March 16, 2015
Ottawa — The Canadian Federation of Students, the Council of Canadians, and three voters have applied for an injunction to suspend key provisions of the “Fair” Elections Act for the upcoming federal election.
The applicants argue that the elimination of both the voter information card as acceptable proof of identity or residence and the practice of vouching breaches section three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees Canadians the right to vote.
“Youth and students are particularly targeted by these restrictive voter ID policies,” said Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “This injunction could defend the rights of all Canadians to participate in fully in this year’s election.”
“Canadians should know that this law makes it harder for many people to vote and will disenfranchise thousands of voters. If the provisions we are challenging aren’t struck down, the validity of the next election could be in question,” said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.
As noted in the motion, an injunction would make it possible “for thousands of qualified voters, who will not be able to vote if the Impugned Provisions remain in effect, to obtain a ballot and to vote.”
The applicants note the impacts that the legislation could have on the next election: “If the Impugned Provisions remain in effect for the next General Election, and the Applicants subsequently succeed in establishing that qualified electors were unlawfully denied their right to vote, public confidence in the results of the election itself will be undermined, particularly if the number of disenfranchised electors in particular ridings is greater than the margin of victory for the winning candidate.”
“The failure of the Government to adhere to conventional norms in enacting the FEA [Fair Elections Act] by conducting no meaningful consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer weakens the presumption that the FEA is in the public interest,” the applicants argue in the motion. “That failure is all the more important given the core importance of the CEA [Canada Elections Act], the fundamental constitutional right it gives expression to, and the opportunity for such reforms to convey partisan political advantage.”
If the applicants’ motion succeeds, key provisions of the legislation would not be in effect in the upcoming election pending a full hearing by the court on the merits of the case.
A scheduling hearing this week will determine when the injunction motion will be heard.
For more information:
Sujata Dey, Council of Canadians 613-796-7724, email@example.com