Monday, October 29, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada VS Democracy

Well the Supreme Court of Canada heard the arguments and had their deliberations and reached a verdict…

And Ted Opitz retains his seat.

I think this is a bad ruling.  I am not alone.

This is not a partisan issue, but it could be in the future. 

It is a responsibility issue. 

Voting is not democracy, it is only a part of it.  But it is the only part that many people take part in.  The fact that ballots were cast without proper records kept is troubling.

Most of us take the Voter Card with us when we go to vote simply because it says to on the card.  Some of us forget our cards, some of us don’t have a card because we moved recently and didn’t have an opportunity to get the new card before the election and that is why there are provisions in place to handle these instances.

If I were to show up at the polls without my card and without enough documentation to show who I am, I can still vote if someone verifies who I am. 

“I know Bear Cat, he lives down the street from me. Here’s my documentation to show who I am, I’ll sign for him.”

This document is my proof.  It is a government document and should be treated as such.  If the document is lost, or not filled out properly then should my vote count?

The Court says yes.  I say no.

Simply put, the number of ballots in the box should equal the number of people stroked off the list plus any documents for people who weren’t on the list but were eligible to vote at that poll.

And the documents must be complete.

It is not that hard, and yet with our Elections Canada staff and scrutineers from the parties there it still happened.

I’m not calling for anything as severe as some of the legislation in the US where you cannot vote unless you provide proper documentation.  These laws are so strict that voters can be denied simply because they do not drive.  Let’s face it, besides our driver’s licence most of us don’t have enough Government Issue documentation to prove who we are.

Our system is simple and it works if it is applied properly.  In this case there was a breakdown and Elections Canada cannot show that every ballot cast was proper.  This leaves an opening for abuse and hindsight being what it is, if there is an opportunity for abuse, abuse will occur.

If this had happened during a “normal” election where the plurality is usually in the hundreds if not thousands, this would not be such an issue… But it still would be an issue.

Boris Wrzesnewskyj’s challenge to the results of the past federal election in Etobicoke was because the number of disputed ballots was greater than the plurality, the number of votes that decided the election in that riding.  Ted Opitz countered that overturning the result would disenfranchise voters, telling them that their vote didn’t count.

We do not know who the disputed ballots were for.  We do not know if they were all for one candidate or another.  But we do not know that they weren’t either.  We don’t know if these people voted twice, or were entitled to vote at all.

The Supreme Court of Canada had an opportunity to tell Canadians that their vote is important, that the rules in place are good.  They chose not to.

Four votes to Three.  The right of a citizen to vote is more important than the determination of whether an individual is entitled to vote.

At the very root of this it is not a Wrzesnewskyj vs Opitz matter or even a Liberal vs Harper Party matter.  It is about our faith in the system and that Elections Canada must show that they are capable of handling a proper election.

It appears that Elections Canada may not be capable… But the Supreme Court of Canada saved their bacon.

Afterthought… In a post ruling photo-op with Ted Opitz, Stephen Harper said something about improving our election system.  Why does this scare me?

Happy Hallowe’en, BC

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