The Supreme Court of Canada sat in an unprecedented summer session to examine how easy it should be for Canadians to vote. The case was before the court yesterday and deals with errors made by Elections Canada. At stake is how easy it should be for Canadians to vote.
The election in May 2011, which gave the Conservative government a sweeping majority, has come under attack by opposition parties due to robocalls, which the opposition said was an orchestrated effort by the Conservative party to mislead voters. The opposition alleges that conservatives mislead voters with robocalls by directing them to polls that didn't exists. None of the allegations have been proven and are presently under investigation by Elections Canada, a federal agency that overseas elections.
The case in front of Canada's highest court is not related to any of the allegations, but deals with "errors made by Election Canada's personnel", and loss of certificates of elegibility by voters.
Liberal Member of Parliament (MP), Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who lost the election by 26 votes in the riding of Etobicoke Centre in Ontario, challenged the results, alleging that some people may have voted that were not eligible and that rules were broken by some Elections Canada staff. Ontario's Superior Court agreed with him and overturned he election results by voiding 78 ballots.
On the other side Conservative MP, Ted Opitz argued that polling station errors should not disenfranchise people from their constitutional right to cast a ballot.
"It can't be trivial errors," Thomson said, arguing the case was a failure in record-keeping, with no evidence voter registration certificates weren't filled out, only that they are now missing.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj lawyer, Gavin Tighe argued that it.s important that Canadian know that those that vote are actually entitled to vote.
"It's the rules which give democracy integrity," Tighe said. "When we allow the system to fall apart. We lose the rights for everyone else to vote in fairness. It's the right of the citizen to review what's gone on."
The argument should sound familiar to Americans, who also have opposing views in the case of the issue of voter IDs.
The Liberal MP, Borys Wrzesnewskyj contends that:
Voters can prove their identity and therefore their qualification to vote by:
"There has to be some rule with regard to proving who you are," said Tighe , arguing the system is designed to prevent harm from occurring.
Yesterday's hearing was lively, with the Justices interjecting often. The Supreme Court is expected to render its decision shortly, which could be:
1. to uphold the ruling of the Ontario Superior Court, which would require the Conservative MP to step down immediately and a by-election within six months.
2. to clarify the issue of voter rights, by requiring Canada's parliament to amend the elections act to tighten up the voting rules.
Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, it is clear that future elections in Canada will come under much closer scrutiny and oversight.