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Battle brews over late ballots

Some MPs are questioning the wisdom of counting late ballots.

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Some politicians are pushing back against a federal plan to count election ballots a full 24 hours after election day, according to a report from Blacklock’s Reporter.

Federal returning officers said they will accept mailed ballots a day after polls close in an expected 2021 election, the Commons was told.

“I have difficulty with counting ballots after election day,” said Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia-Lambton, Ont.).

“We have always counted everything right up to election day. I think people have confidence in that.”

Gladu said she’s leery of anything that may open the door to “even perceived influence” in elections.

The MP said she was personally told by “many returning officers I have spoken to” that mailed ballots will be accepted after polls close on an election Monday.

“They think they will count them if they show up by Tuesday,” said Gladu.

Under the current Canada Elections Act, all ballots for counting must be received by the close of polls. However Bill C-19 An Act To Amend The Canada Elections Act would allow returning officers to receive mailed ballots as late as 6 p.m. the following day.

Elections Canada budgeted $10 million for distribution of postage-paid ballots. Only 49,545 mailed ballots were counted in the 2019 election, typically military and Canadian citizens working abroad. Five million mail-in ballots are being printed this year.

“Enhanced mail-in voting measures will ensure the system is easy to use, safe, accessible and responsive to the voters’ needs, especially those who are most vulnerable during the pandemic,” Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc wrote in a letter to the House affairs committee.

LeBlanc said cabinet “is of the view facilitating voting by mail would be a key aspect of running a fair election during the pandemic.”

LeBlanc in his letter cited “ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the myriad ways it could unexpectedly affect the rights of electors to vote safely.”

Covid-19 “has brought on new challenges to the way elections are administered,” wrote LeBlanc.

“What other types of things can he make decisions on given there would be no oversight?” Asked Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing, Ont.).

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

Mike D'Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief and Copy Editor for the Western Standard. He worked as an investigative crime reporter at the Calgary & Winnipeg Suns. mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tom

    May 11, 2021 at 9:00 am

    They need the extra day to know how many more mail-in ballots to send to win the election.

    trudeau is just doing what biden and the dems did in the U.S. election.

    This is total corruption!

  2. Left Coast

    May 10, 2021 at 10:57 am

    LeBlanc said cabinet “is of the view facilitating voting by mail would be a key aspect of running a fair election during the pandemic.” ? ? ?

    LeBlanc is a liar . . . last November it was fake Mail-in Ballots, some photocopied, some printed in foreign countries by the millions that created the situation of failure in the US today. State operatives changed the rules and they were counting ballots a week after election day.

    Today key states being audited manually . . . and the Demokkkrats are going nuts trying to stop the process. Why would they do that?

    LeBlanc is a fraud . . . 1 day would become a week and then why not use Dominion Machines to count the vote, the can be controlled by Wifi or Blue Tooth and each vote can be weighted . . . Cons .75 Libs 1.25 . . . just like they did in the US.

    Anyone who thinks Senile China Joe got more votes than Hillary & Obama is smokin Crack like Hunter Biden.

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LIVE: Election night 2021

Starting at 5:30 p.m.

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Vaccine passports now mandatory in Alberta

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

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The Alberta government’s new vaccine mandates for businesses, entities and events are in effect.

Each organization must follow one of two options: implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or comply with all public health restrictions as outlined in Order 42-2021.

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

The REP allows operators to avoid the majority of public health restrictions with the implementation of a proof of vaccination program, although vaccine requirements for staff are at the employer’s discretion. Face mask mandates are still required in all indoor spaces.

The program doesn’t apply to those under 12 years of age and businesses that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. As well, employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors will be permitted access to spaces without requiring a vaccine passport.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, adults need to provide valid photo identification that matches their paper or digital vaccine record showing name, vaccine type and date of administration. From now until October 25, proof of partial vaccination (one dose) will suffice, however after that date, proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Those under 12 will only need to show vaccination paperwork.

Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities that don’t implement the REP will be limited to one-third capacity of their fire code occupancy and attendees must be in household cohorts or with up to two close contacts if they live alone.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions, but attendees must maintain a two-metre distancing between households.  

Restaurants that don’t follow the REP cannot offer indoor dining, and outdoor dining will be limited to six people per table from one household, and liquor sales will have to end by 10 p.m. with consumption cut off by 11 p.m.

Retail, shopping malls and food courts aren’t eligible for the REP, therefore will be reduced to one-third capacity of fire code occupancy and are required to stop all in-person dining, switching to take out only.

Indoor private social gatherings will be permitted for those that are vaccinated to a maximum of two households up to 10 (vaccine eligible) vaccinated people. There are no restrictions for children under 12. For those who are unvaccinated, indoor social gatherings are not permitted.

Private outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people who are socially distanced.  

Churches will be limited to one-third of fire code capacity and masks and social distancing are still mandatory in places of worship.

Employees are mandated to work from home unless their physical presence is required for their duties.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter a polling place for Monday’s federal election although physical distancing, masking and other transmission reducing measures will be in place.

For more information on the Restriction Exemption Program, click here.   

Risdon is a reporter at the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.

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Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday, along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system, but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced it would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement: “Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have its own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18-plus entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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