OTTAWA — The elections commissioner has cleared the Manitoba Metis Federation after it held a raffle for voters in the Sept. 20 federal election.
"The MMF did not act with a corrupt intention by creating and publicizing its draw for prizes," reads a letter from Mylène Gigou, a senior enforcement officer for the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
On Sept. 8, the federation announced it would offer a new car and PlayStation gaming consoles in a raffle for Métis citizens who post a photo of themselves at a polling station on social media.
Observers questioned whether the contest violated the part of the Canada Elections Act that forbids bribes.
The act is enforced by the commissioner, which wrote to the Métis federation on Sept. 17, saying it had received complaints but was dismissing them on two grounds.
The first was that a bribe would require "a corrupt intention," and the commissioner found that getting more Métis to vote was not a harmful motive.
The second was that the federation had remained neutral in the election, including in the contest — even if its president, David Chartrand, had endorsed a Liberal candidate.
"If future communications from the MMF were to endorse or oppose specific candidates or political parties, the MMF would run the risk of contravening the Act," reads the letter.
It noted voters cannot take a photo of a marked ballot, though the contest specifically only asked participants to post a photo of themselves outside a polling station.
The commissioner's office said Friday it "received multiple complaints" about the raffle, but wouldn't specify how many, claiming the law makes that number confidential.
Chartrand said Friday he intends to run a similar contest in future provincial and federal votes.
"Without a doubt, I see this as precedent-setting, because it's not been done anywhere else that we know about," he said.
Chartrand said the contest likely got more young voters out to the polls, and he hopes that will make them regular voters as a result.
He said politicians respond to those who vote, which tend to be higher-income Canadians. He argued Indigenous governments can help get more attention from political parties if they encourage their people to show up at the polls.
"We’re the lower working class… we don't have the same type of influence to make changes and shifts in policy, because we don't have enough people voting."
The federation would not specify how many people qualified for the raffle, but said it amounted to thousands.