CALGARY -- Reformers are demanding answers to the mysterious deletion of the names of all their candidates from Elections Canada's Internet electoral listings.
Reform's chief campaign strategist, Rick Anderson, said: "We basically have two main questions, how did it happen and when?" "It's possible it was a technical problem or a human error, but even if that is the case, don't they have any safeguards to check against this?"
Elections Canada closed the Web site yesterday after learning that Reformers had been left off the Internet list of all registered candidates in Canada's 301 federal ridings - including Reform Leader Preston Manning's riding.
"The problem only crept up recently", said Elections Canada spokesman John Enright. "It's less than a day."
Advance polls were opened Friday to allow voting by Canadians here and overseas who will be unable to vote on June 2. The glitch raises the possibility electors intending to vote Reform may not have bothered to vote if left with the impression there was no Reform candidate for their riding.
Technical experts were trying to pinpoint exactly when it happened, Enright said. Anderson said he was still trying to find out whether the faulty list was used only on the Internet.
"We are still awaiting a definitive answer on whether our candidates' names were at least on the separate printed list Elections Canada sends out with the advance poll ballots", Anderson said.
"I think if people have cast ballots without complete information they're probably going to have to conduct that balloting over again." Asked if he thought the deletion of the Reform candidates names was suspicious, Anderson replied: "What do you think?"
Voters at advance polls are given a list of candidates' names while mail-in voters must write the name of their choice on a blank ballot, said Enright. He added that lists of candidates are available at military bases, embassies, and consulates.
Enright said he didn't know how many people have already used the site to make voting choices. A Reform party official said as many as 600 people in one day have looked at the site's page on Manning's Calgary Southwest riding.
Manning said he was at a loss to explain what had happened. "I'm surprised ... we have done more work with Elections Canada than any other party about getting information on the Internet", he said.
The Elections Canada candidates list was located at www.elections.ca/ridings/find/allcan.pdf - but it wasn't yet corrected when checked last night.
-- With files from CP