We have reached a significant milestone in the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting - we have served the government with our evidence package. This evidence supports our fight for a voting system that gives Canadians fair and equal representation in our democratic systems.
The evidence package includes four expert affidavits from leading researchers in political science and political theory addressing the key elements of our case:
- Prof. Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University) - the relationship between voting and political representation
- Prof. John Carey (Dartmouth College) - comparing voting systems
- Prof. Karen Bird (McMaster University) - representation of women and visible minorities
- Prof. Lawrence LeDuc (University of Toronto) - voter participation, history of proportional voting in Canada and previous reform efforts
In the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to these experts and provide highlights from their affidavits. We will also share original analyses from Byron Weber Becker (University of Waterloo) and Antony Hodgson (Fair Voting BC). Several voters from various political perspectives have also submitted affidavits outlining how the current voting system leaves them feeling disenfranchised.
For those of you who are keen to dig in right away, we have posted the affidavits here.
The federal government will review our evidence and select their own expert witnesses. Following, both sides will have a chance to cross-examine any of the witnesses and we will have an opportunity to file any additional evidence necessary to address the government’s submission. At that point, each side will prepare its factum (the written argument we will submit to the court) and agree on a time to go to court.
Supporting the Challenge
Over 900 of you have helped us reach this major milestone – thank you! Our next stage of work - cross-examination will likely cost about $35,000, and we’ll be sharing more details about our goals and timelines in our upcoming emails. Please support our next steps by donating monthly.
As always, anyone who gives $25 or more in a year will receive a charitable donation tax receipt for their contributions.
Thank you for your continued support. More to come soon!
Jesse Hitchcock, Springtide
Antony Hodgson, Fair Voting BC
We are pleased to share an update on the Charter Challenge case. I’ll start this Charter Challenge update with a bit of housekeeping. As you likely know, Mark Coffin has moved on as the Executive Director of Springtide and the Board of Directors has formed a working group to focus solely on the Charter Challenge. That’s where I come in! Along with Antony at Fair Voting BC, I'll be the conduit between our legal team, the working group and our donors and supporters. You can learn more about me here -- It’s very nice to e-meet you all and to kick off the fall with a positive update!
There have been many exciting developments in the Charter Challenge since we last shared an update! In August we introduced our first expert witness, Columbia University Professor Nadia Urbinati, whose affidavit outlines how first-past-the-post hinders the ability of Canadians to have a meaningful voice in government. As we speak, we have several additional experts preparing their affidavits and we can’t wait to share them with you. Their testimony explores the ways in which our voting system fails to deliver representation, how it discriminates against women and visible minorities, and why politicians are in an inherent conflict of interest regarding change. We are on schedule to file these affidavits later this fall.
In the meantime, the Challenge is garnering some media attention. University of Toronto Professor David Beatty shared his thoughts and perspective in the Globe and Mail on September 21st. He stated that “[the] case is a classic example of how Charter challenges can make government more democratic. It is a powerful way of making sure politicians do their jobs.” and he offered the suggestion that Prime Minister Trudeau “fast-track” the Challenge to the Supreme Court. Also of note, he indicated that “the challenge to the Canada Election Act should be big news. Its chances of winning are very good.” Prof. Beatty’s piece sparked even more dialogue with a rebuttal in the National Post. These are all indicators that the electoral reform conversation is alive and well in Canada, and we’ll need all of your voices to amplify the Challenge as we move forward.
Our goal is to file all of the evidence by the end of this year, and we’ll be introducing the remaining expert witnesses at that time. Following the filing, the timing largely depends on the courts and the response-time of the government. We’ll keep you updated by hosting another webinar with Nicolas to share more details and answer questions. Of course, we’ll require support from you and other donors to continue advancing the case. We’ll have more details about the level of support required in our next update.
We have some exciting milestones coming up, and we’re looking forward to your continued support and enthusiasm for the Challenge. You can expect regular quarterly updates from us going forward, with the occasional off-cycle update when we have important news to share.
Jesse Hitchcock & Antony Hodgson
On behalf of Springtide and Fair Voting BC
PS: Many of you continue to support the case as monthly donors - thank you! You can join them and contribute to the case for as little as a dollar a month here. All monthly donations are held to support future stages of work on the case. Current donors can adjust their monthly donation amount by emailing [email protected]
Thanks to the supporters of this case, a year ago this week we met a key fundraising goal for the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting. We’re checking in today with an update on the progress we’ve made since then.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.⠀
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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: