Specific Authorities of the Commissioner of Elections

Investigations

The Commissioner's primary responsibility is to conduct investigations into matters which might constitute an offence under The Elections Act (EA) or The Election Financing Act (EFA) and to decide whether or not to institute a prosecution for the alleged offence.

The Commissioner may commence an investigation at his or her own initiative or at the request of another. The Commissioner may refuse to conduct an investigation if he or she considers a request to be frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or unnecessary in the circumstances.

Prosecutions

If the commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that an offence under the EAor the EFA has been committed, and is of the view that the public interest so requires, the commissioner may institute a prosecution for an offence under this Act.

Only the Commissioner is permitted to investigate matters under the EA and the EFA and to institute prosecutions. The deadline for commencing a prosecution under the EAor the EFA is one year after the date on which the Commissioner has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed.

Complaints about government advertising

The Election Financing Act restricts the advertising that can be done by a provincial government department or Crown agency during an election.

The Commissioner of Elections is the individual designated to receive any complaints regarding government advertising.

Other Compliance and Enforcement Tools

Formal cautions

When the Commissioner is of the view that prosecution is not required because an offence was inadvertent or of a technical nature, the Commissioner may issue a formal caution to the body or person alleged to have committed the offence. The Commissioner must make public the name of the person cautioned, a summary of the offence in question and the date the caution was issued.

Compliance agreements

If the commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that a person has committed or is likely to commit an act or omission that could constitute an offence under the EA or the EFA, the commissioner may enter into a compliance agreement, aimed at ensuring compliance. A compliance agreement is a voluntary agreement between the Commissioner and the person, in which the person agrees to terms and conditions necessary to ensure compliance with legislated requirements. The Commissioner makes the contracting party's name, the act or omission and a summary of the compliance agreement public.

Injunctions (during an election period)

If the commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed or is likely to commit an act or omission that is contrary to the EA or the EFA, the commissioner may, during an election period, after taking into account the nature and seriousness of the act or omission, the need to ensure fairness of the electoral process and the public interest, apply to the court for an injunction.