Elections Act changes challenged by Council of Canadians, students group

Two national organizations are asking an Ontario court to overturn changes made to Canadian election law last year, and say they want the case to be heard before Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 19.

Groups say challenge to voter ID and vouching changes needs to be heard before 2015 election

Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre's changes to Canadian election laws are being challenged in court by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Two national organizations are asking an Ontario court to overturn changes made to Canadian election law last year, and say they want the case to be heard before Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 19.

The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students say changes enacted by the Conservative government's Fair Elections Act will make it harder for tens of thousands of people to vote.

The groups add that new voter identification rules contravene Section 3 of the charter, which states everyone has the right to vote, as well as the equality provisions in the Constitution.

Steven Shrybman, the lawyer representing the two organizations, said Monday the groups are asking the Ontario Superior Court to speed up the process so it can hear the case before this year's election, which must be held by mid-October but could come sooner.

Shrybman said he's prepared to ask for an injunction to prevent the new rules from being implemented for the 2015 election if the court can't hear the case before the campaign begins.

The Council of Canadians has challenged the Conservatives in the past, notably assisting a group of voters in bringing a Federal Court case in 2012 that tried to annul the election of six Conservative MPs. The organization lost the challenge and in 2013 declined to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Bill C-23, which the government named the Fair Elections Act, changed the polling station identification requirements and removed an option that let a voter vouch for another who didn't have photo ID that also listed his or her address.

Corrections

  • This article has been edited to correct an earlier version that said the challenge was going to the Federal Court. In fact, it is being made at the Ontario Superior Court.
    Feb 23, 2015 11:36 AM ET

with files from The Canadian Press

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