Bill 49: A First Step in Updating Municipal Democracy

April 26, 2021

On April 22, 2021, the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Pierre Reid, participated in the particular consultations on Bill 49, An Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act and various legislative provisions.

Mr. Reid said the bill echoes several reviews conducted by Élections Québec and the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation following the 2017 municipal general elections. Therefore, he is in favour of the proposed legislative amendments to municipal democracy. He took the opportunity to present suggestions for improvement to the bill. Those improvements are outlined in the brief he submitted for the occasion.

The Chief Electoral Officer concluded his address by expressing the wish that MNA members continue to update the electoral legislation, this bill being a foundation on which to build to advance municipal democracy practices.

Innovations proposed by Bill 49

Electorally, the bill assigns, as of 2025, to the Chief Electoral Officer the responsibility to:

  • Ensure the application of certain rules relating to electoral polls, electoral ethics and electoral posting. His current responsibilities relate to political financing, investigations and prosecution of offences under the
  • Provide a framework for the work of returning officers, which would foster their independence with relation to candidates and elected municipal officials. Returning officers could count on the support of the team of Élections Québec, a neutral and independent institution, to avoid the risk of political or partisan influence during the electoral process.

The independence of returning officers is even more important given that, under the bill, they could now refuse to accept a person as a candidate if the candidacy does not meet the requirements of the Act (for example, if the person does not meet the eligibility requirements).

In addition, the bill provides for the introduction of two new voting procedures in municipal elections:

  • Voting at the office of the returning officer.
  • Voting at the domicile of the elector who is unable to move about for health reasons.

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Categories : Municipal financing, DGE

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