Liberal Party requests recount in tight Quebec race it lost to Bloc

The Liberal Party is requesting a recount in the federal riding of Châteauguay-Lacolle after Elections Canada reported what it called a “potential anomaly” in the count that saw the Bloc Québécois candidate defeat the Liberal by 286 votes.

The party said that it’s “important that every vote is counted"

Elections Canada says it detected a potential anomaly with one of the ballot boxes. The Liberal Party is now requesting a judicial recount. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The Liberal Party is requesting a recount in the federal riding of Châteauguay-Lacolle after Elections Canada reported what it called a "potential anomaly" in the count that saw the Bloc Québécois candidate defeat the Liberal by 286 votes.

Elections Canada confirms it detected a possible issue with one of the ballot boxes after the results had been finalized. The agency did not offer details.

"Since validation, Elections Canada has become aware of a potential anomaly with the results reported for a single ballot box at an advance poll," Elections Canada spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said in a statement to CBC News. 

"We have been informed by the Liberal Party of Canada that they are taking the necessary steps to request a judicial recount under the relevant provisions of the Act."

The riding's result was the seventh-closest in the federal election, according to Elections Canada's results. Bloc Québécois MP Patrick O'Hara won on Saturday with a 0.59 per cent margin over Liberal incumbent Brenda Shanahan, who was first elected in 2015.

The Liberal Party said that it's "important that every vote is counted."

"The Liberal campaign has full confidence in the avenues provided for in the Canada Elections Act for close results like the one in Châteauguay-Lacolle," wrote Liberal spokesperson Braeden Caley in a statement to CBC News. 

The Bloc Québécois says it will not be commenting on the matter. 

A woman walks by an Elections Canada sign at a polling station in Toronto on Sept. 20, 2021. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Typo also entered and fixed, agency said

Elections Canada says it detected another issue earlier with the vote count in the Quebec riding.

The Liberals said they were told a returning officer accidentally entered 410 votes for the Bloc Québécois candidate, rather than 40 votes. The typo was discovered in "one of the result numbers for one of the polls" during the validation process and corrected, said Elections Canada. 

"This was due to human error," wrote Elections Canada. "The aforementioned typo was checked and corrected at this time, as were other data-entry typos discovered during the validation process. None of these errors changed the outcome of the results."

Candidates were notified and representatives watched the validation on Sept. 25.

Elections Canada said that no other parties have yet asked for recounts in other ridings, but they have until four days after the validation to submit a request.

"Judicial recounts are designed to the verify the arithmetic of the count or a contested election proceeding brought on the basis of an alleged irregularity," wrote Gauthier. "They happen every election and they are an important part of the democratic process."

Brenda Shanahan, former MP for Chateauguay-Lacolle (seen left) lost her seat in Châteauguay-Lacolle by 286 votes to the Bloc Québécois, according to Elections Canada's validated results. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)


  • This story has been updated from a previous version in which the Liberals had said a returning officer accidentally entered 410 votes for the Liberal candidate. In fact, those votes were allocated to the Bloc Québécois candidate.
    Sep 28, 2021 11:24 AM ET


Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa who focuses on enterprise journalism for television, radio and digital platforms. She earned the Charles Lynch Award and was a finalist for the Michener Award for her exclusive reporting on the past toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She has also uncovered rampant allegations of sexual misconduct in the military. Her beats include transport, defence and federal government accountability. You can reach her confidentially by email: ashley.burke@cbc.ca or https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/


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