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. 

The Charter Challenge for Fair Voting is a court challenge driven by the understanding that each Canadian has the right to effective representation and equal treatment before the law; and that these rights are violated by the federal voting system. The case will be filed in Toronto this morning with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

What’s the problem? 

  • In the 2015 federal election 52% of voters cast ballots for candidates that didn’t end up in Parliament, and roughly half of Canadian voters are regularly unrepresented in any given Canadian parliament.
  • Votes are converted into seats in Parliament in an arbitrary and unfair manner, resulting in an arbitrary and unfair distribution of legislative power. 
  • Many voters repeatedly face strong incentives to vote ‘strategically’ for candidates other than their preferred choice, in order to prevent an even less appealing candidate from winning. 

What is the goal of this challenge?

  • To have Canadian courts rule that Canada’s unfair voting system does not meet the requirements of the Charter, specifically sections 3 and 15, and to have the courts order the government to develop a charter-compliant voting system where all voters are represented in Parliament. 
  • Under section 3, the application filed today argues that the federal voting system violates Canadians’ rights to effective representation, meaningful participation, and fair and legitimate elections. 
  • Under section 15, the filing claims that FPTP discriminates against voters and candidates on the basis of political belief and against candidates on the basis of race, sex, and ethnicity.  

Who is involved? 

  • The challenge is a collaboration between Fair Voting BC and Springtide (based in Nova Scotia). Fair Voting BC and Springtide have both been active in research and advocacy for electoral reform at the federal level. Both groups are named as applicants in the Notice of Application filed this morning. 
  • Springtide and Fair Voting BC have retained Toronto-based constitutional lawyer Nicolas Rouleau as legal counsel. 
  • Financial support for the case comes from over 800 individual donors, and organizers will continue to seek the support of Canadians to advance the case as it progresses. 

More information: 

  • The Notice of Application being filed today is available here.
  • Charter Challenge for Fair Voting website:
  • Follow the Charter Challenge for Fair Voting for case updates on Twitter: @challenge4fv
  • Concerned Canadians can help support the costs of advancing this case with a tax-deductible donation here.


“Canada's first-past-the-post system is unfair to large segments of the population. It discriminates against and fails to represent minorities. It leaves countless other Canadians with little voice in the deliberations of Parliament. There is a strong argument that it is unconstitutional.” 

- Nicolas Rouleau, legal counsel

“We live in a representative democracy. Every voter’s vote should help elect an MP who will represent their views in Parliament.” 

- Antony Hodgson, president of Fair Voting BC 

“We have a voting system that reliably excludes millions of Canadian voters from being represented by someone for whom they have voted.” 

- Mark Coffin, executive director of Springtide 



To arrange an interview, or for more information. please contact: 

Mark Coffin 


[email protected]

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

Get Charter Challenge updates by following SPRINGTIDE on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Mark Coffin
    published this page in Blog Updates 2019-10-09 11:53:12 -0300

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Key Events in the Case:

  • We're currently waiting for our appeal to be heard (scheduled for Nov 2024)
  • We submitted our appeal factum in late April 2024.
  • We filed our Notice of Appeal on Dec 29, 2023.
  • Justice Ed Morgan issued his ruling on Nov 30, 2023 and unfortunately dismissed our application.
  • The case was heard September 26-28, 2023 in the Ontario Superior Court.
  • We received the government's affidavits in late Fall 2022.
  • We served the government with our affidavit and evidence package in May 2021.
  • We filed the case with the Ontario Superior Court in October 2019.

How you can help

The main way you can help is to support the case financially. We are now raising $30,000 to support our preparations for filing a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (spring 2025). You can support the case for as little as a dollar a month.

What to expect

At each step, we set a donation goal based on our estimate of the costs for the next stage of the process, and invite our supporters to contribute towards that goal to ensure the case can continue to move forward.