[JURIST] The Canadian Senate [official website] Wednesday passed a US-style bill to have federal elections on fixed dates every four years [Privy Council backgrounder]. An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act [Bill C-16 text and materials] requires that an election be held on the third Monday of October four years after the last federal election, although the chief electoral officer has limited discretion to change the date if it's found to be inappropriate for some reason. Opposition parties can still force an earlier vote if a minority government loses a confidence vote in the Canadian House of Commons. The bill is scheduled to receive royal assent and become law Thursday.
Former Minister for Democratic Reform Rob Nicholson [official profile] introduced the bill [JURIST report] last year on behalf of Canada's new Conservative government to promote "greater fairness" in the Canadian electoral system, since current rules let the prime minister choose the date for the general election and tell the governor general to dissolve Parliament. According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile], this allows the ruling party to set the time of the election to its own advantage. CBC News has more.