A trial date has been set for the Saint John Harbour voter irregularities case and will begin exactly four months after the fall 2018 New Brunswick election.
The June 24 date was set at a pre-trial conference on Thursday, the latest installment of the legal challenge to the result in the riding that liberal candidate Gerry Lowe won by 10 votes.
A recount held after the election upheld Lowe’s win, but defeated PC candidate Barry Ogden and his campaign manager Peter Josselyn launched the challenge soon after, alleging 78 instances of voter irregularities including at least one instance where a person appears to have voted twice.
On Thursday, Ogden campaign volunteer and election scrutineer David Keirstead faced cross-examination over an affidavit submitted to the court. Keirstead says that he observed some minor procedural issues on election day, but admitted when asked that the mistakes, mostly concerning incorrect poll station numbers, could have been the result of a clerical error.
WATCH: Saint John Harbour election controversy ramps up
When questioned by Lowe’s lawyer, Tom O’Neil, Keirstead also admitted that he made no inquiries into the documents received from Elections NB that would eventually make up the bulk of Ogden’s notice of complaint.
Importantly, Keirstead also clarified that he does not believe that Lowe, or any one working for him, engaged in any sort of wrongdoing, stating that the challenge is limited to procedural errors in the voting process, an admission that pleases Lowe.
“This just verifies that they now agree and Elections New Brunswick said it and now the people who brought this all on said it, so it makes me feel good. It makes the people that helped me get elected feel good too,” Lowe told reporters afterwards.
In a call back to one of the original pre-trial conferences Keirstead told court that a privileged report prepared exclusively for Elections New Brunswick’s solicitor was given to him by Mel Norton, former Saint John mayor and candidate for the PC leadership.
When Ogden’s lawyer Kelly VanBuskirk attempted to have the document admitted and publicly released it prompted an eruption from Elections NB lawyer Fred McElman, who then filed a motion to have VanBuskirk removed from the case, which Justice Hugh McLellan dismissed.
The document was never released publicly and it remains unclear what it contains or how Norton came into possession of the privelaged report.