A group of Canadians challenging the election wins of seven Conservative MPs has scored a victory along the road to getting the main case heard in Federal Court.
The court has ruled in favour of the challengers denying a motion by the Conservative Party to force them to put down hundreds of thousands of dollars as a security deposit.
Nine people, backed by the Council of Canadians, are challenging the election wins of seven Conservative MPs. They argue fraudulent or abusive phone calls targeted those seven ridings in an attempt to discourage voters from casting ballots on May 2, 2011, and that the election results should be nullified.
The Conservative MPs argued last month in Federal Court that the applicants should put down a combined $260,409 as a security deposit in case the applicants lose the case.
The applicants have each posted $1,000 as security for costs.
The Conservatives argued the applicants wanted the most extreme remedy, a nullification of the election results, and that the MPs were forced to defend themselves at great expense.
But Prothonotary Roza Aronovitch denied the Conservatives' motion because extra security is granted only when applicants don't have enough assets to cover an order for costs, or when recovery of costs is expected to be unlikely.
A prothonotary is a full judicial officer with many of the powers and functions of Federal Court judges, including authority to handle mediation and case management.
MPs ordered to pay costs
"The court has no basis to conclude that any increase in security for costs is warranted, or just, in the circumstances," Aronovitch wrote in a decision Friday.
"None of these factors are present in this case. Indeed the respondent MPs' own evidence is to the contrary."
Aronovitch also says the MPs have to pay costs of the motion because it unnecessarily delayed proceedings.
"Having heard the submissions of the parties on costs, and finding that these motions have unnecessarily delayed and encumbered these proceedings, it is further ordered that the costs of these motions shall be paid by the respondent MPs to the applicants, in any event of the cause," she wrote.
The seven ridings where election results are being contested are:
- Don Valley East and Nipissing-Timiskaming in Ontario.
- Elmwood-Transcona and Winnipeg South Centre in Manitoba.
- Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar in Saskatchewan.
- Vancouver Island North in B.C.
The Conservatives have already been in court arguing the lawsuit is vexatious. A prothonotary decided in favour of the applicants, ruling the case should be argued in full before determining whether it had merit.