MP Niki Ashton seeks Elections Canada probe of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski vote
Requests review of staff conduct at polling station in northern Manitoba riding
Niki Ashton's campaign manager, Blair Hudson, has filed a formal complaint with Elections Canada about alleged partisan behaviour at Fairford Poll # 90 and associated polls during the Oct. 19 federal election.
- Northern Manitoba riding draws nearly 50% more voters than in previous election
A letter sent in late November to Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand outlines five complaints about the polling station. Ashton was elected MP in the riding, which was hotly contested by Liberal Rebecca Chartrand.
The first complaint is that between 558 and 561 votes were counted at the polling station, roughly 300 more votes than voters identified on the electors list.
"We have cause for concern that people voting were ineligible to vote in this poll," Hudson writes.
The letter also outlines alleged partisan behaviour, in favour of the Liberal Party, occurred at the polling station on voting day.
"Highly problematic experiences were outlined by people locally," NDP MP Niki Ashton told CBC.
An NDP scrutineer overheard an an Elections Canada worker tell the local returning officer "be careful. The NDP is here watching," Hudson's letter states. At least one person reported to the Ashton campaign they were instructed to vote Liberal in the election.
"We have the ability and the duty to make it known that we were not, that we are not okay with what we heard," said Ashton.
"Given the gravity of the issues that were raised and our frank request for information ... we sincerely hope that Elections Canada will take this seriously."
Ashton's campaign has yet to receive a response from Elections Canada, she said.
"Our complaint is pretty clear this is a question, not of lack of capacity or lack of awareness, it's a question of ethics," she said.
Elections Canada declined CBC Manitoba's interview request and said they do not typically comment until investigations are concluded.
Full letter sent to Elections Canada:
Chief Electoral Officer
Dear Mr. Mayrand,
I would like to request a review of the conduct of the 42nd election in Fairford Poll # 90 and associated polls in the riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski. I am very concerned about how the election was conducted given a number of key points arising from that day.
1. Our campaign has been told that 558 and 561 voters voted in Fairford, as shown on the copy of statements of the vote for candidates & representatives. Our records indicate this is approximately 300 more people than we identified on the electors' list. While we recognize many people living in First Nations are not registered voters we have cause for concern that people voting were ineligible to vote in this poll.
2. Our campaign was also informed that the number 558 includes the advanced poll numbers for Lake St. Martin, Dauphin River and Little Saskatchewan. However this should not be the case as Lake St. Martin and Dauphin River voted in different polls in Winnipeg. Knowing that Little Saskatchewan had a poll #89 on the reserve we have no records to show that there was a poll in Winnipeg, however the numbers from our voters list shows a discrepancy of 50+ on the final tally sheet.
3. Our scrutineer in Fairford overheard an Election Day worker tell the local Returning Officer "Be careful. The NDP is here watching." I am sure you will agree that this statement is cause for concern.
4. We have been notified by at least one person in Fairford that prior to walking to the booth to fill in her ballot, they were encouraged to vote Liberal. The person in turn reported it to our scrutineering officer. The person who heard this felt it was likely that the same message was given to others too.
5. We have been notified that Elections Canada representatives in Fairford were not consistent in asking for correct ID from people. It is feared that certain people were targeted and were told that they couldn't vote even though they brought the right ID.
We have flagged our serious concerns with the Chief Returning Officer for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski. Our campaign has asked to review the voters lists associated to Fairford, Little Saskatchewan, Lake St. Martin and Dauphin River.
We are asking Elections Canada to review what took place in Fairford. We would like to clear up this concern as soon as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.