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Referendum Act (S.C. 1992, c. 30)

Full Document:  

Act current to 2024-05-28 and last amended on 2023-04-27. Previous Versions

Referendum Broadcasts

Marginal note:Provision of free broadcasting time

  •  (1) In the period beginning on Thursday, the eighteenth day before polling day, and ending on the second day before polling day, every network operator

    • (a) that reaches the majority of those Canadians whose mother tongue is the same as that in which the network broadcasts,

    • (b) that is licensed with respect to more than a particular series of programs or type of programming, and

    • (c) that does not involve any distribution undertaking within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act,

    shall, subject to the regulations made pursuant to that Act and to the conditions imposed on it under section 9.1 of that Act, make available, at no cost, to registered referendum committees for the transmission of referendum announcements and other programming produced by or on behalf of those committees an aggregate of three hours of broadcasting time during prime time.

  • Marginal note:Determination of population reached

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a network is deemed to reach

    • (a) people resident within those areas served by broadcasting stations affiliated to the network that

      • (i) in the case of A.M. radio stations, are enclosed by the night-time interference-free official contour of the stations,

      • (ii) in the case of F.M. radio stations, are enclosed by the fifty microvolt per metre official contour of the stations, and

      • (iii) in the case of television stations, are enclosed by the Grade B official contour of the stations; and

    • (b) people resident outside the areas described in paragraph (a) to whom the signals of broadcasting stations affiliated to the network are available via distribution undertakings licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Marginal note:Allocation of free broadcasting time

  •  (1) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, before Sunday, the twenty-second day before polling day, allocate the broadcasting time to be made available under section 21 among the registered referendum committees that are entitled to be considered for the allocation, in such manner that the time is allocated equally to committees that support the referendum question and committees that oppose it.

  • Marginal note:Committees entitled to be considered

    (2) A registered referendum committee is entitled to be considered for the allocation of broadcasting time if it

    • (a) applied for registration under section 13 before Tuesday, the twenty-seventh day before polling day;

    • (b) indicated in the application that it wishes to be considered for the allocation, on which network it wishes the time to be made available to it and whether it supports or opposes the referendum question; and

    • (c) paid a deposit of five hundred dollars in legal tender or a certified cheque made payable to the Receiver General.

  • Marginal note:Criteria

    (3) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall allocate broadcasting time in a manner that is fair to all the registered referendum committees entitled to be considered for the allocation and that is not contrary to the public interest, and, in considering the allocation of broadcasting time to a particular registered referendum committee, the Broadcasting Arbitrator shall consider whether

    • (a) the committee represents a significant regional or national interest;

    • (b) allocation to the committee would be equitable having regard to the different views expressed on the referendum question; and

    • (c) the referendum announcements and other programming proposed by the committee would be directly related to the referendum question.

  • Marginal note:Additional information

    (4) In order to allocate broadcasting time, the Broadcasting Arbitrator may request additional information from any registered referendum committee entitled to be considered for the allocation.

  • Marginal note:Notification

    (5) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, as soon as possible after completing the allocation and, in any event, not later than Monday, the twenty-first day before polling day, send a notice in writing of the allocation to every registered referendum committee considered for the allocation, every network affected by the allocation and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

  • Marginal note:Deposits

    (6) The deposit paid by a registered referendum committee entitled to be considered for an allocation of broadcasting time

    • (a) shall be returned to the committee, if it is not allocated time or uses all the time allocated to it; or

    • (b) is forfeited to Her Majesty in right of Canada, if the committee does not use all the time allocated to it.

  • Marginal note:Allocation binding

    (7) An allocation of broadcasting time to be made available by a broadcasting network is final and binding on the network and on all registered referendum committees entitled to be considered for the allocation.

Marginal note:Information to registered referendum committees

 The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, on request, provide all registered referendum committees that are entitled to be considered for the allocation of broadcasting time with the names and addresses of all network operators.

Marginal note:Free time not referendum expense

  •  (1) The commercial value of any free broadcasting time made available to a registered referendum committee under section 21 shall be deemed not to be a referendum expense.

  • Marginal note:Free time not commercial time

    (2) Despite subsection 21(1), the Broadcasting Act, any regulations made under that Act and any conditions imposed on a network operator under section 9.1 of that Act, free broadcasting time shall not be considered to be commercial time.

Marginal note:Notice of preference

  •  (1) Each registered referendum committee to which free broadcasting time is allocated shall, not later than Tuesday, the twentieth day before polling day, send to each network operator that is to provide the time a notice in writing of the days and hours when the committee wishes the time to be made available to it.

  • Marginal note:Consultation

    (2) Within two days after receiving the notice, the network operator shall consult with the registered referendum committee that sent the notice for the purpose of reaching an agreement on the days and hours when the broadcasting time is to be made available to the committee.

  • Marginal note:Where no agreement

    (3) Where no agreement is reached under subsection (2), the matter shall be referred to the Broadcasting Arbitrator and the Arbitrator shall forthwith decide the days and hours when broadcasting time is to be made available to the registered referendum committee and give notice of the decision to the committee and the network operator.

  • Marginal note:Factors

    (4) In making a decision under subsection (3), the Broadcasting Arbitrator shall take into account the following principles:

    • (a) that each registered referendum committee should, as far as possible, have the freedom and flexibility to determine the actual broadcasting time it wishes to be made available to it; and

    • (b) that any broadcasting time to be made available to any registered referendum committee should be made available fairly throughout prime time.

  • Marginal note:Decision binding

    (5) A decision under subsection (3) is final and binding on the registered referendum committee and on the network operator.

Marginal note:C.R.T.C. guidelines

  •  (1) The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission shall, not later than three days after the issue of the writs of referendum, send to the Broadcasting Arbitrator guidelines respecting the application of the Broadcasting Act and the regulations made under that Act to network operators in relation to the referendum.

  • Marginal note:Broadcasting Arbitrator guidelines

    (2) The Broadcasting Arbitrator shall, not later than five days after the issue of the writs of referendum, issue to all network operators

    • (a) guidelines covering

      • (i) the allocation of free broadcasting time under this Act,

      • (ii) the procedures for booking free broadcasting time by registered referendum committees, and

      • (iii) such other matters as may be pertinent to the conduct of network operators under this Act; and

    • (b) the guidelines sent to the Broadcasting Arbitrator pursuant to subsection (1).

Marginal note:Blackout period

  •  (1) No person shall, for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question, advertise on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking or publish an advertisement in a periodical publication on polling day or the day preceding polling day.

  • Marginal note:Presumption

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a notice of a function, meeting or other event that a registered referendum committee intends to hold or a notice of invitation to meet or hear a representative of a registered referendum committee at a specific place is deemed not to be an advertisement for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question.

Marginal note:Referendum advertisements

 No person shall, for the purpose of supporting or opposing a referendum question, advertise on the facilities of any broadcasting undertaking, publish an advertisement in a periodical publication or display or distribute an advertisement on a handbill, placard or poster, unless the advertisement identifies the sponsor of the advertisement and indicates that the advertisement is authorized by that sponsor.

Recounts

Marginal note:Application by Her Majesty in right of Canada

  •  (1) Her Majesty in right of Canada may, not later than ten days after the validation of results has been completed in an electoral district, apply for a recount of the votes cast in the electoral district on a referendum question to a judge to whom an application for a recount may be made under the Canada Elections Act in respect of the electoral district.

  • Marginal note:Application by Her Majesty in right of a province or an elector

    (2) Her Majesty in right of a province or any elector ordinarily resident in a province may, not later than ten days after the validation of results has been completed in an electoral district in the province, apply for a recount of the votes cast in the electoral district on a referendum question to a judge to whom an application for a recount may be made under the Canada Elections Act in respect of the electoral district.

  • Marginal note:Affidavits

    (3) An application shall be supported by one or more affidavits or statutory declarations of persons having personal knowledge of the matters to which they attest.

  • Marginal note:Service

    (4) A copy of an application by Her Majesty in right of a province or an elector and the affidavit or statutory declaration in support thereof shall be served on the Attorney General of Canada not less than five days before the application is to be heard by a judge.

  • Marginal note:Recount

    (5) The judge to whom an application is made shall order that the recount be carried out and shall appoint a time for commencing the recount, if the judge is satisfied that

    • (a) votes cast in the electoral district on the referendum question may have been wrongly rejected, counted, added or reported; and

    • (b) there is a reasonable possibility that, if the votes are properly rejected, counted, added and reported, the opinion of the majority of the electors in the electoral district who cast ballots on that question will be shown to be opposite to what it was shown to be by the original count.

  • Marginal note:Time

    (6) A recount shall be commenced within four days after it was ordered.

  • Marginal note:Costs

    (7) No costs shall be awarded on an application under this section.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 29
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 568

Marginal note:Electors entitled to be present

 Where, at a recount under section 29 of the votes cast on a referendum question, the judge is satisfied that either the electors who support the question or those who oppose it are not represented at the recount, any three electors who demand to attend on behalf of the electors who are not so represented are entitled to attend, but, except with the permission of the judge, no persons other than those who are by this section entitled to attend at the recount shall be permitted to attend.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 30
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 569(F)

Information Programs

Marginal note:Information provided by Chief Electoral Officer

  •  (1) The Chief Electoral Officer shall, as soon as possible after the issue of a proclamation, inform the public, by such means as the Chief Electoral Officer considers appropriate, of the referendum question and the manner in which the referendum will be conducted.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as requiring or authorizing the Chief Electoral Officer to inform, or answer inquiries from, the public with respect to any argument in support of or in opposition to any referendum question.

Participation by Public Servants and Referendum Officers

Marginal note:Definitions

  •  (1) In this section,

    public servant

    public servant means a deputy head or an employee as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Public Service Employment Act, but does not include a person on the staff of the Chief Electoral Officer; (fonctionnaire)

    referendum officer

    referendum officer means returning officers, assistant returning officers, additional assistant returning officers, persons authorized by a returning officer to perform duties under this Act, revising agents, deputy returning officers, poll clerks, registration officers, information officers, persons responsible for maintaining order at a central polling place, central poll supervisors, persons appointed to collect ballot boxes, the special voting rules administrator, special ballot officers, liaison officers for correctional institutions and deputy returning officers and poll clerks for correctional institutions. (fonctionnaire référendaire)

  • Marginal note:Participation not precluded

    (2) Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act is not to be construed or applied so as to restrict the right of a public servant to participate fully in respect of a referendum.

  • Marginal note:Regulations

    (3) Where, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, the participation of public servants or any class of public servants in a referendum would likely impair the ability of the public servants or public servants in that class to discharge the responsibilities of their positions, the Governor in Council may make regulations limiting their participation in the referendum.

  • Marginal note:Referendum officers

    (4) Referendum officers shall, in performing their duties and functions under this Act, act impartially and not in any way show favour to any side in a referendum.

  • 1992, c. 30, s. 32
  • 1996, c. 35, s. 91
  • 2000, c. 9, s. 570
  • 2003, c. 22, s. 244
 

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