Ontario judge throws out 2011 election results in Etobicoke riding

A judge has thrown out the results of the last federal election in the Ontario riding of Etobicoke Centre, which was won by Conservative Ted Opitz by a mere 26 votes. The results had been challenged by the ridings Liberal candidate, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who placed second in the May 2011 election.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Thomas Lederer set aside 79 ballots in his decision to declare results null and void. Lederer concluded that there were voting irregularities consisting of dozens of people who were allowed to cast ballots without the proper paperwork, or at the wrong polling stations.

“It’s a terrible thought not to know whether or not someone who is in the House of Commons, voting on laws by which we govern ourselves, whether those individuals are actually an expression of the will of the people,” Wrzesnewskyj, who wants a by-election, told CBC News. “Elections Canada has to have the resources to properly train their officials, to make sure that people who vote are — it’s as basic as making sure that they actually are Canadian citizens.”

Opitz and the Conservatives have eight days to appeal Lederer’s decision. If they do, the case will be fast tracked to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Globe and Mail reports. “We need to be confident that those who receive a ballot have been identified as persons who are on the official list of electors or who have registered,” Judge Lederer wrote in his decision. “If we give up these foundations of our electoral system, we are risking a loss of confidence in our elections and in our government.”