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By-elections March 17, 2008 – Official Voting Results


The March 17, 2008, by-elections in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, Toronto Centre, Vancouver Quadra and Willowdale

Introduction

This section of the Chief Electoral Officer's report on the federal by-elections held on
March 17, 2008, describes the circumstances leading to the call for the by-elections, the electoral districts involved, the candidates, the numbers of registered electors and polling stations, and the results.

The following section presents further information and summary data on the official voting results, in the form of tables. The concluding section gives the poll-by-poll results for the by-elections.

Information on the administration of the March 17, 2008, by-elections will appear in a report to be published by March 2009:

The report will be available at www.elections.ca.

Calling the by-elections

On August 31, 2007, Gary Merasty, the Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River since January 23, 2006, resigned, leaving his seat in the House of Commons vacant. A writ ordering a by-election in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River was accordingly issued on December 21, 2007.

On July 2, 2007, the Honourable Bill Graham, the Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre since June 28, 2004, resigned, leaving his seat in the House of Commons vacant. A writ ordering a by-election in Toronto Centre was accordingly issued on December 21, 2007.

On July 27, 2007, the Honourable Stephen Owen, the Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra since November 27, 2000, resigned, leaving his seat in the House of Commons vacant. A writ ordering a by-election in Vancouver Quadra was accordingly issued on December 21, 2007.

On July 12, 2007, the Honourable Jim Peterson, the Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Willowdale since November 21, 1988, resigned, leaving his seat in the House of Commons vacant. A writ ordering a by-election in Willowdale was accordingly issued on December 21, 2007.

At that time, the seat distribution in the House of Commons was: Conservative Party of Canada – 126 seats; Liberal Party of Canada – 95 seats; Bloc Québécois – 49 seats; New Democratic Party – 30 seats; Independent – 4 seats; and vacant – 4 seats.

The electoral districts

The boundaries of the electoral districts of Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, Toronto Centre, Vancouver Quadra and Willowdale were the same as those in effect during the 2006 federal general election. They coincide with the boundaries defined in the Representation Order of 2003, issued in accordance with the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

Table 1
Returning officers


Electoral district Name Occupation Place of residence
Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River Marlene Catherine Wolkosky Clerical La Ronge
Toronto Centre T'Hayla Ferguson Acupuncturist Toronto
Vancouver Quadra Brian J. Clark Agriculture Vancouver
Willowdale May Lynne Fong Researcher Toronto

Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River
Population based on the 2006 Census: 67,937

Map - Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River

Toronto Centre
Population based on the 2006 Census: 121,407

Map - Toronto Centre

Vancouver Quadra
Population based on the 2006 Census: 119,627

Map - Vancouver Quadra

Willowdale
Population based on the 2006 Census: 129,356

Map - Willowdale


Registered political parties and nomination of candidates

The candidates in the by-elections had until 2:00 p.m. on February 25, 2008, to file their nomination papers in accordance with the date published in the Notice of Election by the returning officers.

In Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.

In Toronto Centre, six registered parties nominated candidates: the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, the Canadian Action Party, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.

In Vancouver Quadra, six registered parties nominated candidates: the Canadian Action Party, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, neorhino.ca and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.

In Willowdale, four registered parties nominated candidates: the Conservative Party of Canada, the Green Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. There were no independent candidates. None of the candidates withdrew during the period in which this was permitted.

Registration of electors

For the March 17, 2008, by-elections, there were 41,682 names on the preliminary lists of electors in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, 87,898 names on the preliminary lists for Toronto Centre, 85,512 names on the preliminary lists for Vancouver Quadra and 93,651 names on the preliminary lists for Willowdale. The lists were produced from information in the National Register of Electors. During the revision period, which extended from February 13 until March 11, 2008, 3,034 electors were registered in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River (1,888 supplemental registrations sent from the Chief Electoral Officer and 1,146 as part of the revision process). In Toronto Centre, 6,968 electors were registered (2,163 supplemental registrations sent from the Chief Electoral Officer and 4,805 as part of the revision process). In Vancouver Quadra, 3,365 electors were registered (1,661 supplemental registrations sent from the Chief Electoral Officer and 1,704 as part of the revision process). In Willowdale, 4,627 electors were registered (2,160 supplemental registrations sent from the Chief Electoral Officer and 2,467 as part of the revision process). These figures included electors who were already on the lists but had changed addresses.

The names recorded on the final lists of electors (that is, the lists prepared after election day) numbered 42,375 in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, 85,962 in Toronto Centre, 83,602 in Vancouver Quadra and 93,027 in Willowdale.

These lists included the names of 1,275 electors who registered on election day in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, some of whom had changed addresses. In Toronto Centre, 1,064 electors (including those with changes of address) registered on election day. And on election day, 1,712 electors registered in Vancouver Quadra and 625 in Willowdale.

Polling stations

On election day, the ordinary polling stations were open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) in Toronto Centre and Willowdale, and from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) in Vancouver Quadra.

The returning officer in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River set up 161 ordinary polling stations, 158 of which were stationary. In Toronto Centre, there were 256 ordinary polling stations, 253 of which were stationary. In Vancouver Quadra, there were 223 ordinary polling stations, 218 of which were stationary; and in Willowdale, there were 257 ordinary polling stations, 255 of which were stationary.

In addition, the Act provides for the establishment of mobile polling stations to collect the votes of seniors and persons with disabilities who live in long-term care facilities. These polling stations, which serve polling divisions with at least two institutions, travel from institution to institution, and they remain open at each place only as long as necessary to enable the electors present to vote. In the March 17, 2008, by-election in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, 3 mobile polling stations served 141 electors. In Toronto Centre, there were 3 mobile polling stations serving 352 electors. In Vancouver Quadra, 5 mobile polling stations served 875 electors. In Willowdale, 2 mobile polling stations served 313 electors.

The returning officer is required to set up advance polling stations to collect the votes of electors who do not wish to go to their ordinary polling stations on election day. The electoral district of Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River had 15 advance polling stations, while Toronto Centre had 13, Vancouver Quadra had 12 and Willowdale had 11. All the advance polling stations were open from noon to 8:00 p.m. (local time) on March 7, 8 and 10, 2008.

Polling results

A total of 10,475 electors cast a ballot in the by-election in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, a participation rate of 24.7%. Of these electors, 9,505 (or 90.7%) voted on election day at their ordinary polling stations.

In Toronto Centre, 23,953 electors cast a ballot in the by-election, a participation rate of 27.9%. Of these electors, 21,621 (or 90.3%) voted on election day at their ordinary polling stations.

In Vancouver Quadra, 28,243 electors cast a ballot in the by-election, a participation rate of 33.8%. Of these electors, 23,365 (or 82.7%) voted on election day at their ordinary polling stations.

In Willowdale, 22,837 electors cast a ballot in the by-election, a participation rate of 24.5%. Of these electors, 20,965 (or 91.8%) voted on election day at their ordinary polling stations.

Table 2
Number of electors who voted, by voting method


Voting method Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River Toronto Centre Vancouver Quadra Willowdale
No. % No. % No. % No. %
Ordinary polling stations
9,571
91.4
21,735
90.7
23,731
84.0
21,086
92.3
Advance polling stations
847
8.1
1,736
7.2
3,437
12.2
1,463
6.4
Special Voting Rules – Group 1*
0
0.0
79
0.3
49
0.2
32
0.1
Special Voting Rules – Group 2**
57
0.5
403
1.7
1,026
3.6
256
1.1
Total
10,475
100***
23,953
100***
28,243
100***
22,837
100***

* Includes Canadian citizens temporarily residing outside Canada, members of the Canadian Forces (except members of the Canadian Forces who voted at the polling station established for the polling division of their place of ordinary residence) and incarcerated electors.

** Includes Canadian citizens residing in Canada who voted by special ballot in or outside their electoral districts.

*** Due to rounding, figures do not add up to total shown.

Candidates elected

In the March 17, 2008, by-elections, the Conservative Party of Canada candidate, Rob Clarke, was declared elected in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River once the validation of results was completed. The Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Bob Rae, was declared elected in Toronto Centre once the validation of results was completed. The Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Joyce Murray, was declared elected in Vancouver Quadra once the validation of results was completed. And in Willowdale, after the validation of results, the Liberal Party of Canada candidate, Martha Hall Findlay, was declared elected.

Following the by-elections of March 17, 2008, the distribution of seats in the House of Commons was:

Conservative Party of Canada
127
Liberal Party of Canada
97
Bloc Québécois
48
New Democratic Party
30
Independent
4
Vacant
2
Total
308

Adaptations

Subsection 17(1) of the Canada Elections Act gives the Chief Electoral Officer the authority to adapt any provision of the Act as necessary to deal with an emergency, an unusual or unforeseen circumstance or an error. Section 179 of the Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to issue instructions to adapt those rules to a particular circumstance. During the 2008 by-elections in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, Toronto Centre, Vancouver Quadra and Willowdale, the Chief Electoral Officer used his adaptation authority on six occasions.

The Canada Elections Act prohibits voting by prisoners in federal institutions, and it does not describe a process for such prisoners to vote. Since the 2002 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sauvé, which struck down the prohibition, the Act has had to be adapted in every subsequent federal election to extend the statutory process for voting by the Special Voting Rules in provincial institutions to federal institutions.

While there is a growing number of electors who are choosing to vote at advance polls, the Canada Elections Act provides for fewer election officers at advance polls than at ordinary polls on polling day. In particular, there is provision for only one deputy returning officer and one poll clerk for each advance polling station, and no provision for information officers, registration officers or central poll supervisors at advance polling stations. The Canada Elections Act was adapted to enable returning officers to appoint additional deputy returning officers and poll clerks, and to appoint information officers, registration officers and central poll supervisors to assist at the advance polling stations.

On the occasion of the March 17, 2008, by-elections, the Chief Electoral Officer drafted an instruction pursuant to section 179 of the Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election in such a manner as to render it applicable to all by-elections. Section 276 of the Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election does not provide for the setting aside of an outer envelope where the elector is not entitled to vote in the electoral district. The rules were adapted to allow such an outer envelope to be set aside unopened.

Environment Canada issued a winter weather advisory for the electoral districts of Toronto Centre and Willowdale during the time of the advance polls. An adaptation was made to allow a returning officer, with the prior approval of the Chief Electoral Officer, to reduce the number of hours during which an advance poll was open or to cancel the advance poll.

A special ballot was received in an inner envelope, but with no outer envelope. The Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election, however, do not provide for a special ballot officer to set aside an inner envelope that is not sent in an outer envelope. The rules were adapted to allow special ballot officers to set aside unopened an inner envelope not contained within an outer envelope, and to provide for the disposition of inner envelopes set aside. The adaptation also required the Special Voting Rules Administrator to report on the number of inner and outer envelopes set aside.

Finally, with respect to the electoral district of Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, the Canada Elections Act was adapted to address a situation where ballots cast at an advance poll were erroneously combined with those cast at a regular poll. In this instance, the advance poll ballots were deemed to have been cast at the regular poll, and the ballots were jointly counted and reported in accordance with the adapted provisions.