Recounts expected after tight wins in Montreal, demerged cities

·4 min read
Candidates around the Montreal area are calling for recounts, after several races ended with slim margins of victory. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Candidates around the Montreal area are calling for recounts, after several races ended with slim margins of victory. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Parties and candidates across the island of Montreal are calling for judicial recounts in the wake of the municipal election, after several races ended with slim margins of victory.

The boroughs of Outremont and Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, as well as the demerged cities of Pointe-Claire and the Town of Mount-Royal (TMR) all have candidates requesting recounts.

The recount process is not automatic. To trigger a recount, there must be "reasonable grounds" to believe the poll workers have "improperly counted or rejected votes or [have] drawn up an incorrect statement of the number of votes cast."

The arguments are heard by a judge, who then rules on whether or not the recount should proceed.

Some tight races

Valérie Plante's party, Projet Montréal, is asking for the results to be verified in two races that narrowly went to Ensemble Montréal.

Laurent Desbois of Ensemble was elected mayor of Outremont with only 23 votes more than Projet's incumbent candidate, Philipe Tomlinson.

Projet has also requested a recount in one of the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough council races. Suzie Miron of Projet lost the Tétreaultville race to Ensemble's Julien Hénault-Ratelle by just 50 votes.

Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada
Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada

Ensemble Montreal has not yet called for any recounts, despite narrowly losing some races.

Ensemble Montréal's Lionel Perez was initially projected be the next mayor of Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, but was ultimately defeated by Projet's Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, who took the city's most populous borough by 212 votes.

In Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trembles, Projet's Lisa Christensen won the city councillor race in Pointe-aux-Prairies a mere 13 votes ahead of Ensemble's Vincent Girard.

Volunteers raised concerns in TMR: mayor

In TMR, two councillors who ran with Équipe Peter Malouf are also calling for recounts. Sarah Morgan and Robert Tannous lost their district races by 24 votes and 13 votes, respectively.

Malouf, who was sworn in as mayor of the town on Thursday, said a recount would reassure everyone that the system works.

"It's really all about democracy, and it's really not a personal thing," he told CBC.

Malouf said that his team had volunteer scrutineers at the counting who raised concerns. Those volunteers said they will testify to back up the request of a recount, he said.

He said he hopes the recount allows the candidates on all sides to move forward, comparing the election to a hockey game.

"You go there, you have a good game and everybody rubs each other into the boards or whatever they have to do. And at the end of the game, you come out and shake hands," Malouf said.

"You had a good game and you look forward to working together going forward. It's over."

'It better be a serious concern'

Michael Polak, a lawyer representing outgoing Pointe-Claire mayor John Belvedere, confirmed that their team would be calling for a judicial recount as well.

Belvedere, the incumbent, lost the race to Tim Thomas by 61 votes.

"[Belvedere] judged that the results were extremely close in a population of that size and there were certain anomalies … that justified in our eyes the request for a recount," Polak said.

Polak said they would contact Thomas and his lawyer to ask them to support the request.

When reached by CBC News, Thomas said he was going to leave the question squarely in the judge's hands.

CBC
CBC

"I don't see any reason for the process to be questioned," Thomas said. "And if you do question that, you're questioning the competence of the professionals who are engaged in the process. So it better be legitimate and it better be a serious concern and not just opportunism."

Thomas said he was disappointed that his margin of victory wasn't bigger, but said he was concerned about how a recount could undermine people's confidence in the vote.

"We've seen that happening in the United States, right?" he said. "It can throw doubt into the legitimacy of the democratic system, and that's a problem. If we start doing that too much, the system may not end up working."

On the other hand, Polak, the lawyer, said he was surprised there weren't more calls for recounts, considering how many tight races there were in this year's elections.

"There's a certain expense to doing it," he said, referring to lawyer's fees, as an example. "There's some stress in doing it. Sometimes [candidates] just let it go. Just because you lose an election doesn't mean you automatically ask for a recount."

"But sometimes when the result is that tight and there are so many ballots cast, you want to be certain of the outcome."

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