Supreme Court rules no by-election in Etobicoke Centre

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Conservative MP Ted Opitz and there will be no by-election in Etobicoke Centre.

The full ruling is here. The Canadian Press explanation is here.

Update 10:12am. A statement from Mr. Opitz.

I thank the court for its carefully reasoned decision. It is important to respect the will of the voters in Etobicoke Centre which was demonstrated by the result of the election. I agree with the court’s decision where it identified the importance of enfranchising the electors of Etobicoke Centre. As the court decision confirmed, a fair election took place, the result was clear, was then confirmed on a recount and the result has now been endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Fifty two thousand people in Etobicoke Centre followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision upheld. I look forward to continuing my work as the MP for Etobicoke Centre, as we continue to implement Prime Minister Harper’s economic action plan to create and protect jobs.

The Prime Minister’s Office is pleased.

Update 10:32m. A statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

While we are disappointed in today’s split decision to overturn the Ontario Superior Court ruling, we accept it as the judgement of the majority of the Court. No doubt there will be a need to review both the opinions of the majority and the minority, and assess what further changes are needed to our election laws.

In addition to the split ruling today, there still exists a disturbing trend of irregularities and reports of election fraud stemming from the 2011 general election. We cannot forget that Canadians across the country were deprived of their right to vote through a coordinated attack on our democracy. Though Mr. Wrzesnewskyj’s case did not deal directly with these matters, it cannot be divorced from the allegations that have called into question the strength of our democracy. There is still much work to be done and many questions to be answered in order to restore our confidence in Canada’s electoral institutions.

I would like to thank Mr. Wrzesnewskyj for his tireless efforts in pursuing this cause. His dedication to upholding the integrity of Canada’s electoral system and the faith we have in Canada’s democracy is nothing short of remarkable. Regardless of the capacity, I know Mr. Wrzesnewskyj will continue to serve his community and the people of Etobicoke Centre.




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Supreme Court rules no by-election in Etobicoke Centre

  1. Wells’ legendary first rule of Canadian politics:

    Rule 1: For any given situation, Canadian politics will tend toward the least exciting possible outcome.

    • In this case, the more likely outcome prevailed (which also happened to be the most boring). It’s very rare to throw out election results; I think it’s only been done a handful of times in the past, if I’m not mistaken.

      • I also believe that is the case, but it’s also rare for the number of irregularities to outnumber the winning margin of votes.

        • The decision boils down to this: though there were 74 irregularities in the normal sense of the word, 54 of those irregularities were not irregular enough. By means of inference, all but 20 of these “irregular” votes were allowed to stand even though they were not properly validated.

          Why? Because it’s considered too onerous to ask the people of that riding to vote again and thereby make their intention clear.

          As I already said, an abdication of responsibility by the Majority Court.

          • I refer to the likelihood of election results being overturned alone. Although I have yet to read the judgment, seeing as half of this court and the lower court reached an opposite conclusion, I’m not sure, esp. in hindsight, how much a “likely outcome”, as Mike514 puts it, existed at all..

    • The least exciting possible outcome would have been for the decision to have been unanimous to deny the by-election… and it wasn’t, it was split 4-3. It’s not MUCH more exciting, but slightly more exciting.

  2. By my quick reading of the decision it came down to redefining the meaning of “irregularity’ by 4 of the 7. A very disappointing performance and an abdication of responsibility in my opinion.

  3. Reminds me of the old movie I saw about a woman accused of poisoning her husbands, set in a Scottish court of law. There were three possible verdicts, Guilty, Not Guilty, Not proven.

  4. A horseshit ruling. The majority favoured the entitlement of every Canadian to vote and then dismissed procedural errors because elections are complicated things.

    I have twice been thwarted from voting by Elections Canada when I was out of the country; once in London, the last time in The Hague. Elections Canada doesn’t care, does the minimum necessary, and makes excuses.

    But I have been out of the country for 5 years now. I recently got ‘the letter’ informing me I am no longer entitled to vote, just like 3 million others around the world, because of a statute that has been on the books for 10 years but only recently enforced.

    I am a Canadian and only a Canadian, have family and children there, own property and pay taxes in Canada, have contributed for a long time to the Canadian Pension Plan and have paid a lot of taxes over that time.

    But I’m not allowed to vote anymore! And elections Canada has just been given license to continue running its Ship of Fools.

    With all due respect Justices Rothstein, and Moldaver, Deschamps and Abella, you have all made an error in judgement.

    • Out of curiosity, do you have the right to vote in your home (former?) province? Here in Quebec, Elections Canada and EQ can sometimes be two wildly different animals, with different procedures, etc. It would be odd if you were permitted to vote in a provincial election, but not in a federal one…

      • The home province is Alberta. Didn’t even try to vote, though I followed it with great interest.

        Just like I’m following the $430,000 ‘single cheque’ campaign donation from Daryl Katz. “Uh, how do we explain this? Hey Mr. Katz, what are the names of your wife and kids, close relatives, and a few employees who have the wherewithal to give $30,000 for a good cause?”.

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