Progressive Conservative party president defends Manitoba leadership vote in court

WINNIPEG — The president of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives defended the vote that saw Premier Heather Stefanson become leader of the party during a court challenge by her rival.

Progressive Conservative party president defends Manitoba leadership vote in court
© Provided by The Canadian Press

Shelly Glover, who lost last month to Stefanson by a small margin, has alleged there were irregularities when ballots were counted and wants a Court of Queen’s Bench judge to order a new vote.

Glover, in an affidavit filed to court, has said her campaign received a spreadsheet early in the morning on the day of the vote with numbers that didn’t match the final outcome.

Progressive Conservative party president Tom Wiebe told court Monday that the spreadsheet was never intended to be the final tally of votes and campaign leaders were aware.

Wiebe, during the cross-examination of his affidavit, defended the election count and said “that spreadsheet was … strictly to tell them who had voted.”

Wiebe, who also acted as the returning officer for the election, said the votes were counted at 18 tables — and only one table saw a recount after scrutineers and counters disagreed on an outcome. After two additional counts, Wiebe said everyone agreed on the tally of votes at that table.

“It was deemed to be correct because everybody at the table went along with it,” Wiebe told court.

Glover, her scrutineer and two other supporters have filed affidavits to back her claim. Those affidavits are to face cross-examination on Tuesday.

Glover’s case is scheduled to be argued before a judge on Dec. 10.

Glover, a former member of Parliament and police officer, came up short with 49 per cent of the ballots in the Oct. 30 vote. When the results were announced, the ballots totalled 16,546, with Stefanson winning 51 per cent.

One of the people acting as a vote scrutineer for Glover’s team, in an affidavit, says he saw unsecured ballot boxes being moved out of the room where votes were counted.

Keith Findlay, a partner at a chartered professional accounting firm that helped conduct the vote, disputed that allegation. 

Findlay told court he was called back to the hotel where the vote was taking place due to a security issue. Findlay said he was told a police officer had attempted to access the room where the count was taking place to take control of it and provide security. 

However, Findlay said when he arrived he did not see any police officer.

In an often heated cross-examination of his affidavit, Findlay told court that once the ballots were counted, they were returned to 16 boxes and taken to his vehicle, where they were guarded by a security firm. 

He later took the boxes of ballots back to a secure room in the accounting firm’s offices, court heard. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2021. 

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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