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.⁣⠀

People are often surprised when we tell them the courts have the power to strike down first-past-the-post. Canadian courts have the power to strike down any law they deem to be unconstitutional, which includes laws that violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (a part of the constitution).

It’s always better when political leaders protect civil rights proactively, rather than in response to a court decision.

Our case is against this government, and will be fought against any future government that chooses to retain first-post-the-post as a voting system. 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 our belief that these rights are violated by the first-past-the-post voting system.

In the 2015 federal election 52% of voters cast ballots for candidates that didn’t end up in Parliament. The majority of Canadians are not represented in the House of Commons.

Our request is for the Court to rule that the first-past-the-post voting system fails to honour Canadians’ rights to effective representation and equal treatment before the law. We’ll ask the Court to order the government to develop a system where these rights are protected. We believe that only a system of proportional representation can honour these rights.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing more information about our case, the approach we plan to take, and all that goes into preparing a challenge like this.

Follow us on your favourite social media platform (Instagram, Facebook or Twitter), or subscribe for email updates to learn more.


PS: You can help move the case forward today by making a contribution towards the legal fees for this case. All donations of $25 or more are tax deductible charitable contributions.

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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.