Canadians may not be able to bet on sporting events before the next election, but it seems as though gambling is enshrined in our electoral system. Oh, we’ve all heard that the Prime Minister or the Opposition or Justin Trudeau is making a gamble doing (or not doing) such and such. What’s more, we recognize that our elections are effectively a live-action version of “Scratch and Lose.” However, in some parts of Canada, namely P.E.I., gambling is literally written in to the elections laws.
Everyone has been focusing on how PC Leader Rob Lantz lost his riding by a mere 24 votes. Instead of resigning (which may have made him the shortest lived Leader of the Opposition in Canadian history), Lantz decided to contest the vote and request a recount.
The riding of Vernon River-Stratford was even closer: Liberal Alan McIssac won over PC Mary Ellen McInnis by a mere two votes. This is Prince Edward Island. Voter turnout might be the highest in the country at 84%, but the goings on of Anne’s Island aren’t readily in the public eye.
McInnis (the loser) requested a recount of McIssac’s win. With names as similar as those two, it’s understandable that some voters (and electoral officers) could be confused. Pointedly, one was and had originally given McIssac a ballot which was cast for McInnis, making neither of them the McWinner and leaving the riding of Vernon River-Stratford tied.
“Where it is reported to the returning officer pursuant to section 101 that an equality of votes is found to exist between candidates, the returning officer shall, in the presence of at least two of the persons authorized to be present under subsection 94(1), toss a coin to determine the winning candidate.”
Yes, of all the bizarre things in Canadian politics (from being ruled by a Queen and controlled by a dictator), the fact that an election result can be up to a game of chance is probably one of the most incredible. What’s more, P.E.I. the not only location in which this is the case. Evan Solomon, in discussing McIssac’s reaction to the method, recalled a similar tie in Nova Scotia that had been decided by drawing a name from a hat.
McIssac, the newly confirmed MLA for Vernon River-Stratford, could only highlight how imperative each and every vote is in an election. Quite rightly too! In any case, McIssac won the toss, and I I thought our electoral system was already bad enough.