Canada’s 41st general election was held on May 2, 2011. There were bitter disputes over the results in some ridings after certain candidates won their seats with razorthin margins. To determine once and for all who won and who lost, judicial recounts were ordered in four ridings: Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup, Etobicoke Centre, Nipissing–Timiskaming, and Winnipeg Centre. This article looks at the history of judicial recounts, the process that was used to examine the ballots in Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup, and Mr. Justice Gilles Blanchet’s rulings on the disputed ballots.
Judicial recounts involve having a judge review the ballots to determine the election results in a riding. The process first appeared in federal electoral legislation in 18781 shortly following the introduction of the secret ballot.2