Voter engagement (II)

The Conservative campaign has issued the following statement.

The Conservative Party encourages all Canadians to exercise their democratic right to vote. In fact, we are taking unprecedented steps to ensure that all Canadians are aware of the many ways in which they can vote, including voting by special ballot at or through returning offices.

Voting is a democratic right. A fair election process is an equally important democratic right. All Canadians want the election rules to be followed and to be enforced the same everywhere.

On April 13, representatives of the Marty Burke campaign attended at a polling station set up by the Returning Officer for Guelph.

The local campaign was denied the right to have its identified scrutineer observe the process – a denial of a basic electoral right. The local campaign also noticed that Liberal material was present in the polling area – a clear breach of the rules.

On behalf of the Marty Burke campaign, the Party’s legal counsel contacted Elections Canada headquarters in Ottawa. At this point, the assumption was that the Returning Officer was acting in compliance with the Canada Elections Act and the goal was simply to ask that the basic standards of fairness be observed.

It turned out that the real issue was not the denial of procedural fairness at a legally authorized poll, but the fact that the poll was not authorized at all. Pierre Boutet of Elections Canada informed our legal counsel that the Guelph poll was not authorized by Elections Canada. Given the admission that the local Returning Officer acted without authority, we leave it to Elections Canada to enforce the rules and uphold the law. We have no further public comment about this matter.

In 2006, the Liberal Party successfully petitioned Elections Canada to quash an unauthorized poll set up on the University of Toronto campus by the Returning Officer in Trinity-Spadina. The issue was then, as it is now, ensuring that the rules are followed.

The Marty Burke campaign states that none of its workers or volunteers interfered with the process; in particular, none of its workers or volunteers touched a ballot box or ballot. The campaign asked to have an identified scrutineer present, and this right was denied. The outlandish and unfounded claims being spread on the Internet are the product of desperation, and are most regrettable.

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