Conducting Provincial Elections in Saskatchewan 1905-2013

Report submitted to Elections Saskatchewan CEO Michael Boda by Sandra Bingaman, April 2, 2013

In 1905 when the province of Saskatchewan was created out of eastern section of the former North-West Territories, its citizens were jubilant because they had achieved the right to govern themselves in a democracy.  They could vote in elections to choose the individuals who would make the laws under which they would live.  However, to achieve this goal, machinery had to be established to conduct these elections fairly.  Although much has been written about the activities of the politicians who sought and gained public office, there is much less information about the civil servants who ran these elections.  The purpose of this paper is to describe the work of these individuals and the evolution of the laws under which they operated.

The first election in Saskatchewan was held on December 13, 1905.  Because this was just three months after the creation of the province, there had been no time to establish a provincial procedure for voting so it was held under the regulations established for elections under Ordinances of the North-West Territories.  This act provided that “it was the Clerk of the Executive Council who was responsible for ensuring the proclamation was published in the . . . Gazette and other newspapers, providing official notice to each registrar of his or her appointment, ensuring officers received a revised list of voters for his or her electoral division and other administrative tasks related to the election.”[1]  Saskatchewan Archivist D. H. Bocking wrote a description of the administrative details of the voting.

Under the Saskatchewan Act twenty-five constituencies had been established for the first election.  Until otherwise provided by a Saskatchewan government, elections were to be held under provisions of the Territorial election laws.  These laws provided that all male British subjects over the age of twenty-one years who had resided in the Territories for a year were eligible to cast a vote in the constituency in which they had resided for at least three months prior to the election.  There was no enumeration of voters but a system was established for the taking of oaths and for challenging a voter’s right.  A plain ballot was provided and the voter was required to mark an “X” on this ballot with a coloured pencil according to the colour assigned the candidate for whom he wished to vote.[2]

The use of ballots without names had originated been established by a 1894 Territorial ordinance for two reasons.  “It was claimed that the virtue of this novel system was that it enabled illiterate persons to vote and reduced the number of spoiled ballots, although economy may also have been a factor since the expense of printed ballots was avoided.[3]  The candidates were assigned colours based on the order of their nomination, with blue going to the first candidate nominated and red to the second.  For the 1905 vote, Saskatchewan Liberal Premier Walter Scott and the opposition party headed by Frederick Haultain agreed “that Provincial Rights candidates would be nominated first and have the blue pencil while the Liberal candidates would be nominated second and have the red pencil.”[4]  Scott explained his reason for this measure to one of his candidates:

Red, you know, is the Liberal color and it was for this reason that I expressed a preference for Red.  It would be confusing for our candidates to have different colors in adjoining districts.[5]

Politically scientist Evelyn Eager humourously noted that “in 1905 the resulting campaign slogan to ‘Vote Red’ held no sinister political implications.”[6]

Just in time for the next election in 1908, the Scott Government passed an Elections Act which gave responsibility for conducting elections to the provincial Clerk of the Executive Council, including supervising the preparation of voters’ lists before each election, arranging for the printing of ballots which would include the names of the candidates in each constituency, dealing with the returning officers in each constituency, and receiving the ballots in the ballot boxes after voting was completed.  The number of constituencies was increased to 41 to acknowledge the rapid growth of the population of the province.  The boundaries of the new constituencies were proposed by the government and passed by the legislature, which opened up the possibility of gerrymandering although Scott stated that he felt the redistribution was “about as fair as it could be” and it was not challenged by the opposition.[7]

The conduct of elections continued under these rules and the supervision of the Clerk of the Executive Council until 1959.  This period included eleven general elections and involved five different Clerks:  John R. Reid from 1905 until 1910, John W. McLeod from 1910 until 1930 and again from 1934 until 1944, George M. Carmichael from 1930 until 1934, John M. Telford from 1944 until 1956, and Horace S. Lee from 1956 until the first Chief Electoral Officer was appointed in 1959.  Three of the changes in Clerks occurred when there was a change in government, such as in 1929, 1934, and 1944.  The only significant change in procedure was in the number of constituencies, which went from 54 in 1912 to 50 in 1917, to 63 for the next three elections and then shrinking slightly to 55 in 1934, because of the population decline caused by the Great Depression, but then again slowly rising to 52 for the elections of 1938, 1944, and 1952, and 53 in the following two elections.  The changes in the constituencies continued to be debated and passed in the legislature.  This procedure was followed by the governments headed by Liberals up until 1929, a coalition of Conservatives and Progressives known as the cooperative government from 1929-34, the Liberals again until 1944, and then the CCF.

During general elections until 1952, voting was held on the day designated in the election writ, with the exceptions of the northern constituencies, where people voted a few weeks later “in order to allow for transportation difficulties.”[8]  When the results in other parts of the province were decisive, “northern balloting was usually reduced to an unexciting postscript.”[9]  However, when the results were close, the north became a hotbed of political activity, such as in 1929 when no one party held a majority on election night, halting only briefly during the annual stampede at Meadow Lake.  There was also considerable activity in 1948 “after the CCF strength showed a sharp drop on the regular polling day, after harsh criticism of government policy in northern areas.”[10]  After 1952, people in the northern constituencies voted on the same day as the rest of the province.

In 1959, for reasons unstated, the Douglas government appointed Roy Borrowman as the province’s first Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), a position mentioned in the 1955 Election Act as amended in 1959.[11]  From that time on, someone other than the Clerk of the Executive Council was responsible for conducting elections in Saskatchewan.  When Borrowman left the position after four years, he was succeeded by David Vansickle who then ran the 1964 general election as the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer.

The 1964 election was won by the Liberals under Ross Thatcher who took over after 20 years of CCF government.  This led to many changes in the ranks of the civil service.  One of these occurred for Vansickle who was told by a governmental official in the summer of 1965 that he was dismissed because “you are not a Liberal.”[12]  The Liberals then appointed John C. (Jack) Harrington as Chief Electoral Officer in addition to his job as Liberal “party organizer and political tactician he had been since joining Thatcher’s staff in 1961.”[13]  One of Harrington’s first tasks was to redraw constituency borders in such a way as to give the Liberals more seats, particularly in Regina and Saskatoon.[14]  The Liberals won the 1967 election based on these new constituencies, but for a variety of reasons felt their support slipping, particularly after a by-election loss in Kelvington in June 1969.  This prompted Premier Thatcher to act:

Immediately after the defeat, he ordered Chief Electoral Officer Jack Harrington to make a major redistribution of the electoral boundaries to maximize the Liberals’ strength in as many of the province’s 59 seats as possible.  But what was supposed to shore up Liberal support before the next provincial election became another blow to Thatcher and the government’s credibility.

The redistribution was introduced into the legislature by [Minister of Finance Davey] Steuart 10 months after the Kelvington by-election.  Theoretically, it had been produced by a committee of government MLAs made up of Welfare Minister Cy MacDonald, Public Works Minister Allan Guy, and backbenchers Don McPherson and Robert Heggie.  In reality, it was exclusively Harrington’s work, his redrafting of the boundaries having been cleared each step of the way by Thatcher.  The legislation changed 34 of the existing 59 constituencies and increased the total number of seats to 60, giving both Regina and Saskatoon one new seat each.[15]

This bill provoked a vigorous attack by the NDP opposition and is cited as one reason why the Liberals were defeated at the next general election in 1971.  Political scientist Evelyn Eager describes the measure as one “which outdid all previous examples of gerrymander in the province.”[16]

In 1972, legislation was passed giving the responsibility for drawing electoral maps to an independent electoral boundaries commission designed to remove partisan politics from process.  According to this act, this commission would be established no more than 30 days after the province received the results of the federal census, conducted every ten years.  One commission member would be a judge chosen by the Chief Justice of the Province, one would be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly after consultation with the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition, and the third was the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly serving ex officio.[17]  This commission would then hold hearings and would draw up a map in which no constituency except the two northern ones would vary in population more than 15% from the number derived by dividing the population of the province by the number of constituencies.  The 1975 election was the first one to be contested in constituencies established by this process.  In 1988, an amendment removed the Clerk as a member of this commission and replaced him with the Chief Electoral Officer, which at least two political scientists did not feel was an improvement to impartiality:

The Chief Electoral Officer, while certainly knowledgeable about the election process, is a servant of the executive rather than the legislature.  In Saskatchewan the position has always been a partisan appointment.[18]

This was later changed so that the commission consisted of a judge, one member appointed by the Government, and one appointed by the Opposition with the Chief Electoral Officer attending their meetings as a resource person along with any staff members required for their expertise.[19]

After the Liberal defeat in 1971, Harrington was replaced as Chief Electoral Officer and several individuals served short terms.  In the early 1970s Grant N. Chamberlin and Donald McMillan were named as assistants only although the latter was then promoted to CEO and served from 1974 until 1977.  He was then followed by Carole Bryant, the first woman appointed CEO, who held the position from 1977 until 1979, after which Dickson Bailey served for two years.  Keith Lampard was the next person to hold this office starting as assistant in 1982 and serving for ten years until 1992.  Then Myron Kuziak became CEO until 1997.

These individuals performed the same functions as their predecessors although the 1971 Election Act reduced the time they had to prepare for elections by limiting the length of campaigns to a minimum of 28 and a maximum of 34 days.  In 1974, they received the added duties of enforcing the limits of election expenses;  legislation provided that an individual candidate could spend no more than $15,000 or $1 per name on the voters’ list, with higher limits of $20,000 or $2 per voter in the northern constituencies.  Also, each party had its expenses limited to $175,000 for the 1975 election and $250,000 for the vote held in 1978.  Candidates and parties had to file reports detailing their expenses.[20]  These rules and amounts worked well for the 1975 general election but caused problems in a 1977 by-election in Pelly where “the Liberals spent more than three times the $10,000 legal limit for a by-election; the Progressive Conservatives were a day late in filing, and questions were also raised as to whether all expenditures had been included; and the NDP filed a second return, making changes from the original one.”[21]  No actions were taken on these reported irregularities, but the Chief Electoral Officer submitted a report asking for clarification of ambiguities.

In the mid-1990s, CEO Kuziak began a process of major revision of the Election Act designed to update it and make it easier to use.  This process involved consultation with election officials in Ottawa, Manitoba, and British Columbia as well as with Jan Baker, a long-term employee and sometimes acting head of Saskatchewan’s election agency.  In 1995, Kuziak’s draft was then sent to the Department of Justice for reworking.  That version was then sent to the NDP caucus and cabinet and also to the Opposition party MLAs.  Both of these consultations led to minor changes but left “the vast bulk of proposed amendments.  It also produced the major benefit of minimizing serious partisan debate and opposition to the amendments and accelerated the passage of the bill through the legislature.”[22]  When the bill was brought up in the legislature for debate and approval, Cabinet minister Robert Mitchell noted that both “the level of consultation and cooperative spirit” which produced it was “unprecedented” and noted,

The current bill represents the product of over a year’s work by various officials and by various members of this Assembly to bring our election law up to date and to ensure that our citizens’ basic democratic right to vote for their representatives is made as assessable and meaningful and true and honest as it is possible to do.[23]

Mitchell highlighted three themes of the bill:  that it gave access to voting to everyone regardless of circumstances, that it made all parties involved in voting from the officials to the candidates and parties accountable, and that it clarified and removed ambiguity from the rules regarding allowable election expenses.[24]  In a report written after the passage of the act, Kuziak summed up other benefits of the new legislation:

Not only will the new Act benefit the administration of elections, the parties and the candidates, it will be seen by the electorate as being more user friendly,” as providing more effective voting rights and will remove some irritants, such as the street-corner posting of voters’ lists, which has been eliminated.

I believe that the new Act is a significant improvement in most areas over the previous one.  In addition to the new provisions already mentioned, it provides for absentee voting by mail-in ballot, for sharing voter information between jurisdictions, for more convenient advance poll voting on Sundays, for party registration rules and criteria that will ensure that only legitimate political parties may be registered, for contribution tax credit rules, as well as many changes of lesser, but not insignificant importance.[25]

In 1998, the 1996 Election Act was amended to make a major change in the situation of the Chief Electoral Officer.  Instead of being part of Executive Council, the CEO became an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly, appointed by resolution and accountable to the Assembly through the Speaker.  This had the effect of making the office less politically partisan.  The Act also established the Chief Electoral Office which became known as Elections Saskatchewan.[26]

One result of the change in status of the Chief Electoral Officer was the publication of reports which contained more than simply election results.  From 1905 on, the person in charge of elections had tabulated results from each constituency for each general and by-election held in Saskatchewan, but until the 1970s these reports did not even contain the name of the person who prepared them.  However in 2004, CEO Janice Baker prepared a Compendium Annual Report for 1998-2002 which provided significant information about the functioning of her office.  This included an organizational chart of the Office showing seven permanent staff positions and 58 constituency returning officers as well as outlining the additional positions required during elections.[27]  The report also listed six functions of the Office:

  • “to maintain a state of provincial election readiness”
  • “to assist registered political parties, candidates, chief official agents, and business managers to ensure compliance with the Act’s financial transparency and disclosure requirements”
  • “The Office is responsible for assessing and reimbursing, where applicable, election expenses paid from the Province’s Consolidated Revenue Fund”
  • “The Office is responsible for investigating suspected or alleged contraventions of the Act, as the Chief Electoral Officer considers it necessary”
  • “The Chief Electoral Officer reports annually to the Board of Internal Economy on budgetary matters and to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on Matters related to the Act. . . and in addition prepares and tables reports in the Legislative Assembly on all electoral specific activities”
  • ”Lastly the Office maintains a public relations program to raise political stakeholder and public awareness on important aspects of the Office’s mandate.”[28]

This report and others which followed it provide a much clearer view of the activities of Chief Electoral Officers and their staff than was available for earlier periods.

Three men have run Elections Saskatchewan since Janice Baker left the job in 2004.  Jean Ouellet served for nearly four years until October 22, 2008, when he was suspended and then quickly resigned over what was called “personnel issues.”[29]  Assistant CEO David Wilkie was named acting head and was chosen to be the next permanent head by a search committee of two Saskatchewan Part MLAs, Speaker Don Toth and Justice Minister Don Morgan, and NDP MLA Kevin Yates, but the Saskatchewan Party caucus objected to Wilkie “for unknown reasons.”[30]  Without agreement, Wilkie was left in the acting position for three years until Michael Boda was appointed as CEO on June 1, 2012.  Wilkie repeated stated that Elections Saskatchewan was in dire need of more staff to conduct the 2011 election and make needed changes to the Election Act, particularly to make provisions for disabled voters, but his complaints were ignored.[31]  In 2008, the government commissioned a report on the “operational environment of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and identification of key competencies for the position of Chief Electoral Officer . . . to serve as a basis for a recruitment strategy for the next Chief Electoral Officer.”[32]  This report, prepared by David Hamilton, a retired Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and Chief Electoral Officer who had worked for various organizations as a consultant on election procedures, was submitted in 2009 under the title of The Recount.

Although elections in Saskatchewan have occurred without major problems from 1905 until the present, there have been some difficulties noted by various authors.  One recurring problem, with different manifestations has been preparing voters’ lists.  For the 1905 election, there was no precedent for preparing voters’ lists, so the Territorial model of allowing anyone who appeared at a poll claiming qualifications to vote did do.  Each candidate had a scrutineer present who could challenge the voter, at which time his ballot would be sealed in an envelope with his name (women could not vote until 1916) which would not be opened until a court of revision decided on his eligibility.  In the hotly contested 1905 contest, zealous scrutineers challenged as many as 25% of the voters at some of the polls, so it took some time for results to be known.[33]  The 1908 Election Act provided for closed lists, compiled by registrars in rural areas and voters registering themselves at pre-election registration meetings in the towns and cities, but the election was called so soon after the passing of this act that voters could still be registered at the polls on election day.  In 1912, the closed lists were prepared according to the rules, but many voters were confused by the new system and thus were disenfranchised.  Conservatives  accused the Scott government of removing the names of eligible voters and replacing them with ineligible new immigrants, which the government denied but evidence suggests might have been valid.[34]  Officials then tried annual revisions of permanent lists, but these did not work well either so by 1920 the rules were changed so that new lists were drawn up for each election after the writ was dropped but voters not on them could register at the time of the election.[35]  This always meant a rush to do the enumeration, something which was still being complained about as the 20th century ended.  Some provisions in the 1996 Election Act allowed enumeration to be started early and collaboration with election officials in other jurisdictions, particularly federal authorities, changes which were supported by Opposition MLAs as well as government supporters.[36]

The 1905 election had one instance of election fraud in three northern polls.  An investigation showed that the three deputy returning officers of these polls had “simply retired to the bush for an appropriate length of time and then had returned with an appropriate number of ballots to tip the election in favor of the government candidate.  Unfortunately for their scheme, the hundred and fifty-one Liberal votes presented exceeded the number of voters in the three polls.”[37]  The matter was sent to the Saskatchewan Supreme Court by the defeated candidate but was not decided there because a judge in a different case decided the court had no jurisdiction “since the Saskatchewan Act had not provided for continuation of the relevant Territorial legislation.”[38]  The defeated northern candidate was then accepted as an MLA when he appealed his loss to the legislature.  The three deputy returning officers were charged and found guilty.[39]

In the 1925 general election, the defeated Progressive candidate had questioned the results and had inspected poll books looking for irregularities.  He did not pursue the matter, but Progressive MLAs raised the issue in the legislature and demanded the matter be referred to the Select Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.  The Liberal government majority voted down this measure saying that there were no specific charges and that it was so long since the election that the ballots and poll books had been destroyed “in accordance with the Election Act, making it virtually impossible to determine if in fact any irregularities had taken  place.”[40]

In 1931, the results of a by-election in Estevan were challenged by the losing candidate in a close vote.  A judicial recount overturned the result but then an investigation discovered that ballots had been tampered with between the original count and the recount.  As in the 1905 situation, the legislature decided the matter, giving the seat to the winner declared on election night, but he held the seat for only two years because a series of court cases proved that unqualified people had voted in the by-election.[41]

A series of problems plagued the constituency of Athabaska in the early 1970s.  The results of the 1971 general election were overturned because twenty-five ineligible voters had cast ballots.  Thus, a by-election was called for September 27, 1972.  “Preparations for the by-election were beset successively by a mistake in the voters’ list which appeared to permit 350 people to vote four times; by the need to reprint the ballots because of incorrect listing of the names; [and] by a controversy as to whether citizens of the Irish Republic living in the constituency were eligible to vote.”[42]  Then a week before the voting there were even more problems when a DC-C aircraft carrying various election officials and ballots crashed four miles from the runway at La Ronge airport.  There were no fatalities but the pilot, co-pilot and stewardess were admitted to hospital for treatment.  Passengers who had to be rescued from the bush in which the plane ended up included Dave Sheard, executive director of the Saskatchewan Liberals, Barbara McNevin, regional director of the Liberal party, and Don McMillan, acting Chief Electoral Officer.  Talking to a reporter, McMillan described the low visibility, rain and wind which apparently caused the right wing to dip “sharply and cut into the trees, sending the aircraft diving to the ground.  The impact tore the plane into two pieces.”[43]  He then continued,

The plane didn’t skid into the bushes, it immediately dropped after the wing started to hit the trees.  Immediately after it stopped, I turned around toward the back of the plane to see what sort of damage was there . . . and there was absolute, complete daylight.  All I could see was snow falling and evergreen trees.[44]

Another aircraft dropped axes so that a clearing could be cut for a helicopter to land to rescue the passengers and crew.  McMillan was checked for injuries at the hospital but was then able to return to the fallen plane to recover the ballots and take them to the advance poll in La Ronge almost on time.  However, another poll in Uranium city had to just record the names of voters who appeared because they had no ballots, and a third poll at Black Lake was cancelled.[45]

There were also problems in northern Saskatchewan during the general election in the summer of 1995, as CEO Myron Kuziak reported:

During the time of advance poll voting and right up to election day, a widespread and serious forest fire problem in northern Saskatchewan led to evacuations of entire communities from one constituency to another and to the maintenance of relatively large, mobile contingents of firefighters at various sites in the forest areas of our 2 northern constituencies.  Firefighters were recruited from different constituencies, were kept on the move and at locations which did not facilitate leaving to vote.  These circumstances effectively deprived many hundred of people of an opportunity.  We discovered that our Act did not allow either the Chief Electoral Officer or the provincial cabinet any powers to devise alternate means of accommodating the voting rights of people caught by the fire situation.[46]

The fires also caused the evacuation of Sandy Bay whose citizens were moved to safety in Saskatoon, but who were also therefore unable to vote.[47]  This situation led to provisions in the 1996 Election Act giving the Chief Electoral Officer powers to deal with emergencies like this to make sure that affected individuals could vote in the future.

In conclusion, this paper has identified the individuals who were in charge of conducting elections in Saskatchewan in the positions of Clerk of Executive Council, Chief Electoral Officer, and Assistant or Acting Chief Electoral Officer.  These civil servants often faced difficulties caused by geography and climate, rapid changes in the number and locations of voters, and the partisan nature of politics in the province, which are also discussed in this paper.  A third topic of discussion is changes to the Acts which governed voting in Saskatchewan which often resulted from problems experienced in elections.  These changes have led to the creation of the position of Chief Electoral Officer which Janice Baker, who worked conducting elections in Saskatchewan for several decades, described in 2002 in this way:

At the end of the day, the role of the Chief Electoral Officer in administering the electoral process in Saskatchewan is analogous to that of a referee.  Much like in a hockey game, an effective referee is seldom seen or heard.  In the electoral context, the Chief Electoral Officer must facilitate fairness among and between registered political parties and candidates while ensuring that the Saskatchewan electorate have the opportunity to express their democratic right.[48]


[1] A Century of Democracy:  Elections of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta 1905-2005:  The Legislative Assembly Office and the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, 2006, p. 5  [This comment was made in reference to the first Alberta election, but the one in Saskatchewan was conducted under the same ordinance.]

[2] D. H. Bocking, “Saskatchewan’s First Provincial Elections,” Saskatchewan History XVII (1964), p. 44

[3] L. H. Thomas, The Struggle for Responsible Government in the North-West Territories 1870-1897 (2nd edition), University of Toronto Press, 1978, p. 243

[4] Bocking, p 44

[5] Scott papers, Scott to MacNutt, Nov. 15, 1905, pp. 37921-22, cited in Evelyn Eager, Saskatchewan Government: Politics and Pragmatism, Western Producer, 1988, p. 95

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid, p. 88

[8] Ibid, p 95

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Saskatchewan Order in Council OC 636/59

[12] Saskatoon StarPhoenix, 13 July 1965.

[13] Dale Eisler, Rumours of Glory: Saskatchewan and the Thatcher Years, Hurtig, 1987, 201

[14] Ibid

[15] Eisler, pp 240-1

[16] Eager, p 86

[17] Ibid p 87

[18] Merrilee Rasmussen and Howard Leeson, “Parliamentary Democracy in Saskatchewan 1982-89” in Leslie Biggs & Mark Stobbe (ed) Devine Rule in Saskatchewan, Fifth House, 1991, p 63

[19] S. Bingaman interview with David Wilkie of Elections Saskatchewan 25 March 2013

[20] Eager p 93

[21] Ibid

[22] Martin Kuziak, “The New Saskatchewan Election Act,” 07/17/96

[23] Hansard, Saskatchewan, May 15, 1996, p 1637

[24] Ibid  p 1638

[25] Kuziak, p 4

[26] Saskatchewan, 1996 Election Act c. E-6.01, p 11

[27] Annual Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan Compendium 1998-2004, p 4

[28] Ibid p 6

[29] CBC news report “Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer quits following suspension,” October 27, 2008

[30] James Wood, “Elections Saskatchewan remains in limbo,” Saskatoon StarPhoenix 13 July 2010 reported on network

[31] Ibid and Election Saskatchewan Annual Report 2009-10 p 1


[33] Eager p 50

[34] J. William Brennan, A Political History of Saskatchewan, 1905-1929, Unpublished PhD thesis submitted to the University of Alberta, 1976, p 79

[35] Ibid

[36] Saskatchewan Hansard May 15, 1996 p 1369 and May 24, 1996 p 1832

[37] Eager p 96

[38] Ibid

[39] Brennan p 79

[40] Ibid, 750

[41] Ibid

[42] Eager p 96

[43] “No fatalities in DC-3 crash,” Saskatoon Star Phoenix 21 September 1972

[44] Ibid

[45] Ibid

[46] Kuziak pp2-3

[47] Saskatchewan Hansard May 15 1996 p 1639

[48] Elections Saskatchewan Annual Report 1998-2002 pp 1-2

Bibliography for Conducting Provincial Elections in Saskatchewan 1905-2013

Bibliographical Note

Although there are now a substantial number of books and theses about Saskatchewan history and politics, very few of them deal with the mechanics of conducting elections in the province.  The only work I found which addressed this directly was Saskatchewan Government: Politics and Pragmatism by political scientist Evelyn Eager which contains a chapter entitled “Voters and Elections.”  This chapter looks at topics such as voters’ lists, determining constituency boundaries, types of ballots, choosing election dates, and disputes and difficulties from 1905 until the late 1970s, and documents the information with endnotes.  Another useful book is Dale Eisler’s Rumours of Glory:  Saskatchewan & the Thatcher Years which contains good detail about the partisan activities of Jack Harrington when he was serving as both Chief Electoral Officer and Liberal party organizer.  One drawback of this book is the absence of footnotes although in his Preface the author notes that he had conducted 134 interviews and had read newspapers extensively; he does not mention that he was also the LeaderPost political columnist for years.  Other works consulted sometimes mention details of voting or problems in particular elections.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan published a report after every general election and most by-elections held in Saskatchewan since 1905, but most of these contained no information about the conduct of the elections, including only the names of returning officers, the candidates, and the results of the votes in each constituency.  Until the 1970s, they did not even include the name of the individual in charge of the election.  Much more useful were the reports published since 2002 which contain organizational charts of Elections Saskatchewan and a discussion of activities and problems of the organization.  The various Election Acts starting with the one passed in 1908 are useful in providing the rules under which Saskatchewan elections were run.

One possible source of information for a future researcher is the files of the Executive Council concerning elections held by the Saskatchewan Archives.  I did not look at these for two reasons:  they are located in Saskatoon and they are huge, consisting of 54 boxes each of which will probably contain hundreds of pages.


Books and Articles

Archer, John H.  Saskatchewan: A History.  Saskatoon: Western Producer, 1980.

Barnhart, Gordon L.  “Peace, Progress and Prosperity”.  Regina: CPRC Press, 2000.

——–(ed).  Saskatchewan’s Premiers of the Twentieth Century.  Regina: CPRC Press, 2004.

Blakeney, Allan.  An Honourable Calling:  Political Memoirs.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, no date [2008?].

Bocking, D. H.  “Saskatchewan’s First Provincial Election,” Saskatchewan History XVII (1964), pp 41-54.

Brennan, J. William.  A Political History of Saskatchewan, 1905-1929.  PhD thesis, University of Alberta, 1976.

Briens, Allan M.  The 1960 Saskatchewan Provincial Election.  M.A. Thesis University of Regina, 2004.

A Century of Democracy:  Elections of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta 1905-2005.  The Legislative Assembly Office and The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, 2006.

Eager, Evelyn.  Saskatchewan Government:  Politics and Pragmatism.  Saskatoon: Western Producer, 1980.

Eisler, Dale.  Rumours of Glory.  Saskatchewan & the Thatcher Years.  Edmonton: Hurtig, 1987.

Gruending, Dennis.  Promises to Keep:  A Political Biography of Allan Blakeney.  Saskatoon: Western Producer, 1990.

Hoffman, George G.  The Saskatchewan Provincial Election of 1934:  Its Political, Economic and Social Background.  M.A. thesis, University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, 1973.

Lloyd, Dianne.  Woodrow:  A Biography of W. S. Lloyd.  Woodrow Lloyd Memorial Fund, 1979

Margoshes, Dave.  Tommy Douglas:  Building the New Society.  Montreal: XYZ Publishing, 1999.

McLeod, Thomas H. and Ian McLeod.  Tommy Douglas:  The Road to Jerusalem.  Edmonton: Fifth House, 2004.

Rasmussen, Merrilee and Howard Leason, “Parliamentary Democracy in Saskatchewan 1982-1989” in Leslie Biggs and Mark Stobbe, (ed) Devine Rule in Saskatchewan.  Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1991.

Smith, David E.  Prairie Liberalism:  The Liberal Party in Saskatchewan 1905-1971.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975.

Spenser, Dick.  Singing the Blues:  The Conservatives in Saskatchewan.  Regina: CPRC Press, 2007

Stewart, Walter.  The Life and Political Times of Tommy Douglas.  Toronto: McArther, 2003.

Thomas, L. H. (ed).  The Making of a Socialist:  The Recollections of T. C. Douglas.  Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1982

——–The Struggle for Responsible Government in the North-West Territories 1870-97 (2nd Edition).  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978.

Tyre, Robert.  Douglas in Saskatchewan:  The Story of a Socialist Experiment.  Vancouver: Mitchell, 1962.

Waiser, Bill.  Saskatchewan:  A New History.  Calgary: Fifth House, 2005.

Ward, Norman and Duff Spafford (ed).  Politics in Saskatchewan.  Don Mills: Longmans, 1968.

Government Documents

Saskatchewan Archives Board.  Saskatchewan Executive and Legislative Directory.

Chief Electoral Officer (Saskatchewan).  Reports 1905-2012.

Hansard (Saskatchewan), selected debates May 1996.

Legislative Library (Saskatchewan).  “List of Chief Electoral Officers from 1905 to 1975.

Orders in Council (Saskatchewan), selected documents 1959-1997.

Saskatchewan.  Election Act, various years.