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Someone denied the franchise, for example, could appeal to the courts; if the appeal were successful, the courts might strike down part of the law or require changes in the administrative rules that resulted in disenfranchisement – and this has indeed happened frequently since 1982.Since the introduction of the Charter, there have been over 30 court cases involving electoral matters.Serving the public trust demanded more than simply administering the electoral legislation – it demanded an approach that was strategic and proactive.As the politically independent custodian of the , the Chief Electoral Officer was in a unique position to help legislators mould its provisions into conformity with the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter, while retaining the spirit of the act.
It employed a management system that functioned on a case-by-case basis.The achievement of these ends was assisted by the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing (also known as the Lortie Commission).It was appointed by the federal government in 1989 to review, among other matters, the many anomalies in the electoral process identified by Charter challengers.This chapter shows clearly the pervasive influence of Charter challenges on the development of these and other key pieces of electoral legislation. By the time Jean-Pierre Kingsley was appointed in 1990, a dozen or so cases had already come before the courts to challenge the act on Charter grounds.This unprecedented stream of legal challenges to federal legislation gave the new Chief Electoral Officer an opportunity not afforded his predecessor: foreknowledge of the Charter's sweeping effect on how Canadian legislation would henceforth be conceived, interpreted and executed. Kingsley's assessment, the Charter – along with developments in technology and the growing global interest in democracy – had fundamentally changed the function of his Office.