Some voters hoping to cast their ballots for the Conservative candidate were angry to discover that there is no candidate for the party in that riding, according to Elections Canada spokesperson Françoise Enguehard.
Those individuals “are basically showing their anger and taking aim at Elections Canada and election workers, as if Elections Canada had anything to do with it,” said Enguehard.
“I have to stress that Elections Canada does not select the candidate…. There are rules in place, but we do not dictate who runs and who doesn’t.”
The former Conservative candidate for that riding, Troy Myers, quit last month after he was accused of sexual assault. Myers has said that allegation is false.
The withdrawal happened just before candidate nominations closed, so the party did not find a replacement.
Enguehard said police have been called at two different locations after disgruntled voters made scenes and hurled verbal abuse at workers.
The returning officer had to deal with at least six threatening phone calls and Elections Canada has received about two dozen “very angry” calls about the situation.
That’s in addition to about 100 angry and abusive comments to workers in person, said Enguehard.
Monday was the most serious incident — and one that warranted a police call — where people were harassed outside the location at the Mic Mac Mall.
“So this is not an isolated thing,” said Enguehard.
“I can tell you that in all the years that I have done this work during elections — all the elections since 2005 — I have never witnessed such a situation.”
‘We just want fair and safe elections’
These incidents are concerning because people have the right to a fair, equitable and safe election, said Enguehard.
“It is not fair for the vast majority of electors who have come to vote peacefully, and want to do so in peace, to have to be subjected to this kind of behaviour,” she said.
Enguehard added that it’s especially not fair to the election workers, who work long hours and deserve to get through a shift without being threatened.
“It’s a difficult job, and it’s an important job. And they should be able to do so in peace without being harassed by a few individuals,” she said.
“We just want fair and safe elections.”