On July 10, 2012, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association will be intervening in Opitz, et al. v. Wrzesnewskyj, et al., a case being heard at the Supreme Court of Canada following a direct appeal from a decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Following the May 2, 2011 federal election, a candidate in the riding of Etobicoke Centre, Boris Wrzesnewskyj, brought an application under the Canada Elections Act contesting the election. Ted Opitz had won the seat by 26 votes. Justice Lederer of the Ontario Superior Court found 79 ballots to be invalid due to irregularities that went directly to the qualification of voters to vote in that election. Since the number of invalidated votes exceeded the margin of victory, the judge voided the result and declared the seat vacant. Mr. Opitz appealed the decision.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is intervening in order to ensure that the right to participate meaningfully in the election process is protected with regard to the interpretation of the Canada Elections Act in the context of elections contested based on “irregularities.” CCLA seeks to safeguard electoral rights that are found in section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right of all Canadians to be represented by the candidate duly elected by a majority of voters entitled to vote in a particular riding, and the entitlement of voters to certainty and confidence in the result of an election.
CCLA argues that, where there is a failure to follow the legislation, the effect of which, on a balance of probabilities, calls into question whether a candidate was elected by a majority of qualified voters in that riding, the seat must be vacated and a by-election must be held without delay. It is essential that the principles of Canada’s constitutional, parliamentary democracy are upheld.
Read CCLA’s factum here.
Watch a webcast of the Supreme Court hearing here.