Supreme Court Confirms MP Ted Optitz’s Election Win

The Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 25 that Conservative MP Ted Opitz will not lose his seat, overturning a lower court ruling that had thrown out the 2011 federal election result in Etobicoke Centre.

In May, an Ontario judge ruled that there were sufficient irregularities around missing paperwork and improperly registered voters at polling stations in the Toronto riding to discard 79 ballots, negating Opitz's 26-vote margin over Liberal Borys Wrzewsnewskyj.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court found reason to reinstate 59 of those ballots, which was sufficient to enable  Opitz's election to stand. The majority decision stated that the entitlement to vote cannot be annulled due to procedural errors and that there was a lack of evidence that most of the discarded ballots came from voters who were not qualified to vote.

The majority decision said that there was no reason to believe that the 20 remaining voters were not entitled to vote. Because the remaining 20 votes were less than Opitz’s election night 26-vote margin of victory, the court allowed the May 2, 2011 outcome to stand.

Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand said he is studying the decision, and that he has already announced tighter voting procedures and training of election volunteers in advance of three federal by-elections scheduled for Nov. 26 in the ridings of Durham, Calgary Centre and Victoria.

At no time in the dispute over the Etobicoke Centre election was there any allegation or proof of wrongdoing on the part of either candidate. All of the impugned errors were attributed to officials or employees of Elections Canada.

This leaves the Conservative Party of Canada with a strong majority of 163 seats compared with the combined opposition representation of 142, with 3 vacancies in the 308 seat House of Commons.

- Beverly Brooks

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