WINNIPEG — Some polling stations in the hotly contested riding of Winnipeg Centre opened up to an hour late Monday because “a bunch” of Elections Canada workers cancelled at the last minute.
Spokeswoman Marie-France Kenny wouldn’t say exactly how many people didn’t show up as promised, but she added it was more than a dozen.
“A dozen people we’re prepared for,” said Kenny, who added that each polling station has a list of people on standby in case some workers aren’t able to make it.
Lineups formed outside some polling stations as workers were brought in from other electoral districts. Kenny said some polls could stay open past the official closing time of 8:30 p.m. depending on demand.
NDP incumbent Pat Martin was in a battle with Liberal challenger Robert-Falcon Ouellette for the seat. Both the NDP and the Liberals said the lack of staff should be addressed before Canadians go to the polls next time.
Lorraine Sigurdson, Martin’s campaign manager, said Elections Canada was having trouble recruiting staff in the riding.
“It is always a discouragement to voters when they arrive to vote and cannot vote in a timely fashion,” she said. “There has to be some problem-solving done before the next election to ensure this does not happen again.”
Ouellette’s spokesman, Dougald Lamont, said the delays were caused because Elections Canada wanted the polls staffed by people from the riding of Winnipeg Centre before allowing people who live in other ridings to work there.
“I understand that Elections Canada was having some issues with recruitment and was even advertising for spares last week,” he said. “It is a staffing issue related to some rules that should certainly be changed in future elections.”
The delays shouldn’t discourage anyone from voting in the riding, he added.
“Everyone should get out and vote.”
The Canadian Press