"The Joys of Elections Canada Paperwork" - Factchecker
The following appeared on the Factchecker website - May 9, 2011:
"Among the biggest sore losers this past week over the NDP orange crush are Liberal candidate and former PLQ MNA Francine Gaudet and Bourassa MP Denis Coderre. They are charging that 90 of newly-elected NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brousseau’s 128 signatures are not valid because they say the candidates name was not at the top of the page when the document was signed. They also say signatories did not know what they were signing for. (In retrospect, some might say that can be a euphemism for the entire NDP surge in Quebec.)
Nomination papers are part of the bureaucratic wonderfulness that is democracy in this country. Every candidate has to collect 100 signatures endorsing their opportunity to represent the riding. In most cases, the candidates are too busy campaigning to collect the signatures so campaign workers go out and collect them on the candidate’s behalf.
In Berthier Maskinonge, defeated Liberal candidate Gaudet and Liberal MP for Bourassa Denis Coderre are saying the person who collected Ruth Ellen’s signatures did a poor job because several do not live in the riding and others did not know what they were signing. These are serious allegations and the two are considering challenging Brousseau’s “crushing” win in court.
Some observers have qualms about how the media and these two veteran politicians are picking on Brousseau. She is under fire for spending part of the campaign in Las Vegas, never having gone to the riding, and not speaking the first language of 99% of the people in the riding. All serious issues but none that should get someone disqualified.
As mentioned above, staffers often collect these signatures in place of the candidates. They witness all the signatures and prepare the document to be submitted to Elections Canada. The three main charges are that several people say they did not sign the paper, other signatures are from those who are not in the riding, and that as Brousseau’s name was not on the document, they did not know what they were signing.
I would like to note that the official Elections Canada document states that you are supporting the candidate listed on page 1 of this nomination form. However, nobody gets shown page 1, partly because it has the candidate’s name, telephone number, and address. In fact even Elections Canada, when preparing the papers, separates the signatures from the other documents.
Many people have never seen nomination papers before, so I decided to go get some to show people what they are like. Coderre’s electoral returning office was a 5 minute drive from my parent’s house so I said what the heck!
Elections Canada vets the signatures and in Coderre’s case, of the 129 signatures collected, 1 was duplicate, and 17 others were flagged because they were not on the electoral list, leaving Coderre with 111 signatures, but still enough to get 100 easily.
I do not plan on calling these 111 people to see if they actually signed this. Many important names appear on this list like the Quebec minister of Education, city councillors, schoolboard officials, etc. They all knew they were signing for Coderre.
One major charge from Gaudet and Coderre is that as the name up there was blank, nobody knew what they were signing. Coderre stated that six of the 11 pages of signatures for Brosseau did not contain her name, which was only added later by an Elections Canada official. (Source: Helene Vastel, Canadian Press)
Coderre’s official documents only have the first page signed. In this case, the Elections Canada official didn’t add his name anywhere. (Note: I circled the name of the candidate on the first page to add emphasis.
Am I saying Denis Coderre should be disqualified because his staff incorrectly filled out some paperwork? No. But the question needs to be asked. Why are they trying to disqualify a duly elected MP for a staffer’s faulty paperwork when their own staffers cannot even fill out the form properly themselves?
22484 people voted for this single mom from Ottawa, more than voted for any Liberal candidate in all of Quebec. Would any of these people not sign papers endorsing her right to run when 225 times as many people voted for her?"
Anthony Di Domizio