"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Speaking of provincial statutes being ignored...

As Polemic and Paradox notes, there are no time limits on when provincial political finance reports have to be made public. The 2006 provincial finance contributions were not published to the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador site until March of this year.

And as this corner has noted previously, there's a curiously long wait for the official poll-by-poll results of the last provincial general election.

So what if Nova Scotians already have full poll-by-polls from last fall's by-election. For that matter, the lucky bluenosers have poll-by-poll results online for general and by-elections going back to the 1930s.

Likewise, Elections New Brunswick has recent by-election results posted.

In Quebec, the unbelievably obliging DGEQ has downloadable Excel-manipulatable versions of recent general election results, and, even more impressively, of the by-elections in the current legislature, as recently as May of 2008.

Ontario, the most populous province, has full poll-by-poll results for the general provincial election held on day off Dannystan's last October. Manitoba gives you poll-by-polls, as does Saskatchewan (again in Excel format!), a province roughly twice as populous as NL, and whose general election was held a month later. Indeed, the hyperefficient Saskabushers even have published poll-by-poll results of a by-election that was held two weeks ago.

On the Left Coast, B.C. has full poll-by-polls of the last provincial election available, and, in another sign of, well, basic competence, even manages to publish financial reports, most of the time, in the first four months of the following calendar year.

And at the federal level, poll-by-polls have been published for the most recent batch of by-elections to fill House of Commons vacancies.

In Dannystan? See for yourself.

Of recent by-elections — Ferryland, Kilbride, Port au Port, Humber Valley, and Labrador West 2007 — nary a sign.

There's a financial report on line for Exploits 2005, but no other by-elections. The MUN library catalogue reveals the existence of the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on election finances for the by elections held in the districts of Placentia & St. Mary's February 21st, 2006, but not the election results; and also of the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi by election November 1, 2006... but not the financials. And MUN's library system has no record of a paper copy of any report since the 2003 general election results were published in 2004.

(Both of those by-election documents are also still listed as "in-process" at the cataloguing department of the library, suggesting that they are recent arrivals.)

Maybe the Government of Dannystan doesn't like to do things the way other provinces or the federal government do. (Like, say, appointing competent non-partisan people to hold the highest office responsible for the non-partisan and transparent conduct of electoral affairs.)

That's fine.

It's stupid.

It runs contrary to Williams Government's quaint pledge to post stuff on the internets within 30 days.

But fine. At least in so far as financial data are concerned, Paul Reynolds, the former President of the current governing party, isn't running afoul of any rules.

Nor did his predecessor, a former Liberal cabinet minister.

However — on the poll-by-poll results front, the Elections Act is clear:

Compiling statistics

214. The Chief Electoral Officer shall publish within 9 months after each general election and each by-election a book containing pertinent statistics of the election, including poll-by-poll results of each electoral district.
The Chief Electoral Officer shall. That's mandatory language.

"Publish". The only sign that any recent electoral results have been published is the library catalogue entry noted above. (And no, offering to mail a copy to anyone who thinks to ask, does not constitute "publishing.")

And "within 9 months".

In respect of the Exploits by-election, that mandatory nine-month deadline expired on March 23, 2006. For Placentia & St. Mary's, the deadline was November 21, 2006. For Signal Hill—Quidi Vidi, it was August 1, 2007. For Ferryland, Port au Port, and Kilbride, November 8, 2007. Humber Valley and Labrador West met the deadline five days later.

And for the general election of 2007, having been held on October 9, 2007 — the day before the much-larger Ontario, whose poll-by-polls have been available for quite some time now — that mandatory statutory deadline was on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008.


At 5:13 PM, July 10, 2008 , Blogger Liam said...

This is the blog post of the year.

Thank you for this. The Elections NL website really is terrible, and falls way behind the other provinces. It doesn't have any statistics before confederation. It doesn't compile post-confederate results by party past 1999, and from what I can gather doesn't publish any poll-by-poll data except for 2003 (and you're right, it isn't easy to find).

Also check out the FAQ section where it says: "In the House of Assembly there are currently 12 Liberals, 35 Progressive Conservatives, and 1 New Democrat."

They also have a very poor ability to respond to emails. I've emailed their main 'contact us' email a few times regarding their advanced polling and special voting procedures and have not gotten any replies.

As a graduate student, I also had to change my thesis topic and supervisors when my supervisors and I realized that not only do the libraries here in BC have limited resources about NL election data, but also when we realized that the Elections NL website didn't help in any way.

It's no surprise then that that agency serves little other purpose than an employment agency for party hacks and friends of the current Premier.

At 5:34 PM, July 10, 2008 , Blogger WJM said...


Emailify me.

At 6:15 PM, July 10, 2008 , Blogger Edward Hollett said...

I sent two e-mails today on this same topic to the House of Assembly and to the OCEO.

I have yet to receive an acknowledgement of the e-mail, even though it only takes seconds to produce it.

I doubt I will receive a reply at all.

Experience in dealing with the OCEO in the past is that it is exremely difficult to find someone to talk to and, as for e-mails, virtually impossible to get anyone to answer the general mail box.

If we knew the personal e-mails of the staff we might have a better chance but those seem to be state secrets.

At 8:06 PM, July 10, 2008 , Blogger Mark said...

Liam - the troubles with Elections NL, and the Elections Act in general, are too numerous to mention. It's time people became genuinely outraged about this nonsense.

At 11:44 PM, July 10, 2008 , Blogger Peter L. Whittle said...

Well so much for my next post. I was waiting on some replies regarding the gaps in by-election reports from the HOA.

What would be interesting might be to ask for the election offices business plan. They have to file one. See where they stand. Its all part of the new accountability legeslation.

An issue we can work on together. Nice!


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