Commissioner of Canada Elections Annual Report 2021

Appendix A – Disposition of Cases

Disposition of cases

  1. Active Files as of Jan 1, 2021

    1. Active files as of December 31, 2021

  2. Files Closed

    1. Files transferred

  3. New Files

      1. Requests for Information
      2. Letters from concerned citizens
      3. Elections Canada
      4. Law Enforcement Agencies
      5. Political Entities
      6. General Public
      7. Commissioner's Initiative

*The difference of 3 active files between the beginning and end of the year (when adding the new files and removing the ones that were closed) can be explained by administrative corrections.

Comparison of the Number of Active Files per Year

Comparison of the Number of Active Files per Year
Fiscal year
Fiscal year
2018-2019* 2020 2021
311 587 1,599 803 1,830

*Reporting covers an extended period between April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019.

Most Common Referrals from Elections Canada

In 2021, the most common referrals from EC were related to the 2019 general election:

  • 552 files were referred as a result of possible irregularities regarding potential instances of individuals voting when not qualified or entitled;
  • 331 files were referred as a result of possible irregularities regarding potential instances of electors requesting a second ballot.

Most Common Potential Contraventions Having Given Rise to Complaints from the Public

  • 111 distinct instances related to influencing or attempting to influence a person to vote or refrain from voting by any pretence or contrivance;
  • 101 distinct instances related to preventing or impairing the transmission of election advertising;
  • 99 distinct instances related taking a photograph or making a video of a ballot or special ballot that has been marked;
  • 63 distinct instances related to the transmission of election advertising on polling day;
  • 60 distinct instances related to the failure of a candidate, registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, to indicate on election advertising that its transmission was authorized (i.e. “tagline”).

Most Common Complaints Related to the 2021 Election Period

The following section provides an overview of the most common complaints received by the Office during the election period itself. The statistics provided in the preceding section relate to the number of complaints received during the entire year. For that reason, in many instances, the statistics provided below are smaller as they represent only the complaints received during the campaign.

What follows is a description of the top five complaints received by alleged violation of the Act. Each category details the total number of complaints received, the number of different fact situations that gave rise to these complaints (“stand-alone issues”), and the number of files closed as of December 31, 2021.

Making or publishing a false statement

  • Stand-alone issues 28
  • Total number of complaints 443

1 case remaining

442 cases closed

Total: 443

443 complaints were received by the CCE alleging false information about a candidate, prospective candidate, leader of a political party or a public figure associated to a political party with the goal of affecting election results. The majority of these complaints were closed as no offence was found.

Preventing or impairing the transmission of election advertising

  • Stand-alone issues 99
  • Total number of complaints 153

71 cases remaining

82 cases closed

Total: 153

Under the Act, it is an offence to prevent or impair the transmission of an election advertising message. Most of the complaints received related to online video footage showing a candidate removing campaign material from a person’s porch. This particular case was resolved through the imposition of an AMP.

Preventing an elector from voting or influencing a person to vote or refrain from voting by any pretence or contrivance

  • Stand-alone issues 111
  • Total number of complaints 115

77 cases remaining

38 cases closed

Total: 115

The CCE received 115 complaints alleging that an elector had been prevented from voting, or that, by pretext or contrivance, a person had influenced or attempted to influence another person to vote or refrain from voting. Out of the 115 complaints on this issue, 29 were linked to the need to wear a mask inside polling stations. In various places throughout the country, individuals were not permitted to enter a polling place if they did not follow the health and safety measures in place.

Showing a marked ballot

  • Stand-alone issues 100
  • Total number of complaints 104

91 cases remaining

13 cases closed

Total: 104

During the election period, the CCE received 66 complaints falling in this category. Most of those were related to circumstances concerning electors posting pictures of their marked ballots on social media. Taking or sharing a photo of a marked ballot is illegal in Canada.

Failure to indicate on election advertising that its transmission was authorized

  • Stand-alone issues 60
  • Total number of complaints 83

53 cases remaining

30 cases closed

Total: 83

The Act requires that advertising contain an authorization or 'tag line' indicating the message is being transmitted with the consent of either the official agent for a particular candidate or the registered agent of the party. The Act does not stipulate how large the font must be or – in the case of a radio broadcast – how quickly the authorization may be spoken.

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