Simard claims victory in Sask. francophone election; challenge likely

Denis Simard speaks at the offices of the Société Canadienne-Française de Prince Albert during the election campaign. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

After days of confusion, Saskatchewan’s francophone organization has chosen its next leader. But the results are likely to face a challenge from his opponent.

Denis Simard won the presidency of the Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise by 52 votes after last week’s election. The organization’s chief electoral officer, Françine Proulx-Kenzie revealed the news to the Daily Herald on Thursday.

Preliminary results gave Simard’s opponent, Roger Gauthier, a slim nine vote lead. But there were still about 100 mail-in ballots to count, and Proulx-Kenzie noted “irregularities” in the way they came in.

“There were just a large number of anticipatory votes made in Saskatoon, which surprised a lot of people,” Simard explained.

Proulx-Kenzie tried to send the matter to an independent commission. But they declined to hear the matter until they received a formal complaint. They directed her to have election workers count the ballots. They did, and soon declared Simard the winner.

“The election has been called,” Simard said. “Now, and until proven otherwise, I am the president.”

Both Simard and Proulx-Kenzie said they expect Gauthier to appeal the result to the commission. Gauthier was not immediately available for comment.

Simard said he is “thankful and touched” for the community support. He said his first order of business is to sit down with area leaders and develop a plan to move the organization forward.

For more on this story, see the Friday, November 10 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.