Local filmmaker and former mayoral candidate Ed Ackerman believes that he was unlawfully excluded from the Oct. 27 civic election and has appeared in court five times in order to have the election re-called with his name on the ballot.
“This election is false,” Ackerman said, sitting outside the Court of Queen’s Bench on Nov. 12, shortly after Justice Kenneth R. Hanssen ruled to dismiss his legal motion against the City of Winnipeg.
On Sept. 21, the final date for candidates to be nominated for mayor, Ackerman believes that Marc Lemoine, the city’s senior election official, unjustifiably discounted 96 names on his nomination papers.
Lemoine decided that Ackerman was below the 250 eligible voters required to be nominated and had no right to appear on the ballot.
“I have (over 250) eligible voters, who reside in Winnipeg,” Ackerman said. “I’m a candidate if you read the letter of the law.”
However, Justice Hanssen agreed with the city’s decision.
Based on election legislation, the judge determined that the majority of the 96 names were invalid because the addresses on the nomination paper did not correspond with the addresses that appear on the city’s voters list, which is based on the National Register of Electors compiled by Elections Canada.
According to section 42 (3) of the provincial Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Act, “for the office of mayor … the names, addresses and signatures of at least 250 voters whose names appear on the voters list … are required to support a nomination.”
Justice Hansen conceded that the wording of the section is slightly ambiguous. However, he ultimately ruled that Ackerman was never eligible to appear on the ballot past Sept. 21.
John Paskievich, 62, is an independent filmmaker and Ackerman’s long-time friend. He has joined him throughout the court battle.
“The process could be improved,” he said, adding that nominations are designed to exclude people who change their address regularly, which is most likely the low-income population.
He added that Ackerman only received a copy of the final voters list, which is used to determine whether a nomination is valid, when he appeared in court on Sept. 28.
According to Michael Jack, the city’s lawyer on the case, disqualified candidates have no right to see the final voters list.
“I think that what the city is doing is eliminating so-called fringe and nuisance characters,” Paskievich said.
Marc Lemoine believes that he was especially accommodating to Ackerman’s needs.
“We (the city clerk’s department) wanted to make sure that Mr. Ackerman was comfortable (with the decision),” he said, adding that he spent four hours on Sept. 21 pouring over each name with Ackerman by his side.
Lemoine added that all mayoral candidates are given a preliminary voters list and can check names on their nomination papers at the city clerk’s office between May 1 and Sept. 21, a four month “window of opportunity.”
Ackerman did not at any point get his nomination papers verified at the city clerks office until the last possible date, Lemoine said.
On the other hand, Ackerman believes that it is impossible to determine the validity of a nomination paper without checking whether the signatures are genuine, which the senior election official does not do. He also thinks that there needs to be an independent third party who can review a candidate’s nomination papers.
Ackerman is now attempting to challenge the decision through an application for a judicial review of the administrative law practiced by Mark Lemoine, which would ostensibly take the matter to the federal level.
To read more about this case, read Ethan Cabel’s previous article and blog post at www.tinyurl.com/ECabel1 and www.tinyurl.com/ECabel2.
Published in Volume 65, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 25, 2010)