POLITICS

Elections Canada's Marc Mayrand Says Rules May Need Revisiting After The Vote

08/11/2015 08:54 EDT | Updated 08/11/2016 05:59 EDT

Canada's chief electoral officer says he may want to tweak election rules after voters head to the polls in October.

"It's the first time we have a fixed-date election in this country," Marc Mayrand said in an interview Tuesday on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. "I think we're finding all sorts of things around fixed-date elections."

The NDP and Liberal Party have already raised concerns about the duration of the campaign and new spending rules which they claim favour the cash-rich Conservatives.

Mayrand said the rules have been set for some time now and are meant, in principle, to apply in the same way for all parties.

"After the election I'll do a report to Parliament and likely raise some issues around the matters that flow from having a fixed date and maybe the need to look at the rules again and see how we can adjust them," Mayrand told Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton.

Caught off guard by long campaign

The fixed date meant Elections Canada could prepare for an Oct. 19 vote — but the early start to the campaign came as a surprise.

"We get heads up about the same time the media release is issued," said Mayrand. "That's when we learned about it."

The agency had planned to open its election offices in September, but had to accelerate that timetable when Stephen Harper launched the 78-day campaign on Aug. 2.

"For example, we had to find 480 offices last week and sign off as many leases as there are offices," said Mayrand. "We got all the leases done and we're shipping the equipment as we speak and it should be fully installed by the end of the week."

Mayrand said that in the first 10 days of the campaign, Elections Canada has seen about 95,000 interactions on it website, including:

  • 13,000 people registering to vote for the first time.
  • 5,000 changes of address.
  • Thousands of other queries about voter registration.
  • Elections Canada had estimated this year's campaign would cost375 million — up more than 28 per cent from the292 million spent on the 2011 election — but that figure was based on a campaign of around 37 days.

Mayrand said the cost won't double, but the agency will have to pay extra rent for each returning office and pay staff for the longer campaign. Elections Canada is still figuring out a new price estimate.

"We're in that process," he said. "But meanwhile, we're focused on running the election."

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