Application Made For Judicial Recount Of Ballots

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 at 15:12



The Conservatives say a number of voters from northern Saskatchewan have applied to a Court of Queen’s Bench justice in Prince Albert for a judicial recount in the riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.


The Liberals’ Gary Merasty defeated incumbent Conservative MP Jeremy Harrison by 73 votes in last week’s election.


In a prepared news release, the Tories note the margin of victory was less than the 147 ballots that were rejected or spoiled.


They also say the review of the vote by the chief electoral officer saw the margin of victory reduced by 33 votes because ballots were either incorrectly counted, recorded or reported.


The Conservatives say the electors launching the application for a recount feel the measure is necessary to protect the integrity of the democratic process.


Harrison won’t be making any public statements until the court releases its decision, which could come within a week.


Merasty’s legal team has been instructed to co-operate fully with a judicial recount, if it is ordered. But lawyer Tiffany Paulsen is still of the opinion that the criteria needed for a recount is too narrow for the application to be successful.


Meanwhile, Elections Canada officials are still refusing to say whether it is legal for raffles or draws to be held to entice people to come out and vote.


Officials at the Ahtahkakoop First Nation have admitted some sort of draw was held on the reserve on election night for that purpose, but they are adamant it was open to everyone — not just Liberal suppporters as the Conservatives have alleged.


A section of the federal Elections Act says “bribes” can’t be offered directly or indirectly to influence an elector to vote, but it’s unclear if a raffle falls under that category.