Manitoba

Some New Democrats in The Pas call coin-toss tiebreaker ludicrous

Some prominent New Democrats in northern Manitoba are outraged that a coin-toss determined Amanda Lathlin will represent the party in the upcoming provincial byelection in The Pas.

Coin flip determined that Amanda Lathlin will represent NDP in The Pas byelection

Some New Democrats in The Pas call coin-toss tiebreaker ludicrous

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

6 years ago
1:20
CBC legislative reporter Chris Glover explains why some prominent New Democrats in northern Manitoba are outraged that a coin-toss determined Amanda Lathlin will represent the party in the upcoming provincial byelection in The Pas. 1:20

Some prominent New Democrats in northern Manitoba are outraged that a coin-toss determined Amanda Lathlin will represent the party in the upcoming provincial byelection in The Pas.

The toss was to break a tie between the two front-runners, Lathlin and Florence Duncan, after a second round of voting. Sources say both candidates had received 295 votes.

New Democrat Alan McLauchlan, the former mayor of The Pas, says it should not have been handled by chance.

"My vote was basically wasted," he said. "Why didn't we just go to a coin toss to start off with?!"

'I feel betrayed by the party'

CBC News obtained a letter from Duncan, the losing candidate, to the NDP provincial office dated March 18.

"This process was deeply unfair, and I feel betrayed by the party I've been so loyal to and worked so hard for, for the last 10 months," Duncan wrote.

"For my candidacy, to be so dismissed as to flip a coin to determine a winner, is not only undemocratic and wrong, but disrespectful of both myself and Amanda, as nomination candidates and ambassadors of the Manitoba NDP."

Duncan wrote that a run-off vote is the only solution.

Some allege that party rushed process

New Democrat Cristo Spiess, the mayor of Norway House, says he thinks party officials used the coin toss to rush the process along.

"I'm kind of thinking maybe there's a timeline on it," he said.

"I mean, the province has to call a byelection here real quick, so I think that maybe had something to do with it." 

The Pas has been without an MLA since Frank Whitehead resigned on May 16, 2014. Under provincial law, a seat cannot remain unfilled for more than one year.

Spiess said it was a shame given the amount of work all the candidates put into the campaign.

"It seems like it doesn't mean anything," he said. "You take 10 months of work on all the candidates' part and then when it comes down to a tie, it seems frivolous to end it with a coin toss."

'Absolutely ludicrous' 

McLauchlan said there should have been a third or even a fourth vote, if necessary.

He scoured the NDP constitution but couldn't find the coin-toss tiebreaker rule. He said even if it does exist, it should be changed. 

"That needs to be looked at. It's absolutely ludicrous that we decide who we've been asked to support by the flip of the coin," he said.

The Manitoba NDP did not respond to requests to explain the practice by Wednesday evening.  

'Every vote counts,' Lathlin writes on Facebook

"When I ran for the NDP nomination I would definitely not have agreed to a coin toss," said McLauchlan, who ran for the NDP nomination against Frank Whitehead in The Pas in 2008.

Sources say neither Duncan nor Lathlin agreed to the coin toss at first.

Duncan declined media requests and Lathlin could not be reached for comment.

​However, Lathlin has posted the following message on her Facebook page: "I would like to thank the other candidates, Florence Duncan and Derek Dick. We all worked hard throughout the campaign. The nomination was determined by a coin toss. There was a tie between Florence and I. This is a great example to prove that every vote counts. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the nomination process." 

A party source told CBC News the executive upheld the coin-toss verdict at an emergency meeting Thursday evening.

How Tories handle tiebreakers

For Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives, a tie at a nomination meeting is handled differently.

By Tory rules, the constituency president casts a ballot that is sealed and given to the returning officer. 

In a tie situation, the president's vote determines the winner, according to the party. 

After winning the nomination meeting on Saturday, Lathlin is set to run against PC candidate Jacob Nasekapowis.

Lathlin is the daughter of former NDP MLA and cabinet minister Oscar Lathlin.

The Pas is considered a safe seat for the NDP. A New Democrat has respresented the constituency since 1969.


Read Florence Duncan's letter to the Manitoba NDP below. On mobile? You can read it here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Glover

CBC News Reporter

Chris Glover has been a reporter, anchor and producer with CBC News for a decade. He’s an award winning storyteller, who has travelled the country in search of fascinating characters with compelling stories to share on TV, radio and online. A series he helped spearhead at CBC Toronto, No Fixed Address, won a national RTDNA award in 2017 and the municipal election special he anchored in 2018 was just nominated for an RTDNA award for best live special.

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