The State of Canada's Voting System

Former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj and Conservative MP Ted Opitz. (CP)

Former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj and Conservative MP Ted Opitz. (CP)

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The Supreme Court's decision to suspend its summer break to hear the case of alleged voting irregularities in Etobicoke Centre has sparked a debate about the seriousness of the flaws in Canada's voting system. The case has some asking whether Canada's electoral system is working the way it should... and whether, perversely, attempts to fix it might do more harm to democracy than good.


Today's guest host was Mike Finnerty.

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The State of Canada's Voting System - Panel

We started this segment with a clip of former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, speaking about his election battle, a battle that continues and that's gone all the way to Canada's Supreme Court.

It happens only very rarely, but the Justices interrupted their summer vacations to hear the case, which could have dramatic implications for Canadian democracy. It began a little over a year ago when Wrzesnewskyj lost the federal election in the riding of Etobicoke Centre to Conservative MP Ted Opitz by just 26 votes.

Wrzesnewskyj challenged the outcome in court. He argued 180 of the ballots should not be counted because missing or incomplete paperwork made it impossible to tell if they were cast by people who actually lived in the riding. In May, an Ontario Superior Court Justice agreed, at least in part. Justice Thomas Lederer ruled that 79 of the ballots couldn't be authenticated and declared the election null and void. Mr. Opitz appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. The justices heard three and a half hours of arguments from both sides on Tuesday, and their decision could come quickly.

The case has sparked a heated debate over whether Canada's electoral system is working the way it should... and whether, perversely, attempts to fix it might do more harm to democracy than good.

For their thoughts on those questions, we were joined by two people. Mia Rabson is the Parliamentary Bureau Chief with the Winnipeg Free Press. And Jean-Pierre Kingsley was Canada's Chief Electoral Officer from 1990 until 2007 and is now a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. They were both in our Ottawa studio.

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Pedro Sanchez.

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