MP appeals election case to top court

A Conservative MP whose election was overturned by a Toronto judge is appealing the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP whose election was overturned by a Toronto judge is appealing the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Only five other election results have been nullified by the courts since 1949; none of those rulings were appealed and byelections were quickly called to re-determine the will of the people in each riding.

But Ted Opitz said Monday he’s exercising his automatic right to appeal to the top court because he has an obligation to the 52,000 people in his Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre who “followed the rules and cast their ballots.”

“Their democratic choice has been called into question by the decision relating to 0.15 per cent of those ballots,” the MP said in a statement. “It is in the public interest that election results be respected and that voters not be disenfranchised.”

Opitz won Etobicoke Centre by just 26 votes over Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj. The loser went to court, claiming procedural irregularities.

Earlier this month, an Ontario Superior Court judge found that Elections Canada officials made clerical errors at the polls. Justice Thomas Lederer threw out 79 votes and overturned the final result.

Wrzesnewskyj called the appeal a “stall tactic” that will leave Etobicoke Centre voters in limbo.

“The legitimacy of the outcome is in question here. We don’t know what the will of the people was so something was taken away from all 50,000 voters who did play according to the rules,” he said.

Under the Canada Elections Act, the Supreme Court must hear an appeal of a contested election result “without delay and in a summary manner.”

Andres Garin, the court’s executive legal officer, couldn’t give firm details of how the case will be handled, noting this is the first time the top court has been involved in a contested election. But he said he imagines the court will set a date for a hearing after consulting both parties in the case.

The court is sitting in June but Garin suspected the parties might want more time to prepare, which would most likely mean no hearing until the fall. He said a hearing during the summer, when the court normally does not sit, is possible but “highly unlikely.”

Noting that the case has been before the courts for a year already, Wrzesnewskyj said he’s instructed his legal team to push for a hearing in June. He urged Opitz to do the same, although he doubted the Tory will be in any rush.

“The democratic process is in tatters and we need to restore the integrity of the system so that people have confidence in our democracy,” Wrzesnewskyj said.

“We need to fix it and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Wrzesnewskyj said Opitz should sit out votes in the House of Commons.

“It’s mind-boggling to think someone that’s been found to not legitimately represent the will of the people in an election, that that individual could continue taking part in votes in the House of Commons and votes in committees. That’s a terrible precedent.”

The Etobicoke Centre result was overturned on the basis of improperly filled out paperwork for voters left off the list of electors or who needed someone to vouch for their identity. In his ruling, Lederer specifically stressed the irregularities were the result of clerical errors by well-meaning Elections Canada officials, not the product of fraud or intentional wrongdoing.

However, since then, Wrzesnewskyj has resurrected other more serious allegations of ballot-box stuffing and voter suppression by Opitz’s campaign, though nothing has been proven.

Just Posted

Flooding closes portion of Red Deer’s 43 Street

A portion of 43 Street in Red Deer was closed Saturday morning… Continue reading

WATCH: On 4—20 Day in Red Deer, marijuana users say legal weed a long time coming

Not wanting to wait for the federal government to legalize recreational marijuana,… Continue reading

Former Central Alberta MLA appealing fine for not protecting a list of 20,000 electors

List included names and addresses of voters in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Proposed Alberta legislation would protect consumers

Alberta Utilities Commission would be given power to penalize natural gas and electricity providers

Red Deer beginning two major construction projects

Ross Street’s 1935-era water main to be replaced and 67th Street roundabout landscaped

WATCH: Red Deer RCMP and Emergency Services play for Humboldt

Red Deer police officers and firefighters laced up their skates to raise… Continue reading

After air accidents, survivors grapple with flying again

Hundreds of hands grappling with oxygen masks. Flight attendants warning passengers to… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth to attend pop concert for 92nd birthday

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth is marking her 92nd birthday with a Saturday… Continue reading

‘Such a great person:’ Funeral being held for assistant coach with Broncos

STRASBOURG, Sask. — Mark Cross was a ferocious competitor when he played… Continue reading

UPDATE: Missing Innisfail woman located

A 54-year-old Innisfail woman, who had not been seen since Wednesday, has… Continue reading

Hellebuyck makes 30 saves, Jets beat Wild in Game 5 to advance to Round 2

WINNIPEG — Bryan Little’s teammates were happy they could deliver something special… Continue reading

Red Deer College wins Community Inclusion Award

Red Deer College is an inclusive institution, and it has an award… Continue reading

Firefighters rescue cat from ice floe in river

WINNIPEG — Firefighters are known for helping cats stuck in trees, but… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month