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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the November 9, 2009, By-elections Held in Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley, Hochelaga, Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup and New Westminster–Coquitlam

2. Conduct of the November 2009 By-elections

2.1 Launch of the by-elections

Four vacancies in the House of Commons precipitated the November 2009 by-elections.

Given the date on which the Member of Parliament for New Westminster–Coquitlam resigned, the deadline for calling an election in this electoral district was October 13, 2009, pursuant to the Parliament of Canada Act. On September 11, 2009, the Chief Electoral Officer held a teleconference with members of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties to update them on various topics, particularly the new measures taken by Elections Canada as part of its election preparations.

Writs were issued on October 4, 2009, directing the returning officers in Cumberland– Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley, Hochelaga, Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup and New Westminster–Coquitlam to conduct by-elections on November 9, 2009.

House of Commons seat distribution

On October 4, 2009, the seat distribution in the House of Commons was:

The returning officers

The returning officers in charge of conducting the 2009 by-elections in the four electoral districts in question were: Darlene Mackay for Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley; Suzanne Paquin for Hochelaga; Pierrette Couillard for Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup; and Leslie Neil Budd for New Westminster–Coquitlam.

The candidates

From the time the returning officers published the Notice of Election, prospective candidates in the by-elections had until 2:00 p.m. on October 19, 2009, to file their nomination papers. The candidates had until 5:00 p.m. on the same day to withdraw or make corrections to the name, address or occupation indicated on their nomination papers; none of the candidates withdrew before the deadline. Table 8 presents in detail the political parties and candidates who participated in these elections.

Elections Canada posted the names of candidates on its Web site as they were confirmed, and posted the final lists of confirmed candidates once nominations closed. It also provided the official lists to Canadian diplomatic missions and consular posts through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and to Canadian Forces bases through the Department of National Defence.

2.2 Milestones of the electoral process

Table 1 is an overview of the milestones in the electoral process, from the issue of the writs to election day, for the by-elections held in 2009.

Table 1 – Key dates
Date Election calendar day Event
October 4 Day 36 Issue of the writs; voting by special ballot begins; local Elections Canada offices open to the public
October 6 Day 34 Preliminary lists of electors sent to returning officers
October 7 Day 33 Revision of lists of electors begins
October 8 Day 32
(or earlier)
Notice of Election published – candidates may file nomination papers
October 9 Day 31 Preliminary lists of electors sent to candidates as they are confirmed
October 12 Day 28 Targeted revision begins
October 14–16 Days 26 to 24 Voter information cards mailed to all registered electors
October 19 Day 21
(2:00 p.m.)
Close of nominations
October 21 Day 19
(2:00 p.m.)
Confirmation of nominated candidates
October 21–23 Days 19 to 17 Reminder brochures distributed
October 29 Day 11 Revised lists of electors sent to candidates
October 30, 31 and November 2 Days 10, 9 and 7 Advance polls
November 2 Day 7 Final spending limits announced for candidates and parties
November 3 Day 6
(6:00 p.m.)
Revision ends; deadline for special ballot registration
November 9 Day 0 Deadline for special ballot voting; election day

2.3 Communicating with electors

At all electoral events, Elections Canada strives to promote awareness among electors about their right to vote, key dates in the electoral calendar, voting rules and procedures, as well as changes to electoral law. Each communications and outreach campaign is tailored to the geography and demographics of the electoral districts.

Advertising and media relations

The key messages of our advertising campaign for the 2009 by-elections, as for the general election of October 14, 2008, focused on the new identification requirements for voters and the different voting options. The campaign included two 30-second radio ads and two half-page print ads. According to a post-election survey conducted by Cossette Media, the percentage of voters who were aware that by-elections were being held was slightly lower than the usual rate (i.e. over 90 percent) in two electoral districts: Hochelaga (80 percent) and New Westminster– Coquitlam (83 percent).

Among those aware of the by-elections, 78 percent remembered receiving the voter information card at home, which is the rate normally observed during by-elections. The same was true with regard to the rate of recall for the reminder brochure (38 percent), newspapers ads (35 percent) and radio ads (31 percent). This information will help us optimize our media purchase plan for future events.

With regard to media relations, Elections Canada received 71 calls from the media, made 180 proactive calls to the media, granted 5 official interviews and published 15 news releases. Questions from the media primarily involved polling hours and locations, voter turnout at the advance polls and identification requirements for voters.

Specialized campaigns

Following our general practice, Elections Canada made special communications and outreach efforts to groups and communities thought likely to experience difficulty in exercising their right to vote, or not reached as easily by the general advertising campaign. For example, we distributed information kits to organizations that provide services to persons with special needs. In New Westminster–Coquitlam, we published ads in community newspapers in Korean, Punjabi and Chinese.

Our community relations officers played a key role in the specialized campaigns conducted in the four electoral districts. For example:

Electoral information sources

Electors could obtain information on registration and voting by contacting their local Elections Canada office, contacting Elections Canada directly or using the Voter Information Service on our Web site. During the election period, our bilingual staff at the Enquiries Unit answered 617 calls and 59 e-mails from the public, and provided information materials upon request.

Furthermore, advertisements were placed so that they were clearly visible on our Web site in order to help returning officers recruit the staff required for election day. On election night, voting results were posted on the site as they became available and there was a record number of 21,900 visits to the site.

2.4 Communicating with candidates, official agents and auditors

Returning officers supplied various materials to candidates, official agents and auditors for the November 2009 by-elections. The returning officers met with the candidates and/or their representatives to ensure everyone received the same information on various issues, such as election day rules, the election officer positions for which candidates could recommend applicants, and certain initiatives that Elections Canada planned to implement during the elections.

2.5 Revising the lists of electors

As usual, Elections Canada used the information from the National Register of Electors to produce the preliminary lists of electors. The revision period ran from October 7 to November 3, 2009.

Table 2 lists the types of revision transactions.

Table 2 – Lists of electors: Revision transactions during the by-elections
Electoral district Cumberland– Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley Hochelaga Montmagny– L'Islet– Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup New Westminster– Coquitlam
Preliminary lists of electors, including Special Voting Rules (SVR)
67,789
78,620
77,886
82,225
Moves between electoral districts1
345
1,914
375
743
Electors added2
687
478
432
785
Moves within the electoral district3
1,268
915
2,088
474
Other corrections4
656
172
463
303
Electors removed from lists5
527
2,216
820
1,859
SVR Group 1 updates6
10
5
4
9
Electors on the final lists
68,304
78,801
77,877
81,903

1 Electors who moved into the electoral district before the beginning of the revision period but were not included in the last release made from the National Register of Electors before the by-election was called.

2 Electors who did not appear on any lists at the beginning of the by-election and were added during the event.

3 Electors who appeared on a list for their electoral district at the beginning of the by-election but at the wrong address. These figures also include administrative changes made by the returning officer to elector records during the event.

4 Electors who appeared on a list of electors with a correct address and requested a correction to their name or mailing address during the event.

5 Electors who appeared on a list of electors but were removed for one of the following reasons: the elector was deceased; the elector asked to be removed; the elector had moved; the individual was not qualified to be on the list (for example, less than 18 years old or a non-citizen); or the elector had a duplicate record on the same list. This figure also reflects elector records removed as a result of elector moves to another electoral district during the event and duplicates removed during the preparation of the final lists of electors.

6 Indicates the increase in the number of Group 1 electors registered under the Special Voting Rules (Canadian electors temporarily residing outside Canada, Canadian Forces electors and incarcerated electors) during the event.

2.6 Ordinary polls and advance polls

On election day, electors could vote at the ordinary polls from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Atlantic Time) in Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley; from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) in Hochelaga and Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup; and from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) in New Westminster–Coquitlam. Electors could also vote at the advance polls, which were open on October 30 and 31, as well as on November 2, from noon to 8:00 p.m. Table 3 lists the types of polling sites (each one may include several polling stations).

Table 3 – Types of polling sites1

Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley
Facility type Ordinary poll2 Advance poll
No. % No. %
Church hall
8
11
2
12
Commercial site
2
3
Community centre
25
34
4
24
School
2
3
1
6
Fire station
18
24
3
18
Municipal building
3
4
1
6
Recreation centre
6
8
2
12
Royal Canadian Legion
8
11
2
12
Other
2
3
2
12
Total
74
100
17
100

 

Hochelaga
Facility type Ordinary poll2 Advance poll
No. % No. %
Apartment building
7
25
1
20
Church hall
1
4
Community centre
4
14
2
40
School
9
32
Municipal building
3
11
1
20
Recreation centre
1
4
Seniors residence
2
7
1
20
Other
1
4
Total
28
100
5
100

 

Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup
Facility type Ordinary poll2 Advance poll
No. % No. %
Apartment building
5
7
Church hall
13
19
1
8
Commercial site
1
1
1
8
Community centre
4
6
1
8
School
1
1
Municipal building
39
57
7
58
Recreation centre
4
6
2
17
Other
2
3
Total
69
100
12
100

 

New Westminster–Coquitlam
Facility type Ordinary poll2 Advance poll
No. % No. %
Apartment building
1
3
Church hall
5
17
3
75
Commercial site
1
3
Community centre
3
10
School
17
57
Federal building
1
3
1
25
Seniors residence
2
7
Total
30
100
4
100

1 Because the percentages have been rounded, there may be some discrepancies in the totals.

2 Excludes mobile polls.

Elections Canada provided a number of mobile polls to assist people in seniors residences, long-term care facilities and other institutions. Table 4 shows the types of polling stations used in the four electoral districts.

Table 4 – Types of polling stations
Electoral district Ordinary Advance Total
Stationary Mobile
Cumberland–Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley
215
11
17
243
Hochelaga
201
6
10
217
Montmagny–L'Islet– Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup
226
15
14
255
New Westminster– Coquitlam
204
7
12
223

Table 5 shows the polling sites with level access during the November 2009 by-elections. In Hochelaga, two temporary level-access ramps were built, at a total cost of $3,600, to ensure that two central polling places located in schools were accessible.

Table 5 – Polling sites with level access (excluding institutions visited by mobile polls)1
Electoral district Accessible without modification Accessible after modification Total
Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley
76
0
76
Hochelaga
26
2
28
Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup
70
0
70
New Westminster–Coquitlam
30
0
30

1 According to the information contained in the inventory of polling sites.

2.7 Voting by special ballot

As in any election, electors could vote by mail or at the local Elections Canada office using a special ballot, under the Special Voting Rules (SVR). Canadians abroad could obtain information about voting by special ballot by contacting any of the diplomatic missions and consular posts of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, or by visiting the Elections Canada Web site. Members of the Canadian Forces – whether based in Canada or abroad – were informed of their voting rights by the Department of National Defence. When the writs were issued, special ballot voting kits were sent to all Canadian Forces electors and electors residing outside Canada whose names appeared on the lists established for the electoral districts of Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley, Hochelaga, Montmagny–L'Islet– Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup and New Westminster–Coquitlam.

Elections Canada ensured that electors hospitalized in acute-care facilities during the by-elections were able to register and vote by special ballot. Registration and voting in acute-care hospitals took place on November 1, 2 and 3, 2009.

Table 6 shows the number of registrations for voting by special ballot, by group and category.

Table 6 – Registrations for voting by special ballot (Special Voting Rules)

Group 11

Groups and categories of electors registering to vote by special ballot
Number of ballots issued
Cumberland– Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley Hochelaga Montmagny– L'Islet– Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup New Westminster– Coquitlam
Members of the Canadian Forces
417
87
198
94
Incarcerated electors
6
1
1
2
Electors temporarily residing outside Canada
10
37
5
51
Group 1 subtotal
433
125
204
147

 

Group 22

Groups and categories of electors registering to vote by special ballot
Number of ballots issued
Cumberland– Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley Hochelaga Montmagny– L'Islet– Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup New Westminster– Coquitlam
Electors temporarily outside their electoral district
27
13
8
11
Electors voting in their electoral district
478
307
337
797
Group 2 subtotal
505
320
345
808

 

Total number of registrations for electors voting by special ballot

Groups and categories of electors registering to vote by special ballot
Number of ballots issued
Cumberland– Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley Hochelaga Montmagny– L'Islet– Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup New Westminster– Coquitlam
Group 1 subtotal
433
125
204
147
Group 2 subtotal
505
320
345
808
Total
938
445
549
955

1 Electors in the three categories registered under Group 1 of the Special Voting Rules are not included in the local lists that are revised by the returning officer during an event.

2 Electors in the categories registered under Group 2 of the Special Voting Rules are included in the local lists of electors.

2.8 Voter turnout

Table 7 shows the numbers of ballots cast and the overall voter turnout.

Table 7 – Number of ballots cast by voting method and voter turnout1
Electoral district Cumberland– Colchester– Musquodoboit Valley Hochelaga Montmagny– L'Islet– Kamouraska– Rivière-du-Loup New Westminster– Coquitlam
Number of electors on final lists
68,304
78,801
77,877
81,903
Ordinary polls
20,5142
15,6602
25,3152
20,6312
83.9%
87.8%
88.0%
84.1%
Advance polls
3,408
1,835
3,093
3,076
13.9%
10.3%
10.8%
12.5%
Voting by special ballot
536
338
358
834
2.2%
1.9%
1.2%
3.4%
Rejected ballots
97
264
264
65
0.4%
1.5%
0.9%
0.3%
Total valid ballots
24,361
17,569
28,502
24,476
99.6%
98.5%
99.1%
99.7%
Total votes cast
24,458
17,833
28,766
24,541
Voter turnout in the November 2009 by-elections
35.8%
22.6%
36.9%
30.0%
Voter turnout in the 2008 general election
57.8%
58.2%
57.5%
61.7%

1 The percentages have been rounded.

2 Includes electors who voted at mobile polls.

2.9 By-election results

On election night, each returning officer's Event Results System (ERS) was linked to Elections Canada's central computer. At the end of the count at each polling station, the deputy returning officer called in the results to the local Elections Canada office, where a staff member entered the totals into the ERS and transmitted them to Elections Canada in Ottawa for posting on the Elections Canada Web site. Ballots cast under the Special Voting Rules by incarcerated and Canadian Forces electors, and by Canadians voting outside their electoral districts, were counted at Elections Canada in Ottawa during the week before election day and on election night.

Table 8 identifies each candidate by political affiliation and shows the number and proportion of valid votes obtained.

Table 8 – Valid votes obtained, by candidate1

Cumberland–Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley
Candidate Political affiliation Place of residence Occupation Valid votes obtained Percentage of valid votes (%)
Scott Armstrong Conservative Party of Canada Truro Educator
11,167
45.8
Mark Austin New Democratic Party Old Barns Sustainability consultant
6,267
25.7
Jim Burrows Liberal Party of Canada Green Oaks Dairy farmer
5,193
21.3
Jason Blanch Green Party of Canada Amherst Environmental educator
807
3.3
Jim Hnatiuk Christian Heritage Party of Canada Enfield Naval electronics technician
778
3.2
Kate Graves Independent Truro Human ecologist
149
0.6
Total
24,361
100

 

Hochelaga
Candidate Political affiliation Place of residence Occupation Valid votes obtained Percentage of valid votes (%)
Daniel Paillé Bloc Québécois Montréal Professor
8,989
51.2
Jean-Claude Rocheleau New Democratic Party Montréal Procedure technician
3,444
19.6
Robert David Liberal Party of Canada Mont-Royal Professor
2,519
14.3
Stéphanie Cloutier Conservative Party of Canada Montréal Director of production
1,768
10.1
Christine Lebel Green Party of Canada Montréal Plumber
572
3.3
Gabrielle Anctil neorhino.ca Montréal Shepherd
129
0.7
Christine Dandenault Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada Montréal Secretary
79
0.4
John Turmel Independent Brantford Banking systems engineer
69
0.4
Total
17,569
100

 

Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup
Candidate Political affiliation Place of residence Occupation Valid votes obtained Percentage of valid votes (%)
Bernard Généreux Conservative Party of Canada La Pocatière Entrepreneur
12,162
42.7
Nancy Gagnon Bloc Québécois Rivière-du-Loup Parliamentary assistant
10,737
37.7
Marcel Catellier Liberal Party of Canada Cap-Saint-Ignace Municipal officer
3,768
13.2
François Lapointe New Democratic Party L'Islet Project officer
1,363
4.8
Charles A. Marois Green Party of Canada Saint-André Organic producer
472
1.7
Total
28,502
100

 

New Westminster–Coquitlam
Candidate Political affiliation Place of residence Occupation Valid votes obtained Percentage of valid votes (%)
Fin Donnelly New Democratic Party Coquitlam Executive director
12,171
49.7
Diana Dilworth Conservative Party of Canada Port Moody City councillor
8,730
35.7
Ken Beck Lee Liberal Party of Canada New Westminster Engineer
2,528
10.3
Rebecca Helps Green Party of Canada Port Moody Business consultant
1,047
4.3
Total
24,476
100

1 Because the percentages have been rounded, there may be some discrepancies in the totals.

Returning officers validate the results as soon as possible after election day. Validation was done on November 10 in Hochelaga and Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup; on November 11 in New Westminster–Coquitlam; and on November 12 in Cumberland– Colchester–Musquodoboit Valley.

The official voting results for the November 2009 by-elections, including poll-by-poll results, are available on the Elections Canada Web site at www.elections.ca under Resource Centre > Reports > Elections Canada's Official Reports.

2.10 Adaptations

In accordance with subsection 17(1) of the Canada Elections Act, the Chief Electoral Officer may adapt any provision of the Act to deal with an emergency, an error, or an unusual or unforeseen circumstance. During the November 2009 by-elections, the Chief Electoral Officer used this authority for the following reason:

In accordance with section 179 of the Special Voting Rules as Adapted for the Purposes of a By-election (Regulations (by-election)), the Chief Electoral Officer may issue any instructions that he considers necessary in order to apply or adapt these regulations to a particular circumstance. During the November 2009 by-elections, the Chief Electoral Officer used this authority for the following reason:

2.11 Enforcement of the Canada Elections Act

The Commissioner of Canada Elections received 15 complaints regarding the November 2009 by-elections. All the complaints involved acts that took place during the election period and most of them were related to election advertising. Thirteen of the files have been closed and two others are still under review.

2.12 Candidates' election expenses

All candidates in a federal election are bound by the Act to report their election expenses. The 23 candidates in the November 2009 by-elections had until March 9, 2010, to submit the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return.

Any candidate who is elected or who receives at least 10 percent of the valid votes cast is eligible to receive election expenses reimbursements equal to 60 percent of paid election expenses and paid candidate personal expenses. In addition, any candidate who submits a return is eligible for an audit subsidy (paid directly to the campaign auditor) equal to the lesser of $1,500 or 3 percent of the candidate's election expenses; the minimum is $250.

Following the November 2009 by-elections, 13 candidates are eligible for reimbursement. Partial reimbursements already paid for these by-elections total $169,816.

2.13 Estimated cost of the by-elections

Table 9 presents the estimated cost of the November 2009 by-elections.

Table 9 – Estimated cost of the by-elections
Activity Cost
($ thousands)
Conduct of elections in the electoral districts, including expenses related to election workers and officers, printing the lists of electors, and leasing local Elections Canada offices and polling sites1
1,708.6
Preparations for and conduct of the election at Elections Canada in Ottawa and support to the returning officers, including election materials, training returning officers and other key employees, updating the National Register of Electors, advertising and awareness campaigns, the Support Network, and information technology2
444.4
Post-election studies and consultations, including surveys conducted by Elections Canada and post-mortem sessions with returning officers
82.0
Subtotal
2,235.1
Reimbursement of election expenses to candidates and political parties – projected cost3
327.4
Total estimated cost
2,562.5

1 Real expenditures as of March 19, 2010. Other minor expenditures may be added, but cannot be accurately estimated.

2 Estimated expenditures.

3 Estimated expenditures. The final amount is not known, as the candidates' records are being audited.