Redo in Etobicoke Centre? - Macleans.ca

Redo in Etobicoke Centre?

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An Ontario court has ruled last year’s federal election result in Etobicoke Centre to be null and void.

The result, which saw Conservative Ted Opitz defeat Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj by 26 votes, had been contested on the grounds of irregularities—see CBC coverage here, here and here.

Unless today’s ruling is appealed—it would go directly to the Supreme Court—and subsequently overturned, a by-election will be held.

Update 2:07pm. A statement from Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey.

We are disappointed with the decision of the Court today. The judge has found problems with the way that Elections Canada ran the election in this riding. As the judge took care to point out in the decision, Ted Opitz and the Conservative campaign team followed the rules. Fifty two thousand people in Etobicoke Centre followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision thrown into doubt. Ted Opitz will continue working hard on behalf of his constituents.

Update 2:41pm. Mr. DeLorey, on the question of a possible appeal: “We are reviewing the decision.”

Update 2:57pm. Only five times since 1949 has a vote been declared null and void: the last time being in York North in 1988. The House of Commons guide lays out the procedural steps as follows:

The court sends a copy of the decision to the Speaker; the Speaker will also be informed if an appeal has been filed. If no appeal has been filed, the decision is tabled in the House. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada must be filed within eight days of the decision being rendered and is heard without delay. The Supreme Court’s decision is transmitted to the Speaker who tables it in the House. If the election is declared null and void, the Speaker addresses a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for a new election.

Update 3:14pm. A statement from Mr. Opitz.

I am disappointed with the decision of the Court today. The judge has found problems with the way that Elections Canada ran the election in this riding. As the judge took care to point out in the decision, I and my campaign team followed the rules. This is not about me. It is about fifty two thousand people who followed the rules, cast their ballots and today had their democratic decision thrown into doubt. I am proud that the people of Etobicoke Centre elected me to represent them as their Member of Parliament. I will continue working hard on their behalf.”

Update 3:27pm. A statement from interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

“I was pleased with the Ontario Superior Court’s decision to declare the 2011 election results in Etobicoke Centre null and void. Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj lost his seat by 26 votes and had outlined numerous irregularities that were, in the end, found by Justice Lederer to have undermined the results. It has become clear to many Canadians that our democracy was tested and perhaps undermined during the last election. Reports and allegations of election fraud are widespread and there are many cases still under investigation. This has cast serious doubts on the integrity of our electoral system, but we are confident that a by-election in Etobicoke Centre would help greatly in reaffirming the strength of our electoral system and Canada’s democracy.”

Update 4:40pm. CBC has the text of today’s court decision here.