Inside Politics

Supreme Court Watch: Mark your calendars, Etobicoke Centre denizens!

Hot off the Supreme Court of Canada presses comes official word that the next round in the battle over Etobicoke Centre -- or, more specifically, just who actually won the right to represent it in the House of Commons during the last federal election -- will get underway on July 10, 2012.

(Note that there will be two separate, albeit closely related motions before the court, as both candidates filed for appeal)

34845   Ted Opitz v. Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Attorney General of Canada, Marc Mayrand (The Chief Electoral Officer), Allan Sperling (Returning Officer, Etobicoke Centre), Ana Maria Rivero, Sarah Thompson and Katarina Zoricic ‑ and between ‑ Borys Wrzesnewskyj v. Ted Opitz, Attorney General of Canada, Marc Mayrand (The Chief Electoral Officer) and Allan Sperling (Returning Officer, Etobicoke Centre)

Elections ‑ Application to contest election ‑ Irregularities affecting result of election ‑ Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9, s. 524(1)(b).

Ted Opitz and Borys Wrzesnewskyj were candidates for the electoral district of Etobicoke Centre in the 41st Canadian General Election which took place on May 2, 2011. The election resulted in a narrow win for Mr. Opitz, with a plurality of only 26 votes. Mr. Wrzesnewskyj contested the election pursuant to s. 524(1)(b) of the Canada Elections Act, which allows a candidate in an electoral district to contest an election on the grounds that there were irregularities that affected the result of the election. There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of either candidate. Rather, the issues related to the conduct of the election at certain polls in the district. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice set aside a total of 79 votes on account of failure of registration and failure of vouching, and declared the election null and void.
Under the Canada Elections Act, the SCC is obliged to hear any appeal "without delay and in a summary manner,": although there is no specific timeline for the ruling itself. Still, given the importance of the issue, it seems more likely that it will be handed down with similar relative alacrity.
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