Court challenge against Canada’s unfair voting system to be filed today

For immediate release: October 9th, 2019

(Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver) - With the financial support of over 800 Canadians from all provinces and two territories, a pair of non-profit organizations will file a court challenge this morning to contest the constitutionality of the voting system used in Canadian federal elections. 

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Fighting First-Past-The-Post in Court: What Does Winning Look Like?

When Antony from Fair Voting BC first approached me about collaborating on this charter challenge I was intrigued, but hesitant. Would the courts really entertain a challenge that would take them into the politically charged territory of voting system reform? What does a win look like for our case?

In this post, I’d like to share some of the answers to that question, which led to the organization I run, Springtide, agreeing to collaborate with Fair Voting BC on this project.

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Why We're Asking the Courts to Strike Down First-Past-The-Post

Many Canadians were disappointed when Justin Trudeau decided not to honour his commitment to get rid of Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system. We were too.

History has taught us that we can’t always depend on elected politicians to stand up for civil rights. When politicians don’t stand up for civil rights, it’s up to citizens to fight for those rights in court. Nobody else can do it for us.⁣⁣ That's why we began organizing a court challenge against our broken voting system.⁣⠀

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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.

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Progress Update: BC Results, Strategic Opinion, Next Steps

As you’ve likely heard, the results of the BC referendum on electoral reform are in, and British Columbians have voted to keep first-past-the-post. I was disappointed to hear the results, as I’m sure you were. I’m heartened, however, by the energy and momentum that has been harnessed by pro-reform organizers in BC, and hopeful that we can channel that energy into a stronger movement for proportional representation in Canada. 

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Here's how electoral reform could work in Canada: four alternatives

One of the goals of the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is to have the Supreme Court of Canada order the government to develop a voting system that is compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

This post introduces the types of voting systems that exist around the world, including the systems that would be strong candidates to replace the first-past-the-post voting system, if the Court were to call for its replacement. 

There are nearly as many voting systems as there are countries in the world, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. In this post, I’ll share some of the basics about what each system looks like in one spot. 

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Charter Challenge: September Update

Here's the latest update on the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting. 

In our last update to you we shared: 
- that we'd raised just under $43,000 to support the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting 
- that we would share another update once once we'd retained legal counsel for the case 

Here's where things are at now: 

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3 quiet revelations about electoral reform that surfaced since parliament last met

It's been two-and-a-half months since the House of Commons last met. Electoral reform is officially no-longer part of the Trudeau government's agenda, but there have been some quiet developments on the electoral reform file nonetheless. 

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July Update: Charter Challenge for Fair Voting

At the time of writing, 426 Canadians have donated $42,998 to bring this case to court! 

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May 31st: Parliament's Last Chance

Update: the vote described below failed. On May 31st, 159 MPs voted against the motion supporting the recommendations of the special committee on electoral reform, and just 146 MPs voted in favour of it.   

On May 31st, members of parliament (MPs) will have one more chance to move forward on electoral reform. On Wednesday, MPs will vote on whether to accept the recommendations of the report from the House of Commons special committee on electoral reform. If that doesn't happen there is only one logical option for supporters of voter-right's. 

 

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Like and Follow

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Current Status:

- In early August of 2019, we raised enough support ($70,000) to cover the costs of preparing a court application and securing expert testimony for our case.

- The case is being filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on October 9th, 2019
 

How you can help

The main way you can help is to support the case financially. We need to raise another $150,000 to cover the costs associated with arguing the case at two levels of provincial court, and to file an application for leave with the Supreme Court of Canada. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.


What to expect

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

- Following an initial decision, there will be an appeal heard 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, the case may be heard by the Supreme Court. If the decision of the appeal court is in our favour, we suspect the Government will request leave from the Supreme Court. If the decision of the appeal court is in the government's favour, we will request leave from the Supreme Court to hear the case. If the case is heard in the Supreme Court of Canada, the decision will be final. If the case isn’t granted leave to be heard in the Supreme Court, the decision of the appeal court will be final.


Time and Money

We estimate the total costs for arguing and overseeing this case to be in the range of $300,000 - $350,000, 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.