We elect a Parliament, not a government; we vote for our local MP, not the Prime Minister. Political parties do not “win” elections, successful local candidates do, and the party with the most of them gets the first chance to form the government. In an election, as in Parliament, the individual matters more than the aggregate, the vote tally as much as the winner, and the result no less than the outcome. The same logic—that every vote matters—explains why we choose our leaders in elections in the first place; if efficiency were all-important, we would use opinion polls, instead.
This is a principled argument. Elections Canada offers a practical one. And perhaps, as Mr. Mayrand argues, the perfect should not become the enemy of the good; a simple bureaucratic snafu may not be enough to upend an election, unless the outcome hangs in the balance. But if the Supreme Court accepts his argument, it will be conceding not just that Canada’s electoral system is imperfect, but also that our commitment to our own democracy is more limited than we might have hoped. Canadians should expect only as much democracy as we can afford.
See previously: A day in court