Council of Canadians going to court to fight election law changes

Election law changes made by the government last spring are being challenged in court by two groups that say they infringe on Canadians' right to vote.

Council of Canadians, Canadian Federation of Students say Conservative changes infringe on right to vote

The changes to Canadian election law introduced by Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, and passed by Parliament earlier this year, are being challenged in Ontario Superior Court for violating citizens' fundamental right to vote. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Election law changes made by the government last June are being challenged in court by two groups that say they infringe on Canadians' right to vote.

The Council of Canadians and Canadian Federation of Students say the Conservative government's changes to the Canada Elections Act will result in tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of voters being turned away during the next election.

The changes end voters' ability to have someone vouch for their address. The new law also ends the use of voter information cards as proof of address.

The Council of Canadians previously challenged the election wins of seven Conservative MPs over what they said was a co-ordinated campaign to commit electoral fraud in the 2011 federal race.

They later dropped one riding from the challenge, then lost the bid to annul the election results.

The Federal Court found, however, that the group proved their case that electoral fraud occurred.

Elections Canada later dropped its probe of related allegations, saying there wasn't enough evidence.

Challenge alleges voter suppression

Three of the Canadians who worked with the organization to challenge the MPs are involved in the new court challenge to the updated federal election laws.

It was filed in Ontario Superior Court, according to a news release announcing the bid.

"The applicants contend that amendments to the act will suppress the vote of certain Canadians by denying them critical and timely information about the electoral process and their right to vote, and by making it far more difficult for them to obtain a ballot or register to vote on election day," the release said.

"They also contend that by stripping key powers from the chief electoral officer, including by removing their authority to appoint and report upon the activities of the commissioner of Canada Elections, [the new law] makes it far less likely that Canadians will ever learn of electoral fraud like the kind that occurred in the last federal election."

Bill C-23, which became law last June, contained a number of controversial measures that drew criticism from a range of electoral and democracy experts in Canada and around the world.


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