Canada’s chief electoral officer is stepping down from his post after nearly 10 years on the job — a tenure marked by public spats with the former Conservative government over its controversial Fair Elections Act and its attempt to block veiled Muslim women from voting. Marc Mayrand, who assumed the role in 2007, informed the Speaker of his decision Monday, citing the need for a new chief ahead of the Liberal government’s push for ambitious electoral reform. He will step down on Dec. 28, 2016. “I have concluded that it would be preferable to leave my position at the end of the year to allow my successor the necessary time to assume the responsibility and guide the future direction of Elections Canada,” Mayrand said in a statement. “Given Elections Canada’s ambitious electoral services modernization plans and the government’s consideration of fundamental reforms to our electoral system, I believe the early appointment of a successor to lead Elections Canada well ahead of the next general election is essential and should not be delayed.”
Democratic Reform Minister Maryam Monsef announced last month the government will strike a parliamentary committee to study electoral reform with the express purpose of ending the first-past-the-post system of voting that delivered the Liberals a majority in the last election.
The committee, composed of members of all parliamentary parties, will study various electoral systems, hear testimony from experts and ordinary Canadians alike and then issue a report to Parliament for a final vote.
The government has faced criticism for its initial move to stack the committee with a Liberal majority, something it recently back down on after sustained pressure from the opposition.