeded the contribution limits in the Act.
Under the compliance agreement, the Contracting Party agrees to
  • request and readily receive from Mr. Opitz a list of expenses with supporting information in relation to expenses incurred by Mr. Opitz for his 2008 nomination campaign, information on nomination campaign contributions made or received by Mr. Opitz for that campaign, and information on any debits made by him to the campaign bank account;
  • provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a campaign return for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign by December 2, 2013, that meets the following criteria: to the fullest extent possible, includes the items required for a nomination campaign return described in section 478.23 of the Act; is correct and complete as to the last known transaction for the nomination campaign predating the signing of the agreement; and reports, in particular, the total contribution of $9,000 made by Mr. Opitz to his 2008 nomination campaign;
  • report an explanation for any absence of records or absence of supporting information for any financial transaction reported in the return;
  • review the return, provide a declaration as to the completeness and accuracy of the return, and ask Mr. Opitz to do the same;
  • open a new campaign bank account for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign, to receive and deposit therein any new contributions received, and provide to the Chief Electoral Officer from that bank account, for payment to the Receiver General, the greatest possible portion of the amount of $6,900, being the amount contributed by Mr. Opitz to his nomination campaign in excess of the contribution limits;
  • inform any persons who wish to make an eligible contribution to the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign that their contribution must be provided to the Contracting Party, so that the Contracting Party may deposit the contribution in the new nomination campaign bank account and provide a receipt to the contributor;
  • provide periodic updates to the Chief Electoral Officer reporting the deposit of money into, or the payment of money out of, the new nomination campaign bank account. The first update report will be filed after the three-month period following the signing of the compliance agreement, in the form of an update to the nomination campaign return, and will indicate the contributions received by the nomination campaign and any payment provided to the Chief Electoral Officer for remittance to the Receiver General;
  • file a final report either following the remittance of the amount of $6,900 to the Chief Electoral Officer or, in any event, within 30 days of the end of the six-month period following the signing of the compliance agreement. The final report shall set out the amount of any excess contributions not yet provided to the Chief Electoral Officer or the surplus amount remitted pursuant to section 478.41 of the Act; and
  • collaborate with Mr. Opitz as necessary in order to provide the update reports and the final report.
The Contracting Party acknowledges that the nomination campaign return and updates are subject to audit by the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and will be posted on the Elections Canada Web site as submitted.
The Commissioner agrees that the fulfillment of the undertakings in the agreement by the Contracting Party will constitute compliance with the agreement.
Ottawa, February 3, 2014
YVES CÔTÉ, Q.C.
Commissioner of Canada Elections
[7-1-o]

COMMISSIONER OF CANADA ELECTIONS

CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

Compliance agreement

This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 521 of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9 (hereafter referred to as the "Act").
On October 24, 2013, and pursuant to section 517 of the Act, the Commissioner of Canada Elections entered into a compliance agreement with Mr. Theodore John Opitz (hereafter referred to as the "Contracting Party"), of the city of Toronto, in the province of Ontario. The Contracting Party was a nomination contestant in the 2008 Conservative Party of Canada nomination contest in the electoral district of Mississauga South (the "2008 Opitz nomination campaign") and remains a nomination contestant under the definition of that term in the Act.
The compliance agreement between the Commissioner and Mr. Opitz includes provisions related both to Mr. Opitz as the Contracting Party and to his assistance to his financial agent, Mr. Aly Salim Hirji, in carrying out a separate compliance agreement.

Filing requirement for nomination campaign return

The Contracting Party has acknowledged contributing $9,000 to the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign and to incurring nomination contest expenses in an amount that exceeded $1,000. The Contracting Party acknowledges that information relating to these expenses was not, at the relevant time, in the possession of or under the control of his financial agent, Mr. Hirji.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that no nomination campaign return was provided to the Chief Electoral Officer by Mr. Hirji, despite the requirement under paragraph 478.23(1)(a) of the Act that such a return shall be filed where a nomination contestant receives contributions over $1,000 or incurs expenses over $1,000.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that he is aware of the terms of a compliance agreement entered into by his financial agent, Mr. Hirji, namely that Mr. Hirji agrees to do the following: provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a campaign return for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign, correct and complete as to the last known transaction for that campaign; provide updates to the Chief Electoral Officer; and, following the remittance of the amount of $6,900 to the Chief Electoral Officer or, in any event, within 30 days of the end of the six-month period following the signing of the compliance agreement, file a final report.

Contributions exceeding personal contribution limit

The Contracting Party has acknowledged that, under the terms of the Act applicable to a nomination contest occurring in 2008, namely paragraphs 405(1)(a.1) and 405(4)(a) and section 405.1, a nomination contestant may not contribute in excess of $2,100 to his or her nomination campaign in that calendar year.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that his contribution of $9,000 to the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign resulted in a contribution of $6,900 in excess of the allowable contribution limit and that this act could constitute an offence under paragraph 497(3)(f.13) of the Act.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged and has accepted responsibility for this act, and is now aware of paragraphs 405(1)(a.1) and 405(4)(a), section 405.1 and the offence provision at paragraph 497(3)(f.13) of the Act.
The Contracting Party has acknowledged that section 405.4 of the Act requires a financial agent, within 30 days of becoming aware of a contribution to a nomination contestant that was made in contravention of a limit under subsection 405(1), to either return the contribution unused to the contributor or, if that is not possible, to pay the amount of the contribution to the Chief Electoral Officer, who shall remit it to the Receiver General.
The Contracting Party is aware that Mr. Hirji has entered into a separate compliance agreement with the Commissioner of Canada Elections, and that a term of that agreement is for Mr. Hirji to open a new campaign bank account for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign.
In addition, the Contracting Party is aware that Mr. Hirji has agreed to provide to the Chief Electoral Officer from the new nomination campaign bank account, for payment to the Receiver General, the greatest possible portion of the amount of $6,900, being the portion of the amounts contributed by the Contracting Party in 2008 that exceeded the contribution limits in the Act.
Under the compliance agreement, the Contracting Party agrees to
  • use all best efforts to obtain and provide to Mr. Hirji a list of expenses incurred by the Contracting Party and supporting information documenting these expenses, as well as information relating to nomination campaign contributions made or received by the Contracting Party;
  • produce by November 15, 2013, all information and documentation in his possession relating to all financial transactions communicated to Mr. Hirji, and, where supporting information or documentation is unavailable, provide an explanation for the absence of supporting information or documentation;
  • collaborate with Mr. Hirji to enable Mr. Hirji to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with a campaign return for the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign by December 2, 2013, correct and complete as to the last known transaction for the campaign predating the signing of the agreement;
  • review the return and provide a declaration as to the completeness and accuracy of the return;
  • use his very best efforts to enable the financial agent to remit to the Chief Electoral Officer the greatest possible portion of the amount of $6,900, being the amount in excess of the contribution limits;
  • inform any persons who wish to make an eligible contribution to the 2008 Opitz nomination campaign that their contribution must be provided to Mr. Hirji, the Contracting Party's financial agent, so that Mr. Hirji may deposit the contribution in the new nomination campaign bank account and provide a receipt to the contributor; and
  • collaborate with Mr. Hirji to provide reports detailing the deposit or withdrawal of money into or from the new campaign bank account following the signing of the agreement. The first report shall be filed after the three-month period following the signing of the agreement. A final report shall be filed following either the remittance of the amount of $6,900 to the Chief Electoral Officer or, in any event, within 30 days of the end of the six-month period following the signing of the agreement.
The Contracting Party acknowledges that the nomination campaign return and updates are subject to audit by the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and will be posted on the Elections Canada Web site as submitted.
The Commissioner agrees that the fulfillment of the undertakings in the agreement by the Contracting Party will constitute compliance with the agreement.
Ottawa, February 3, 2014
YVES CÔTÉ, Q.C.
Commissioner of Canada Elections

Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Appoints
New Commissioner of Canada Elections

OTTAWA, Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Mr. Marc Mayrand, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Yves Côté as Commissioner of Canada Elections. Mr. Côté's tenure begins on July 3, 2012.
Mr. Côté, who has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1977 and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992, has an extensive background in administrative and constitutional law in the federal public service. In 2003, Mr. Côté served as Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council, as well as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet – Legislation and House Planning. From 2005 to 2008, he was Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. In 2008, Mr. Côté became the Associate Deputy Minister of Justice with the Department of Justice Canada, a position from which he recently announced his retirement.
"It is with great pleasure that I welcome Mr. Côté as the new Commissioner of Canada Elections," said Mr. Mayrand. "Mr. Côté's extensive legal experience and great commitment to the public service will be invaluable to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. He will provide continued leadership in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process and in maintaining public confidence in our electoral system."
Mr. Côté will be replacing Mr. William Corbett who is retiring as Commissioner of Canada Elections following an exemplary legal career that has spanned more than 40 years, during which time he developed a broad expertise in all aspects of federal prosecution and criminal law matters. Since his appointment as Commissioner in 2006, Mr. Corbett has provided valued leadership in ensuring effective compliance and enforcement of the Canada Elections Act measures, and has greatly contributed to maintaining public confidence in the oversight of electoral administration.
"I would like to thank Mr. Corbett for his expertise and professionalism in exercising his duties as Commissioner," said Mr. Mayrand. "His dedication to democratic values and to due process ensured that Canadians were well-served during his tenure. His retirement is well-deserved following such a distinguished career."
Prior to his appointment to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, Mr. Corbett was a practicing lawyer and litigator for 35 years. He held the position of Senior General Counsel in charge of the criminal law section of the Federal Prosecution Service at the Department of Justice.
"Following my retirement from the Department of Justice, I welcomed the opportunity to continue to serve Canadians as Commissioner of Canada Elections," said Mr. Corbett. "I am proud of the role my office has played over the past six years in ensuring the provisions of the Canada Elections Act were complied with and enforced."
More information regarding the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections is available on the Elections Canada website.
Vote. Shape your world.
Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.
Information:
Elections Canada Media Relations
1-877-877-9515
or at Élections Canada en ligne - Elections Canada On-line

Responsible Minister

Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Senior officials responsible for implementing Section 41 of the OLA

  • Associate Deputy Minister of Justice and Official Languages Champion
    Yves Côté
    284 Wellington Street
    Room EMB -4175
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
    Tel: 613-941-4073
    Fax: 613-941-4074
    yves.cote@justice.gc.ca

  • Chief Legislative Counsel and Official Languages Co-Champion
    John Mark Keyes
    284 Wellington Street
    Room SAT -7123
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
    Tel: 613-954-5786
    Fax: 613-952-4080
    john-mark.keyes@justice.gc.ca

  • General Counsel and Director
    Suzanne Poirier
    284 Wellington Street
    Room SAT -5014
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
    Tel: 613-952-1119
    Fax: 613-946-3106
    suzanne.poirier@justice.gc.ca

  • Senior Counsel and Manager
    Andrée Duchesne
    284 Wellington Street
    Room SAT -5020
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
    Tel: 613-954-7233
    Fax: 613-946-3106
    andree.duchesne@justice.gc.ca

National Coordinator responsible for the implementation of Section 41

  • Parnel Dugas
    Senior Policy Analyst
    284 Wellington Street
    Room SAT -5023
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8
    Tel: 613-954-3723
    Fax: 613-946-3106
    parnel.dugas@justice.gc.ca

Regional Coordinators

  • British Columbia
    Mélanie Chartier
    Counsel
    Aboriginal Law Section, Advisory Services Group
    1138 Melville Street
    Room 1500
    Vancouver, BC V6E 4S3
    Tel: 604-666-3813
    Fax: 604-666-3097
    melanie.chartier@justice.gc.ca

  • Alberta
    Michele Vincent
    Counsel
    Civil Litigation and Advisory Services
    211 Bank of Montreal Building
    10199 101st Street
    Edmonton, AB T5J 3Y4
    Tel: 780-495-4071
    Fax: 780-495-6300
    michele.vincent@justice.gc.ca

  • Saskatchewan
    Daryl Schatz
    Regional Director and General Counsel
    Civil Litigation and Advisory Services
    Prairie Region
    123 2nd Avenue South
    10th Floor
    Saskatoon, SK S7K 7E6
    Tel: 306-975-5190
    Fax: 306-975-6240
    daryl.schatz@justice.gc.ca

  • Manitoba
    Julien Bédard
    Counsel
    Tax Litigation
    Centennial House
    310 Broadway Avenue
    Room 301
    Winnipeg, MB R3C 0S6
    Tel: 204-983-0984
    Fax: 204-984-5434
    julien.bedard@justice.gc.ca

  • Ontario
    Diane Dagenais
    Assistant Regional Director and Senior Counsel
    Ontario Regional Office
    Exchange Tower
    130 King Street West
    Room 3400
    Toronto, ON M5X 1K6
    Tel: 416-973-9711
    Fax: 416-954-8982
    diane.dagenais@justice.gc.ca

  • Quebec
    Kim Sheppard
    Counsel
    Tax Litigation
    Complexe Guy-Favreau
    200 René-Lévesque Blvd. West
    East Tower, 9th Floor
    Montreal, QC H2Z 1X4
    Tel: 514-283-8460
    Fax: 514-283-8427
    kim.sheppard@justice.gc.ca

  • Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward
    Island, Newfoundland and Labrador

    Kim Duggan
    Legal Counsel
    Atlantic Regional Office
    Duke Tower
    5251 Duke Street
    Room 1400
    Halifax, NS B3J 1P3
    Tel: 902-426-9104
    Fax: 902-426-8796
    kim.duggan@justice.gc.ca

  • Yukon
    Maegan Hough
    Counsel
    Yukon Office
    62, 3rd Avenue
    Room 200
    Whitehorse, YT Y1A 1G3
    Tel: 867-667-3992
    Fax: 867-667-3934
    maegan.hough@justice.gc.ca

  • Northwest Territories and Nunavut
    Jason Steele
    Legal Counsel
    Northwest Territories Office
    5020 - 48th Street
    Joe Tobie Building
    3rd Floor, P.O. Box 8
    Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N1
    Tel: 867-920-6008
    Fax: 867-920-6025
    jason.steele@justice.gc.ca

Commissioner of Canada Elections Announces the Laying of
Canada Elections Act Charges

Ottawa, May 3, 2013
  • The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Mr. Yves Côté, has announced that pursuant to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, his office has laid charges under the Canada Elections Act.
  • The charges were filed on April 30, 2013 in the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary. The accused will appear before the court on June 17, 2013.
  • Amandeep Gill, the official agent of a candidate, is charged with two counts: one count of having failed to provide to the Chief Electoral Officer, for the federal general election held on October 14, 2008, an electoral campaign return, substantially in the prescribed form, on the financing and expenses for the candidate's electoral campaign, as required under section 451 of the Canada Elections Act, and one count of having wilfully failed to provide said electoral campaign return, as required under section 451 of the Act.
  • These counts constitute offences under paragraphs 497(1)(u) and 497(3)(r), respectively, of the Act.
  • The Commissioner of Canada Elections is responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner under the Canada Elections Act.

For information specific to this matter:

Public Prosecution Service of Canada Media Relations
613-954-7803
or at www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca
General information:
Elections Canada Media Relations
1-877-877-9515
or at http://www.elections.ca/

Elections commissioner wants power to compel testimony from witnesses

Yves Cote wants power to compel testimony from witnesses
In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 18, 2006, Yves Cote addresses reporters at a news conference in Ottawa.(CP / Jonathan Hayward)

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Text:

Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, April 2, 2014 7:40AM EDT
OTTAWA -- The man who investigates electoral fraud in Canada says some investigations will simply "abort" if he isn't given the power to compel testimony from witnesses.
Yves Cote, the commissioner of elections, provided another direct critique of the Conservative government's electoral reform bill in testimony to a parliamentary committee Tuesday evening.
The bill makes sweeping changes to how elections are conducted and funded by provides Elections Canada with no new powers to investigate problems.
The chief elections investigator refused to discuss any specific cases, including the ongoing investigation into fraudulent robocalls in the 2011 election, but said unco-operative witnesses have been a real issue in his 20 months on the job.
"There have indeed been cases -- a number of them -- where in the performance of our investigative powers we have come across people who had information relevant to our investigations who simply refused to talk to us," said Cote.
"That has happened more than once -- including in matters of some significance," he added, after a pregnant pause.
Pressed for details, Cote would only say "some investigations will abort because of our inability to get at the facts."
Cote also told MPs on the committee the government is making a mistake by separating his office from Elections Canada and housing it with the Director of Public Prosecutions, which answers to cabinet.
The separation, he said, will slow down investigations, create communication problems, and goes against principles established by regulatory bodies such as the Canada Revenue Agency, the Competition Bureau and the Canada Border Services Agency.
Cote says he was never consulted on the proposed move.
"So more costly, less prosecutions is a very likely scenario -- and the public loss of confidence in terms of the independence of your office," summarized Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux.
Conservative MP Erin O'Toole asked Cote whether his office would benefit from "a public confidence standpoint" by being independently housed from Elections Canada.
"I don't," Cote flatly responded, insisting he's already independent and if Parliament wants to reinforce that fact it can simply add a clear statement to the existing Elections Act.
Bill C-23, dubbed the Fair Elections Act by the Harper government, has been roundly criticized by current and former chief electoral officers, elections experts in Canada and abroad and by newspaper editorials across the country.
Cote's testimony was eagerly anticipated because the Conservatives insist they are giving him new independence by moving Elections Canada's enforcement arm into a separate bureaucracy overseen by the attorney general, a cabinet minister.
His assessment was bolstered by William Corbett, who served as commissioner of elections from 2006 to 2012.
Corbett told the committee that removing the commissioner from Elections Canada would do nothing to enhance his independence, but would hurt the oversight of federal election campaigns.
He noted that no one, up until now, has commented on the crucial role the elections investigators under the commissioner play during the 35-day campaigns, chasing down issues on behalf of Elections Canada.
That role would end under the Fair Elections Act, and there's no one else to pick it up, said Corbett.
After a 40-year career in policing and investigations, Corbett also said putting investigators in the Public Prosecutors Office is not a good fit.
"Prosecutors generally want to take an independent view of an investigation after it's completed. In fact, the less they have to do with the investigators beforehand, the better."
He said his experience was that "significant voter fraud," which Bill C-23 hopes to address, is not taking place -- and indeed the 60 per cent of Canadian electors who routinely cast a ballot are typically very serious and conscientious.
But he lamented the "adversarial context" that's been injected into the elections process in recent years and the fact party workers have begun refusing to co-operate with Elections Canada.
Corbett made a number of references to the ongoing robocalls investigation that began under his watch before he retired in 2012.
"I don't want to dwell on roboballs too much, but we had no idea what can be done on the Internet by way of triggering 100,000 calls for a very small price. I don't know what's coming next," Corbett concluded with a rueful laugh.

Read more: Elections commissioner wants power to compel testimony from witnesses

Elections Canada commissioner calls for more powers

 

Commissioner Yves Côté currently can't compel witnesses to talk

By Karina Roman, CBC News Posted: Oct 01, 2013 5:33 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 01, 2013 7:17 PM ET
Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté released his first annual report Tuesday, urging changes to the Canada Elections Act.
Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté released his first annual report Tuesday, urging changes to the Canada Elections Act. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)


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Yves Côté, the commissioner of Canada Elections, is calling on the federal government to give him the power to compel people to provide information relevant to investigations.
Côté released his first annual report as commissioner on Tuesday.
In it, he argues his office lacks investigative tools and that he needs the power to apply to a judge for an order to force witnesses to talk.
"It regularly happens, in the course of our investigations, that we approach individuals who we know will have information relevant to a file we are working on, only to be told that they do not wish to talk to us — they refuse to say anything," Côté wrote in his report.
The commissioner also says that out of the more than 400 different offences under the Canada Elections Act, many are regulatory in nature, yet the only way to impose sanctions is to launch a full prosecution.
"To prosecute a case is an expensive and lengthy proposition," the report said. "For that reason, prosecutions are reserved for the most serious breaches and are ill-suited for the majority of situations."
Since the robocalls scandal broke in the news, Elections Canada has been under increased scrutiny over its investigations and the results of those investigations.
There has been one charge filed in April in relation to the robocalls case, when automated phone calls misdirected voters to the wrong polling stations in Guelph, Ont.
As well, just last Thursday, Elections Canada announced charges against Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro for overspending in the 2008 election and for allegedly trying to cover it up.
And earlier this year, three Conservative MPs got in a protracted fight with Elections Canada over their 2011 election expenses, after the election agency tried to force them to correct their spending files, using the threat of barring them from the House until they made the changes.
Thursday's report highlights other challenges facing the commissioner, including the task of balancing the need to be transparent about what the office is doing and the need to protect the confidentiality of investigations. Investigations are also becoming more complex, both legally and technologically.
Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, said the government had received the com


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