They weren’t dirty tricks by a long shot, but a couple of unusual circumstances occurred during the 2015 election campaign in North Okanagan-Shuswap.
Dan Shields, owner of McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility in Salmon Arm, confirms that a mobile voting poll came to the facility on election day, Oct. 19.
“Typically they come and set up a temporary polling booth, and so they came and made arrangements to do so like they always do. They were coming from 9 a.m. to 10:30.”
He said a sign was put up announcing when the poll would be open.
“On the day of the election, most of the residents were there right when it opened, just finishing breakfast and they’re eager…”
However, one person came by at 10:15 and, on the sign, the ‘three’ in 10:30 had been replaced by a zero.
“He said, ‘That’s not right’ and handed me his registration card.”
So Shields phoned Elections Canada who said they would send the employee back. Then Elections Canada called back to say the polling person had spoken to one of Shields’ employees who said the poll didn’t need to be there the whole hour and a half.
“Realistically, no one had that power” to shut down a polling station early, says Shields, particularly when all the residents received voter information cards outlining when and where to vote. He then called Elections Canada staff back and told them the resident was pretty upset. They said they’d see what they could do.
In the meantime, the resident “went upstairs and apparently called his lawyer,” says Shields.
The person staffing the polling station returned after a short while and took the station right to the resident’s room, where he voted.
“It was a bunch of running around,” says Shields. “The only thing going through my head was, every vote counts and if you put a card out saying 9 to 10:30 then you’re there 9 to 10:30…
“And everybody in the end got their vote.”
At Elections Canada, spokesperson John Enright said he can’t comment on individual polling stations at this time, as he doesn’t know if there were any extenuating services.
However, he says, “if the hours are posted, those are the hours.”
At Cindy Derkaz’s Liberal campaign office, an oddity occurred regarding phoning.
Volunteers would be in the office and would receive calls. They would be from people who had just received a call from the office number and it would be a hang-up, with no one there, and they didn’t know why they’d been called.
However, no one in the office had called them, explained Derkaz.
She said Telus was unable to provide an answer.
“I think it will remain a mystery,” she says.
To be proactive, Derkaz’s campaign office send out an alert.
“It appears that our Vernon office number 250-549-8420 has been hijacked since Oct. 14 and some unknown source is making unauthorized calls to supporters… If you did receive a call from this number since Oct 14, please accept our apologies and know that we are deeply concerned and doing all we can to find the source and stop them.”
Derkaz said the concern arose based on dirty tricks in the 2011 election, where, in one Toronto riding, for instance, donors were getting phoned at 2 a.m. just prior to the election demanding money for the Liberal candidate.
Nothing like that happened in the North Okanagan-Shuswap.
“We don’t know if it was an individual or a glitch… In some way once it stopped, we didn’t feel it was worth pursuing,” Derkaz says.
Asked about the occurrence, Election Canada’s John Enright said the only explanation he can think of offhand would be an automatic dialler that is usually generated from a third-party location.