Backgrounder: Fair Elections Act – Respecting Democratic Elections & Defending Freedom of Speech

Respecting Democratic Elections

Members of Parliament and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) sometimes disagree on an MP’s election expense return.  When that happens, the Canada Elections Act provides that the MP can no longer sit or vote in the House of Commons, until the expense return is changed to the CEO’s satisfaction. The removal of a democratically-elected MP reverses the decision of tens of thousands of voters. No one should have the power to reverse a democratic election without first convincing a judge. 

The Fair Elections Act will allow an MP to present the disputed case in the courts and to have judges rule on it, before the CEO seeks the MP’s suspension.  

To avoid long delays in resolving disputes, the MP will have just two weeks to apply to judge to resolve the matter. Courts can treat such cases through an “expedited hearing,” which would allow the case to be heard on a priority basis. The MP could still be removed if the judge determines that he or she has failed to make a necessary correction to the return.

In this way, the Fair Elections Act ensures the CEO and Members of Parliament are clear on their rights and responsibilities under the law. 

Repealing the ban on premature transmission of election results

Our Government is also following through on its commitment to Canadians to repeal the ban on premature transmission of election results in the Fair Elections Act.  This change reflects the ruling of the Supreme Court and our Government’s commitment to upholding every Canadians’ right to freedom of speech.