Compiled By Andrew Schopp
Conservative Ted Opitz will remain the MP for Etobicoke-Centre after a Supreme court of Canada challenge by former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskj.
Wrzesnewskyj challenged the results of the May 2011 federal election where Opitz won the riding by a mere 26 votes.
Wrzesnewskyj appealed the election results citing voting irregularities at polling stations where voters did not have valid documentation.
An Ontario Superior Court concluded 79 voters’ ballots were invalid.
Opitz appealed the case to the The Supreme Court of Canada which restored 59 of the 79 votes in 2011, clinching the election for the Conservative.
“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,” said Opitz in a 2011 statement.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the thrown out ballots were cast by invalid voters.
“Nothing in the act suggests that this is an appropriate way to protect the integrity of the electoral system,” said the Supreme Court ruling. “Votes were set aside in this case because of failures in the registration and identification prerequisites . . . these cannot be remedied by after-the-fact proofs of qualification.”
Toronto-Centre MP Bob Rae said in a statement, “While we are disappointed in today’s split decision to overturn the Ontario Superior Court ruling, we accept it as the judgment of the majority of the Court.”
“Liberals showed Canadians that we are ready to stand on guard for our democratic principles of order, fairness and good governance,” he said.
Wrzesnewskyj told the Ottawa Citizen that the court’s decision will lead to election reform.
“I believe we’ve all won, because this has shone a light on all the various problems that occurred during the last election campaign,” he said.
“What I do know is the next federal election in Canada will be run very differently and that means democracy wins and that means that every Canadian has won.”