Good Day Readers:
According to the Manitoba Metis Federation's constitution, ratified by the 37th Annual Assembly September 11, 2005, ARTICLE X PRESIDENT Item 2 Page 6 states in part:
"The President shall hold for a term, or terms, each of which shall not exceed four years and three months from the date of election ..... ."
Since the last general vote was held June 29, 2006 this means the Federation must call its next one by no later than September of 2010. Further, according to ARTICLE IV of the ELECTION BY-LAW Timeing of Election Item 1 page: 11
"There shall be no more than sixty days (60) between the date of the notice setting the date of the election and Election Day. In order to calculate compliance with this provision, the first day counted shall be the day after the date of the notice setting the date of the election and the last day counted shall be Election Day."
This would seem to suggest for a late September 2010 election the earliest it could be announced would be approximately beginning of August 2010.
Finally, ARTICLE III of the ELECTION BY-LAW Chief Electoral Officer Item (g) Page 10 states:
"Providing a written report to the Board of Directors of the MMF within 60 days from the date of the election."
There have been a couple issues that have plagued previous votes:
An Act was passed by Parliment during the 1980s by which an individual previously claiming to be Metis could file application with the federal government requestion to be re-classified as First Nations. Presumably a geneanology search is part of the process. Once a successful transition had been made it's irreversible. To ensure none of these persons find their way onto voters lists, the MMF requires input from Indian and Northern Affiars Canada
(2) Confirmation a voter is indeed Metis
It is our understanding the Federation has embarked on a program whereby every card carrying member will have to undergo a genealogy search. The question becomes how many will have satisfied that requirement by the time of the next election?
To the best of our knowledge, the Chief Electoral Officer's post election written report is not distributed to the general membership. Rather, for a behind the scenes glimpse we must rely upon court documents.
After the March 26, 2003 controversial election in which presidential candidate Yvon Dumont lost by 20 votes in a recount, he challenged the results in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench during April of that year. In January 2004, Justice Schulman ordered a new election be held for the position of President.
MMF lawyer Murray Trachtenberg (Posner & Trachtenberg
- www.ptlaw.mb.ca/ firstname.lastname@example.org
) filed an appeal and, unfortunately, the lower court decision was over turned. During that election retired Provincial Court Judge Alvin Hamilton was the Chief Electoral Officer. Here's his affidavit filed in connection with Mr. Dumont's legal challenge. It's indeed instructive.
We have emphasized (bold
) those sections worth noting.
Clare L. Pieuk
File No. C103-01-32742
IN THE QUEEN'S BENCH
W. Yvon Dumont a Presidential Candidate, Applicant
- and -
Manitoba Metis Federation Inc., the Honourable A.C. Hamiltion, Q.C., in his capacity of Chief Electoral Officer, and David Chartrand, a Presidential Candidate, Respondents
AFFIDAVIT OF ALVIN CHOWN HAMILTON
Hon. A.C. Hamilton Q.C.
4621 Roblin Boulebard
Fax No. 896-4512
I, Alvin Chown Hamilton, of the City of Winnipeg in the Province of Manitoba, Barrister and Solicitor, make oath and say:
1. I am currently the Chief Electoral Officer of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) having been appointed by the Board of Directors in December 2002 to conduct the 2003 triennial election. I am presently holding a by-election in the Thompson Region where two candidates for the second Board Member position have an equal number of votes.
2. I was also the Chief Electoral Officer for the election of 1994 and 1997 and assisted Laurie Messer who was the Chief Electoral Officer for the 2000 election.
3. I do not oppose the application of the applicant, nor do I support it. My responsibility as Chief Electoral Officer, is to be and to remain neutral in all matters.
4. This affidavit has been prepared to assist the Court and counsel by providing information to indicate how the election was conducted. The guiding documents were the MMF Constitution and Election By-law. In addition to following their requirements, I had to exercise my discretion in many areas, having been directed to "manage and conduct the election."
Due to the variety of interpretations of the by-laws that were expressed during this and prior elections, it was necessary to establish specific rules everyone had to follow. To provide the members an opportunity to officially put forward the many objections and concerns they had, a number of processes were developed to permit lists of voters and nominees to be challenged and the voters and the ballots to be challenged. Other systems were also required to aqccommodate the far-flung membership. Laurie Messer, one of my assistants, was to constant communication with Local Chairpersons, MMF Regional Offices, MMF Head Office and the DROs as the election proceeded.
5. Without attempting to justify or argue whether they were right or wrong, the following decisions were made by me in the course of the election:
(a) It was difficult in every MMF election with which I was involved, to obtain current lists of members so we could compile the List of Electors. I would have preferred to compile our voters list from a list of members that should exist at the MMF Head Office but, in spite of my urging after each election, their list of members is not up to date. We then had to work with the Chairpersons of the Locals who were suppopsed to have current lists. Many Chairpersons told us their lists were not up-to-date and directed us to contact their Regional Office, which they felt had a more current list.
Laurie Messer then contacted all the Regional Offices throughout the Province. Three of the seven seemed to have current memberships lists while others told us to use the Locals' list of members. Even the large Winnipeg Region did not have a current list of members. For example, it did not even contain the name of the current MMF President. We assisted some Chairpersons update their membership lists by checking the lists they used in earlier elections that were in our possession.
The most complete lists we could develop were then sent to the Chairperson of each Local for confirmation. We asked them to post the list in a prominent place in their community. February 7, 2003 was set as the deadline to challenge the lists to question the right of a person to be on the list or to challenge the absence of a name. Few, if any, requests to alter the lists were received from individuals, although some Chairpersons asked that further names be added.
The Poll Books and Lists of Electors were then prepared from the membership lists and were forwarded to each DRO prior to March 1st, three weeks before the election. The Chair of each Local was advised where his or her members could vote.
(b) As communication with the DROs continued, it came to my attention that some Chairpersons had removed a large number of names from their list of members in the mistaken belief a person who seemed to have moved away could not vote with their Local. A notice was sent to the DROs, each candidate, the Regional Office and the Head Office on March 7, 2003 saying the removal of a name was improper unless the member had indicated his or her intention to establish another permanent residence.
Several Chairpersons neglected to update their membership lists at all. After they received their final List of Electors from our office they called wishing to add names. Some names were of Metis who had turned 18 since the last election. The Chair was advised it was too late for us to add names and all they could do was advise those members to go to the poll on election day and see if the DRO would add them.
The Chairperson of one Winnipeg Local telephoned Laurie Messer after the final list had been distributed to say a large block of voters, including two candidates who had been been on the initial list, had been inadvertently removed. It turned out that when the Local forwarded a computer disk containing a list of members after the draft list was distributed, we assumed it was the list of all members of the Local and the earlier draft list was not used. To correct the error, Laurie Messer gave the Winnipeg DROs the names that had been inadvertently removed and authorized them to add those names to the list if they appeared to vote on election day. The Poll Books will show those voters as having been added on election day.
Two Locals where unintentional mistakes were made were Swan River and Dauphin. In one, all the Metis members who did not have an MMF card, including the current Vice President, were removed from the list of members. In the other, the names of members who had moved from the community were removed. The DROs were instructed to add these names to their Poll Book on election day.
(c) Similar problems had been encountered in previous elections and rules had to be developed to permit qualified members to be added to the Voters List and to the Poll Books on election day. Several criteria and rules were developed:
(i) I instructed the DROs to add a name on election day if the DRO, and any Scrutineers who were present, knew the person was Metis and was a member of the Local.
(ii) If a person had an MMF membership card that had been issued more than 6 months ago, and they had voted at an earlier election (which our office could quickly determine) they should be allowed to vote.
(iii) If the membership card was more recent or if it had been issued by a Regional Office, and the person's name could not be found on the List of Electors at a pervious election, they should not be allowed to vote. I took the position that the by-laws required Locals, not Regional offices, to issue all membership cards.
(iv) In preparation for election day we gave the DROs a dedicated telephone number and instructed them to telephone if they were concerned about adding a name to their Poll Book on election day. We would then check the voters lists for the 1997 and 2000 elections to see if the person was on the voters list at that time. If we found the person's name, we would authorize the DRO to add their name and permit the person to vote, subject to the usual challenges they had authority to deal with. If we could not find the name on an earlier list, we instructed the DRO not to let the person vote. If the DRO and scrutineers were satisfied the person was Metis and a member of a Local they did not have to telephone but could add the name themselves.
(v) This system was not foolproof, but it was th best system I could devise, particularly when faced with allegations that some Chairpersons intentionally removed the names of some members and I had no idea how widespread that practice was. In checking a name to see if it was on a former list, we frequently checked the list of other Polling Places to make sure the person was not on two lists. When a DRO added a name after phoning us, they were directed to indicate in the Poll Book that the name had been added with my approval.
(vi) During the 2003 election, approximately 450 electors were added to Poll Books by DROs. We do not have a breakdown at this time of how many were added with my approval and how many were added by Chairpersons without objection from a Scrutineer.
(vii) The rationale for looking to past lists of electors was they provided some proof the person was Metis, a member of the Federation and had voted without challenge at a pervious election.
(d) During the 1994 election, a number of problems developed with respect to the Advance Poll provisions of the MMF election by-law. It was difficult to engage DROs and Poll Clerks to sit in a Voting Station from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. waiting for advance-poll voters to appear. At most locations, no one voted at the advance poll.
The process was also very costly as we had to pay each of the 107 DROs and Poll Clerks for the Advance Poll as well as for the Regular Poll and in some cases for the rental of the hall where voting could take place.
Another problem was that, as a Voting Station was not established in every Local, many voters could not get to the advance poll at all or not without considerable expense. I had decided, after consultation with the MMF Head Office, there would be no Polling Station in a Local where less than 25 members had voted in the previous election.
To save money, make it easier for all members to vote and to accommodate those who could not get to an advance poll or the poll on election day, we established a "Mail-in Advance Poll." Procedures were developed to permit voters to apply to vote by mail. On receipt of an application, my assistant checked the voters list to make certain the person was on it. A form of declaration was then sent to the voter who had to return it with their marked ballot in a blank envelope. The voter was required to personally return both to the election office by a prescribed day. Once a person applied to vote by mail, the DRO was advised to mark the book and not let that member vote in person. These rules formed part of the Notice of Election.
The names of everyone who voted by mail were included in the final List of Electors and appeared in a Poll Book. Many mail-in voters were nevertheless challenged when their names, but not their ballots, where disclosed on March 24th.
6. In addition to the opportunity to challenge the voters list to which I referred, other dates were set during the 2003 election process to enable a variety of challenges to be made. All were taken advantage of:
(1) On February 10th and 11th I heard three challenges to the right of candidates to seek election. The candidates were represented by counsel or by another adviser. One candidate was successfully challenged and was removed from the list of nominees and from the ballot. The other challenges were rejected. Another was withdrawn.
(2) On March 24th the outer mail-in envelopes were opened in my presence and Scrutineers for the various candidates were present and were able to challenge the right of those who voted by mail to have voted at all. Many voters were challenged but I ordered their votes be counted. The ballots of those who were challenged had a number placed on the back of them and a corresponding number was placed opposite their name in the poll book. This was done to enable a court, if it wished, to examine the challenge and determine for whom the person had voted. I have not permitted anyone to look at or compare the identifying numbers.
(3) When voters were challenged at the time of voting on election day, if the DRO permitted them to vote, the challenge was noted in the Poll Book, numbers were applied and the ballots were placed in an envelope marked "Challenged but Voted."
7. Approximately 32,200 names were on the voters lists.
Approximately 7,100 members voted.
Approximately 450 names were added on Election Day.
All but 100 election day voters were on a prior MMF list of electors.
58 mail-in voters on the Winnipeg list were challenged and 36 of them were added to one Locals list of members after the initial list of members was received by my office. In a subsequent examination of the names that were challenged, 25 do not appear on any previous MMF list of voters. Only 6 rural mail-in voters were challenged, all from the North West Region. Three of the challenges were allowed and the ballots were not counted. Three were rejected and their ballots went into a "Challenged by Voted" envelope.
8. I am reluctant to discuss these matters with individual counsel but am prepared to do so at a meeting where all counsel are present. I am of course prepared to clarify any matter or provide any further information the Court requests.
The Affidavit was sworn in Winnipeg on April 29, 2009. The signature of the notary who signed off on it is unintelligible.