In the wake of BC's referendum results, here is our next chance to bring pro rep to Canada

The results of the BC referendum on electoral reform are in, and BC voters have chosen to keep first-past-the-post. For anyone who has been working for electoral reform across Canada, these results are disappointing. But, it’s important to recognize that, despite last week’s referendum results, the movement for electoral reform has never had more potential than it has right now.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault has pledged to introduce legislation for a proportional voting system during his first year in office.  

Residents of Prince Edward Island will be asked to vote in a referendum on electoral reform at their next provincial election. This follows a victory for PR advocates in the 2016 plebiscite on electoral reform where a majority of participating Islanders voted for a mixed member proportional system. However, the PEI government chose not to honour the results of the vote claiming that voter turnout for the plebiscite was too low to justify changing the voting system.

Many Canadians were disappointed when Justin Trudeau backed down from his promise to make the 2015 election the last federal election held under first-past-the-post. However, in the wake of this broken promise, Fair Voting BC and Springtide have been fighting back by partnering on the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting.

What is the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting?

The Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is a legal case that will challenge the fairness of Canada’s the first-past-the-post voting system in court. We know that our voting system is unfair. We know that the majority of votes cast in Canadian elections (provincial or federal) are cast for candidates who don’t end up in Parliament. We know that majority governments are typically elected with the support of only a minority of voters. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees each Canadian’s right to vote, to effective representation, and to equal treatment before and under the law. When governments won’t acknowledge or respond to these violations, citizens rely on the Courts to ensure such rights are respected.

Since the Charter was adopted in the 1980s, Courts have been ruling on whether election law has violated our charter rights. Past rulings have made it clear that ‘the right to vote’ means more than simply having the right to cast a ballot on election day. The Courts have ruled that each Canadian has the right to ‘effective representation.’ Former Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin noted in one ruling that “each citizen is entitled to be represented in government” and that “representation [means] having a voice in the deliberations of government.”  

What a successful charter challenge looks like

The goals of the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting are two-fold:

1: To have the Supreme Court rule that Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system contravenes the Charter

2: To have the Court order the government to adopt a voting system that complies with the Charter (which we will argue can only be done through some form of proportional representation).

If we get a favourable decision from this Charter Challenge, it would first impact the federal electoral system, and it would set a precedent for decisions to be made in provincial courts for decades to come.

Here is where you come in:

Mounting a court case like this is no small task. It starts with filing an application in a provincial court, and if we're lucky it will end several years with a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada. 

With the support of nearly 500 donors already, we’ve retained a top notch lawyer - Nicolas Rouleau - who has argued and won important cases before the Supreme Court.  Nicolas recently prepared a strategic plan that outlines the arguments and strategy needed to win this case. We need your help to make it happen.

Right now, we're campaigning to raise $70,000. This money will cover the legal fees and campaign costs associated with the case.

Once we have raised $70,000 we will be able to:

- officially file the case in a provincial court,

- prepare the necessary evidence for the case, and

- secure expert testimony. 

Can you help us with a year-end donation?

Springtide is a registered charity, so, any donations greater than $25 are eligible for a charitable donation tax credit. The total value of this credits varies by province, ranging from a 19% to 35% refund for the first $200 donated, and a 40% - 53% refund on any amounts donated above $200. 

If you contribute before midnight on December 31st, you can use that tax receipt to claim your credit when file your income taxes in early 2019.

Can you contribute today to make sure this case goes forward?

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Stay tuned to this blog for updates on electoral reform and the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting.

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Sign up for email updates from the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting here:

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  • Mark Coffin
    published this page in Blog Updates 2018-12-26 19:36:33 -0400


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Current Status:

We are raising the money necessary to file the case in court. In the Fall of 2018 we received a strategic opinion from the lawyer we have retained, advising us on the approach and lines of argument for fighting this case.
 

How you can help

We need to raise $70,000 to be fully prepared to file. You can donate here.


What to expect

- Once we file, the case will be heard in a provincial court.

- Following an initial decision, there will be an appeal heart in another court. If the initial decision is in our favour, the Government of Canada will likely appeal it. If the decision is not in our favour, we will appeal it.

- Finally, if the Court chooses to grant this case leave, it will be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada, where the decision will be final. If the case isn’t granted leave, the decision of the appeal court is final.


Time and Money

We estimate the total costs for arguing and overseeing this case to be in the range of $250,000 - $300,000, spread out over the course of 2 - 4 years.

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