|May 28th, 2012 by Student Vote||Leave Comments »|
In last year’s federal election, Conservative Ted Opitz defeated the incumbent Liberal candidate Borys Wrzesnewskyj by only 26 votes. Wrzesnewskyj had held the Etobicoke Centre seat since 2004.
Because of the close finish, and several “voting irregularities,” Wrzesnewskyj challenged the election results. Wrzesnewskyj’s lawyer argued that up to 181 votes were in dispute. According to CBC News, some voters who were not on the voters list were alleged to have been vouched for by those without proper paperwork or those who did not live in the riding. As well, some may have been permitted to vote more than once.
Wrzesnewskyj believes these errors compromised the election result, and Justice Thomas Lederer – the judge in the case – agreed in his ruling on May 18th. Opitz appealed the decision on May 28th; the case will now be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada as early as next month.
If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, Prime Minister Stephen Harper would have six months to call the by-election. In March, a federal by-election was held in the riding of Toronto Centre to replace Jack Layton.
Do you think it’s fair to nullify an election result more than a year after the fact? Opitz has now held the Etobicoke Centre post for a year, but there are still more than 3 years until the next federal election. It is important to note that Opitz and his campaign team have been in no way accused or implicated in the reported errors.
The last time a disputed result ended in a by-election was in the then-federal riding of York North in Ontario. In the 1988 election, Liberal Maurizio Bevilacqua defeated PC challenger Michael O’Brien by only 77 votes; however, the result was later declared “void and invalid.” Bevilacqua won the resulting by-election – held more than a year later – by more than 7,000 votes.
Voter turnout in Etobicoke Centre was an impressive 65% in 2011. It will be interesting to see how a by-election call will influence turnout and the overall result. In the 2011 Student Vote, Wrzesnewskyj decisively defeated Opitz by 13 percentage points.
An earlier version of this blog was posted last week.
Do you want to receive the Student Vote Blog by email? Sign up here!
About Student Vote
Non-partisan organization engaging young Canadians in the democratic process.
View all posts by Student Vote →