You really have to wonder what was going through the head of Michael Sona, communications director for Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke, when he barged into the special advance ballot arranged by Elections Canada for students at Guelph University, "making a huge scene stating that this polling station was illegal and tried to grab for the ballot box."
Maybe he thought the two previously successful federal election polls held at U of G were quite enough. Maybe he saw another party's ads too close to the polling station. Maybe, like John Baird, he found all this 'get out the youth vote' flash mob stuff to be "disconcerting".
Or just maybe he realized there was no friggin way there was anything like a majority of Con votes among those 700 sealed votes in those ballot boxes. In which case - interesting he would cop to that.
Guelph was also where the original non-partisan vote mob was held on April 4th in response to Rick Mercer's challenge to young people to "do the unexpected" and get out and vote.
The Cons didn't much care for that one either :
Several students who were participants in the non-partisan "Surprise! Youth are voting!" flash mob outside the Con rally in Guelph were refused entry into the Con rally afterwards by the RCMP despite having registered for it :Now the Conservative Party of Canada has written to Elections Canada yesterday to disqualify the Guelph students' votes :
"A Conservative Party of Canada official approached them and indicated they were not welcome because of their involvement in an action that was perceived as a protest by party insiders".
"request that none of the votes collected during the U of G session be included in the final tally of votes in the Guelph riding. The letter was sent by lawyer Arthur Hamilton, of Toronto-based law firm, Cassels Brock."[Say, aren't you the same Con lawyer who dished the dirt on Helena Guergis? ]
"Elections Canada media advisor James Hale said this was the third election during which the university of Guelph held a special ballot on campus. And this is the first time it’s ever been challenged, Hale said."Well you know the Cons aren't overly fond of Elections Canada either at the moment.
Meanwhile the Vote Mobs : Youth are voting this election! rolls on across the country. Watch their vids. Pretty inspiring stuff.
More : Dr. Dawg.
Friday Night Update : Elections Canada rejects Tory effort to annul votes at University of Guelph
The Guelph ballot collection was not technically an advance poll but rather a way to collect a batch of 'special' ballots which are put in sealed envelopes and then the students' names will then be checked against the voters list on May 2. So to answer Con lawyer's complaint - proximity of election ads to collection box presumably even not an issue. Former DRO James Bow explains it at Dr. Dawg's.
Elections Canada News Release via Dammit Janet :
"A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid."So the Guelph campus vote has been validated by Elections Canada, however EC has ruled against future ballot collection sessions on campus instead of at the local EC office.
Score one for the Cons here. Remember this was the third election that such a ballot collection session was held on Guelph campus to enable students in the middle of exams to vote. Con operative makes a grab for the ballot box, Con Party sends off lawyery letter, and now EC has clarified against any other campus doing this for students
They really are the Contempt party, aren't they?
Saturday Night Update : Elections Canada Senior General Counsel issues what appears to be a mild rebuke of the Con spin :
"In his letter, Mr. Hamilton refers to calls that were placed yesterday to the Public Inquiries unit regarding the situation at Guelph University and the statements made by Mr. Boutet who tried to assist him. I have spoken to Mr. Boutet and he indicated that he had not understood the situation as described in Mr. Hamilton's letter."Lead Now : Tell Elections Canada: Let Students Vote on Campus