By Gudrun Schultz

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, January 27, 2006 ( – Conservative incumbent Jeremy Harrison and NDP Candidate Anita Jackson have accused the Liberals of misconduct in the election for the northern riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchhill River. Liberal Gary Merasty won the contested riding in one of the closest results of the election.

Mr. Harrison told CanWest reporters the election was “stolen,” alleging the Liberals bullied constituents into voting Liberal.

“We got reports of things like the Liberals driving around and threatening Natives that they wouldn’t get their cheque if they didn’t vote Liberal, reports we had from individuals of plans to stuff ballot boxes,” Harrison said.

Mr. Merasty has denied the allegations. He said he hoped people would not dwell on Harrison’s accusations, in a press release Thursday.

There were also suggestions of illegal delays in release of the voting lists, and misdirection of voters who ended up at the wrong polls. There have been further allegations today of a TV-for-votes raffle held on the reserve to entice voters out, although reserve leaders say the raffle was not limited to Liberal voters.

On election night Mr. Harrison was leading until the end of the evening, when the results of a poll delayed more than three and a half hours finally came in. That poll indicated a 100 percent voter turnout, and gave the Liberals victory.

ÂA recount yesterday confirmed the Liberal win in the riding based on votes cast.

The original count gave the Liberals the riding by a tiny margin of 106 votes. After the recount, that margin narrowed even more, to just point four percent.

Mr. Harrison said his lawyers were mounting a challenge to the result. He suggested earlier he would pursue an official investigation if the recount did not resolve the dispute.

NDP Anita Jackson said she supported a recount and investigation.

“These are things we need to check on. With so much at stake, people may engage in conduct that’s not above board,” Jackson said.

A high percentage of voters in the riding are aboriginal. Gary Merasty is a well-know local chief.

The Conservative’s are not strongly supportive of the Kelowna accords from last year, which pledged $5-billion to the reserves for social structures such as housing and healthcare.



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