POLITICS

New Brunswick Tory official says dog registered to vote in Liberal leadership

10/26/2012 11:56 EDT | Updated 12/26/2012 05:12 EST
FREDERICTON - The executive director of New Brunswick's Progressive Conservative party is raising questions about the integrity of the provincial Liberal leadership race after he was able to vote using the name of his pet dog.

Jean-Paul Soucy said he registered his dog Pitou — or puppy in English — to vote online for one of the three candidates vying for the top Liberal job at Saturday's leadership convention in Moncton, N.B.

Soucy said he wanted to test the Liberal voting system but couldn't use his own name because he's a member of the Tory party. He said he provided a name, address, phone number and birthdate, but was not asked for proof of identity nor received a phone call for verification.

"At my surprise I got my voting PIN and nobody contacted my dog or me to see if we were a real person," Soucy said Friday.

"We tested the system all the way and Pitou, my dog, was able to vote."

He declined to say who he voted for.

"It is confidential and I will respect my dog's vote," he quipped.

But Soucy said the stunt raises serious questions about whether people who aren't Liberal party members can influence the vote.

"How many other registered people passed away, or fictitious names or other cats, dogs or even Christmas trees are there, because everything is going through?"

Liberal party president Britt Dysart said the party and candidates have made thousands of verification calls to check the nearly 19,000 names on the voters' list.

"From my perspective, what has happened is this particular PIN was not called, or if it was called, there was no answer," he said.

"We've retained an auditor to audit the process and the auditor has indicated that in their view, the list is extremely strong."

He said seven people on the list have died since registration day and their PINs have been removed.

He said the public should be concerned that people in the Tory office are more interested in interfering with the Liberal leadership vote than governing the province.

"To do something like that is, from my own perspective, ethically wrong, so I wouldn't do it," he said. "I'm not going to comment on what Mr. Soucy might or might not think of personal ethics."

Dysart wouldn't say if the vote by Pitou has been cancelled, but said the PIN has been identified.

Former provincial Liberal cabinet minister Mike Murphy, Moncton lawyer Brian Gallant and Nick Duivenvoorden (DY'-ven-vor-den), a former mayor of the village of Belledune, are vying for the leadership. The winner will be announced Saturday.