Commissioner of Canada Elections Annual Report 2022

2022 in numbers

Throughout 2022, the Commissioner and her staff continued to review files related to past elections, primarily 2019 and 2021. These include new files received between January 1 and December 31, 2022, files that were still in progress at the beginning of the year, and referrals from Elections Canada. Information and statistics about these files can be found in the following section of this report.

The work carried out by the Commissioner and her staff is founded on the principles of independence, impartiality and fairness. These fundamental principles contribute to Canadians’ trust in the integrity of Canada’s electoral system.

By its very nature, the electoral process involves various participants and political parties of all stripes interacting in a highly partisan environment. Therefore, it is important – to ensure the integrity of our elections – that the CCE have full independence in both her work and decision-making.

At all times, the Commissioner and her staff act objectively and in good faith, without seeking to favour or disfavour any political party or candidate, or any other person or entity.

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Breakdown of files

The statistics in the following table show the number of files the Commissioner and her staff worked on in 2022.

It is important to note that every complaint or referral made to the office results in a file being opened. In many cases, the Commissioner may receive several complaints, all dealing with the same issue or alleging the same factual situation.

For example, many complainants may contact the office in reaction to the same alleged situation of wrongdoing shared on social media. In that case, the issue would be reviewed as a whole, but the office would open an individual file for each of the complaints received about this situation.

This phenomenon of multiple complaints on the same topic may be due in large part to the use of new means of communication, including social media platforms, which amplify the reach of information and facilitate its transmission on a large scale.

Breakdown of files

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Breakdown of files – January 1 to December 31, 2022

  • Active Files as of as of January 1st 2022: 1,830
  • New Files opened in 2022: 1,597
    • General public: 339
    • Elections Canada: 1,230
    • Political Entities: 24
    • CCE's Initiative: 4
  • Active Files as of December 31st 2022: 1,384
  • Files Closed in 2022: 2,043
    • Transferred to Elections Canada: 33
    • Formal measures: 110
    • Informal measures: 669
    • Not in the public interest to pursue: 572
    • No contravention: 659

When should I complain?

The Commissioner may only examine complaints related to the Act or the Referendum Act. As a result, she cannot respond to complaints under laws that do not fall within her mandate or that are related to electoral legislation at other levels of government. In certain cases, the CCE may deal with an offence under the Criminal Code, if it is closely related to an offence under the Act or the Referendum Act.

To help determine if your complaint falls within the Commissioner’s area of responsibility, please consult the frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the CCE website.

The FAQ contain a wealth of useful information to help you determine if you should file a complaint.

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Referrals from Elections Canada

The Commissioner receives files from Elections Canada, commonly known as referrals. These are files in which Elections Canada, in the course of its work, has detected irregularities or situations of potential non-compliance with the Act, and which are then referred to the Commissioner. These referrals may involve situations such as contraventions of political financing rules or possible illegal voting. Regardless of the issue, all referrals received by the Commissioner are reviewed.

The CCE receives these referrals some time after an electoral event. The Act contains hundreds of financing rules with which political entities must comply. Elections Canada administers these rules and carries out compliance audits. Given the deadlines set out in the Act for filing various political financing reports or documents with Elections Canada, the audit is performed after the election. The length of the audit may also depend on the complexity of the file. As a result, Elections Canada refers files that are deemed non-compliant to the Commissioner well after the election.

In other files that Elections Canada audits, it may also identify irregularities – for example, situations that suggest that a vote may have been cast illegally. When potential wrongdoing is detected in these files, Elections Canada refers them to the Commissioner some time after polling day.

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Most frequently received referrals in 2022

Throughout 2022, CCE staff worked on 1,230 files referred by Elections Canada. These referrals constituted a major part of the work carried out by the office during the reporting period.

Referrals from Elections Canada

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Proportion of referrals in total new files opened in 2022

  • 77% — Referrals from Elections Canada
    • In 2022, the CCE received a total of 1,230 referrals from Elections Canada, which represents 77% of new files opened during the period covered by this report.

  • 23% — New files from other sources
    • During the same period, 367 files were received from various sources, such as the general public and political entities, which represents 23% of new files opened in 2022.

The majority – 796 – of these referrals related to potential contraventions of the Act’s provisions about political financing.

An additional 434 referrals related to possible voting irregularities, pointing to either electors who may have requested a second ballot or individuals who may have voted when they were not entitled to do so.

The CCE reviews these files to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to indicate that there was a contravention of the Act.

Subject of referrals

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Subjects of referrals received in 2022

  • 796 — Political financing
    • In 2022, 65% of referrals received by the CCE concerned potential contraventions of political financing rules
  • 434 — Voting irregularities
    • The remaining 35% of referrals related to files involving possible voting irregularities during an election.

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