When politicians don't stand up for our civil rights, it's up to citizens to fight for those rights in court. Nobody else can do it for us.

Since the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms was established in the 1980s, the courts have been ruling in favour of fair and equal representation in Canadian and provincial elections. Now, it's time to challenge the fairness of the first-past-the-post voting system itself. 

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    Case Update & More Fair Voting BC Evidence

    We hope you had a wonderful summer! Fall is almost here and the Charter Challenge case work will be ramping up again soon. We're pleased to share an interim update at this time and provide more details on Fair Voting BC's evidence.  Case Update  Charter Challenge lawyer, Nicolas Rouleau, has been in touch with the government. We are expecting them to file their response evidence by the end of the month. Once confirmed, we will send an update to all supporters on next steps.  At this time, we do expect the current case timeline to shift with a case hearing date in 2023. As soon as details are confirmed, we'll be in touch.  Fair Voting BC Evidence - Some Voters Are More Equal Than Others The last two messages showed how fewer than half the voters are represented by an MP they’ve voted for and how it can take barely a quarter of the votes for a political party to win majority power. Only a Third of Seats “In Play” in Typical Election In the next section of the affidavit, we show that only about a third of all seats across the country are truly in play in any given election - “15% of all ridings were decided by a margin of less than 5% in 2019, and an additional 13% by a margin of under 10%. These ridings are the most likely to change hands and are commonly referred to as ‘swing’ seats or seats ‘in play’. Conversely, 32% of all ridings were decided by a margin of over 25% . These seats are considered to be relatively unlikely to change hands in a subsequent election and are commonly referred to as ‘safe’ seats.” Histogram of margins in the 2019 federal election. Ridings where the margins are relatively low (<10%, shown in red and orange) are considered to be ‘swing’ seats, while ridings where the margins are relatively high (>20%, shown in green) are considered to be ‘safe’ seats. Voters in Different Regions Don’t Matter Equally This is important, because “the distribution of safe and swing seats varies across the country, affecting voters in different ways in different places,” which means that the various regions of the country don’t all matter to the same extent in an election.  In general, the outcome in races in BC are most uncertain, while those in the Prairies are essentially pre-ordained, and because the outcome in each riding is “all or nothing”, this means that the overall election results are highly sensitive to small changes in local conditions.  In effect, some voters are more “equal” (or influential) than others, which violates the democratic principle that voters should matter equally, no matter where in the country they live.   This dynamic is the root of the well-known disproportional and occasionally highly counterintuitive election results produced by the FPTP voting system (e.g., in the 2019 election where Conservative Party candidates received 1.2% more of the vote than Liberal Party candidates, but were elected in 36 fewer ridings). Coming up in our next message - an overview of our “Parity in Legislative Power” project in which we “analyze, quantify, and visualize existing distortions created by the Canadian electoral system in relation to the principle of “one person, one vote”, i.e., distortions in the “relative parity of voting power” of Canadian citizens.” More to come soon!  Jesse Hitchcock, Springtide & Antony Hodgson, Fair Voting BC
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    “Majorities” Aren’t Really Majorities

    In our last post, we introduced you to the first pieces of evidence laid out in the affidavit written by Antony Hodgson (president of Fair Voting BC), in collaboration with Byron Weber Becker (University of Waterloo) and Fred Cutler (University of British Columbia), about the results of the 2019 federal election and described our key evidence that fewer than half the voters ended up voting for an elected MP (crucial for our argument that half the voters are not effectively represented). Government MPs Typically Represent Only a Quarter of Voters After that, our affidavit makes the additional point that, “regardless of whether a government is a majority or a minority, the MPs elected to the governing party are routinely elected by only a small minority of voters” - typically less than a quarter of them. “For example, in the 2019 federal election, the 157 MPs belonging to the Liberal Party were elected by only 3.7 million of the 17.9 million voters who participated in that election (20.8%). Even in the 2015 election, which returned a majority government, the 184 MPs belonging to the Liberal Party were elected by only 4.6 million of the 17.7 million voters who participated in that election (26.2%).”   This evidence will let us argue that our current voting system does not respect one of the core tenets of democracy - namely, that legislative decisions should be made by representatives elected by a majority of voters.  Thanks to Byron Weber Becker, we were able to process historical election data in Canada going back to our first election as a country in 1867.  The figure below shows that it’s been a consistent feature of Canadian elections for our entire history that MPs from the winning party are elected by only about a quarter of the voters. Percentage of effective votes (solid shades) and ‘wasted’ votes (lighter shades) cast for the party that won the greatest number of seats in each Canadian federal election. We have also been able to show that “the winning party’s vote share (as received by all its candidates) has historically been going down” - even when counting just the elections resulting in majority governments, where the winning party’s candidates received a vote share “averaging 44.7% in the first four elections [of the past 40 years] resulting in a majority (1980, 1984, 1988, and 1993) and decreasing to an average of 39.6% in the last four resulting in a majority (1997, 2000, 2011, and 2015).” Canada Has Moved Away From Principle of Majority Rule:  We concluded that, “overall, the typical result of Canadian federal elections under FPTP in recent decades is that candidates from the party that wins the most seats [only] win up to about 40% of the popular vote. Yet despite there having been only a single true majority government in the past 59 years (after the 1958 election) and despite having its MPs elected based on votes cast by little more than a quarter of the voters (typically cast in a limited portion of the country), the party winning the most seats nonetheless secures majority power in Parliament close to 70% of the time (~41 of the 59 years). This suggests that Canada has over the past few decades moved decisively away from the principle of “majority rule”.” Stay tuned for more information! 
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Current Status:

- The case was filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on October 2019.

- Served government with affidavit and evidence package in May 2021.

- Awaiting government affidavits.

How you can help

The main way you can help is to support the case financially. We need to raise another $30,000 for the next stage of the case - drafting the factum. You can support the case for as little as a dollar a month.

What to expect

- Fall 2022 - Once evidence and a response from the government is received, Charter Challenge lawyer, Nicolas Rouleau will start preparing for cross-examination and response affidavits.

- Spring 2023 - Once we have received the government’s evidence and replied to it, Charter Challenge lawyer, Nicolas Rouleau, will draft the factum

- At each step, we set a goal based on our estimate of the costs, and ask supporters to contribute to help us reach that goal, and to ensure the case can continue to move forward.