Commissioner of Canada Elections Annual Report 2022
Message from the Commissioner
Serving Canadians as Commissioner of Canada Elections is an immense privilege. My mandate had barely begun when a period of profound transformation began to unfold for our office, heralding what will no doubt be the start of significant changes for years to come. Recent shifts in the public environment have highlighted the resilience of my team, and I would like to extend my warmest thanks to every one of them for their admirable work and for their unfailing commitment to the service of our country's democracy.
2022 was also a year of transition for the office, as my appointment as Commissioner of Canada Elections marked the end of the mandate of my predecessor, Yves Côté, who dedicated 10 years to this organization. Since he handed over the reins to me, I have discovered that integrity is deeply rooted in the organization’s DNA. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm thanks to him for his dedication and sense of public service, which have greatly contributed to the organization's reputation.
"Protecting the integrity of our electoral system, and the trust Canadians place in it, is – and will continue to be – at the heart of our compliance and enforcement work."
Today, as part of my first annual report, I would like to present the key elements that make up the roadmap for the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections for the next decade.
Protecting the integrity of our electoral system, and the trust Canadians place in it, is – and will continue to be – at the heart of our compliance and enforcement work. This ongoing commitment revolves around the rigorous application of the law to every decision rendered, whether it involves laying criminal charges, imposing administrative monetary penalties, or issuing caution letters. What's more, these responsibilities conferred on me will be reinforced every day through a culture of excellence that places Canadians at the centre of our actions.
Like other countries, Canada has witnessed the extent to which allegations of foreign interference can undermine public confidence in democracy and in the institutions that uphold it. This underscores the importance both of our mission and of the need for us to remain vigilant. So, it is with the public interest in mind that I announced that my office is currently conducting a review into allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 general elections. This issue will be addressed in greater detail later in the report.
The question of public confidence in an organization such as ours comes at a time when our democratic system is being challenged by various threats emanating from the digital sphere and globalization. Disinformation spread via social networks has already worked its way into the electoral ecosystem. Other challenges are also expected to come about that may have a profound impact on the way my mandate is carried out. The advances in artificial intelligence, which could undermine the integrity of the electoral process, and the use of cryptocurrencies to finance political activities, to name but two examples, are challenges that lie ahead and that we are preparing to face.
The unique nature of our office and our expertise places us at the forefront of election law compliance and enforcement. However, our work is limited in scope to what is provided for in the Canada Elections Act (the Act). Working in close collaboration with partners and stakeholders, where everyone plays their part while respecting each other’s specific responsibilities, is therefore essential. To meet the challenges that the future may bring, particular attention will also need to be paid to optimize the collaborative work already undertaken, and to expand existing partnerships and networks.
The responsibilities entrusted to me also bring with them a fresh perspective on the Act, which will guide the development of new recommendations designed to ensure greater protections for our electoral system in a rapidly changing environment. Among the recommendations I intend to make is to broaden the scope of the powers of the administrative regime to take greater advantage of its inherent agility and increase our ability to respond more effectively to the challenges of the 21st century.
It would be impossible for us to do our work without the contribution of Canadians, who are our eyes and ears on the ground. This makes it even more important to reach out to them in their own communities, through social networking platforms or through the interactions my office has with them every day.
We know we will continue to face many challenges in the months and years ahead, and the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections will continue to equip itself to meet them. We look forward to continuing to serve Canadians and protecting our democracy by being worthy of the trust placed in us.
Caroline J. Simard
Commissioner of Canada Elections