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Office of the Chief Electoral Officer
April 21, 2009

The following statement was issued today by the Chief Electoral Officer, Paul Reynolds:

St. Barbe By-Election 2001

When I was initially made aware of possible unreported election expenditures of $3,000 relating to the January 30, 2001 by-election held in the electoral district of St. Barbe, I initiated a review of the filings in question.

As a consequence, I spoke directly with the Progressive Conservative (PC) candidate for the by-election and PC Party officials regarding what they knew of the situation. They indicated that they became aware of this issue when the statement of facts relating to the Ed Byrne Constituency Allowance fraud case was brought forward by a CBC reporter, this being the same time that my office was made aware of the situation. They also indicated that at the time the related finance reports for the by-election were filed, they were of the belief and understanding that all legitimate expenses relating to the by-election had been disclosed.

The Elections Act, 1991, establishes that both candidates and political parties are subject to expenditure limits for their election related expenses, the purpose being to provide as level a playing field as possible in prohibiting any individual party or candidate from spending in excess of the legislatively permitted amount. For the 2001 St. Barbe by-election, the expenditure limits for both the political party and for individual candidates was $25,743. The reports filed on behalf of the PC candidate in the 2001 by-election and by the party indicated election expenses totaling $17,362. Even including the amount of $3,000 identified in the statement of facts released with respect to the Ed Byrne criminal proceedings, neither the PC candidate nor the party would have exceeded the legislated expenditure limits for the electoral district in that by-election.

As for the involvement of a PC Party worker in the election campaign, it is not only acceptable under the Elections Act, 1991, but a common occurrence during elections for candidates and political parties to pay campaign workers and organizers for their work and to reimburse them for their expenses incurred.

As long as there was expenditure room within the established legislative limits, a party or candidate would have no reason to hide the involvement of a party worker who had received pay for their services.

Also, in light of the fact that at that time campaign filings were not due until six months past polling day, any error or understatement of campaign expenditure that had occurred could not possibly be seen to have affected the actual voting that had taken place on January 30, 2001.

The available evidence indicates no knowledge or involvement on the part of the candidate or party with respect to the actions of Ed Byrne. There is also no indication that the fraudulent actions on the part of Mr. Byrne affected the outcome of the 2001 by-election. Further, there is no evidence that anyone other than Mr. Byrne was involved in a deliberate attempt to manipulate funds or to otherwise fraudulently circumvent the provisions of elections finance requirements in the Elections Act, 1991.

On the basis of the above, I conclude that any impropriety involved in the 2001 St. Barbe by-election was related to the actions of Ed Byrne, actions for which he has been convicted, and are not attributed to other persons involved in that by-election. There is no evidence presently available to support a contention that the outcome of the by-election was affected by these actions and no formal investigation is required.

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Media contact:

Paul Reynolds
Chief Electoral Officer

2009 04 21                                                      4:55 p.m.

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