2015–16 Estimates – Report on Plans and Priorities
Judicial Proceedings (Concluded and Ongoing)
Henry v. Canada (Attorney General)
On January 30, 2008, an action was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by individuals and groups challenging the constitutionality of the new voter identification requirements in the Canada Elections Act. The applicants claimed that the requirements would prevent electors from exercising their right to vote, as guaranteed by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On May 3, 2010, the judge ruled that, while the provisions of the Act that require electors to prove their identity and residence infringe the right to vote guaranteed by section 3 of the Charter, such a restriction is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. The validity of the provision at issue was therefore upheld.
The applicants appealed the decision and the appeal was heard by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on February 4, 2013. The appeal was dismissed by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on January 28, 2014. An application to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal was dismissed on July 17, 2014.
Application of James Bezan, MP, under s. 459 of the Canada Elections Act
On May 24, 2013, Mr. Bezan, MP for the electoral district of Selkirk–Interlake, filed an application in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench. The application sought relief from the Chief Electoral Officer’s request under s. 457(2) that he correct his campaign returns to reflect the full costs of billboards used during the 39th, 40th and 41st general elections. The application also involved the need to correct the return to account for an MP householder sent out during the 41st general election. Following discussions respecting the proper way to account for the signs and householder, the CEO accepted Mr. Bezan’s returns for the 39th and 40th general elections. Mr. Bezan has filed a corrected return for the 41st general election and has withdrawn his application.
Wozenilek v. Elections Canada
Mr. Wozenilek claimed before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that Elections Canada treated him in an adverse differential manner because of his disability, which requires him to use a wheelchair. Specifically, Mr. Wozenilek alleged that the absence of an automatic door opening device at the returning office in his electoral district and at his polling site impaired his ability to vote. Mr. Wozenilek claimed damages in the amount of $40,000 and requests that all returning offices and polling sites feature automatic door openers. Elections Canada and Mr. Wozenilek reached a settlement in this matter on August 27, 2014.
Frank & Duong vs. Attorney General of Canada
On May 18, 2012, the applicants challenged the constitutionality of the provisions of the Canada Elections Act which prohibit Canadians citizens resident outside Canada for five consecutive years from voting in a federal election.
On May 2, 2014, Justice Penny of the Ontario Superior Court found the provisions in question to be unconstitutional. The Attorney General of Canada filed a notice of appeal. The appeal will be heard on January 6 and 7, 2015. The Chief Electoral Officer has been granted leave to participate as an intervener.
Klevering v. Attorney General of Canada et al.
The applicant alleged in the Federal Court that the results of the 41st general election in the electoral district of Guelph were affected by deceptive calls designed to mislead electors about the location of their polling sites. On September 19, 2013, the prothonotary dismissed the application on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence that the misleading calls affected the integrity of the results and because the application was filed past the 30-day deadline.
On February 18, 2014, after unsuccessfully attempting to file an appeal of the prothonotary’s decision with the Supreme Court of Canada, the applicant filed a motion in Federal Court requesting an extension of time to file an appeal of the prothonotary’s decision and appealing that decision. On April 22, 2014, Justice Hughes dismissed the appeal. On May 1, 2014, the applicant served a notice of appeal of Justice Hughes’ decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. No date has been set for the hearing at this time.
The Council of Canadians, The Canadian Federation of Students, Jessica McCormick, Peggy Walsh Craig, and Sandra McEwing v. Attorney General of Canada
On October 9, 2014, the applicants challenged the constitutionality of An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make Consequential Amendments to Certain Acts (the Fair Elections Act) alleging that, in breach of section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), certain provisions place unreasonable restrictions on identification requirements, restrict the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer to provide public education programs, and eliminate the Chief Electoral Officer’s authority regarding enforcement and compliance activities. In addition, the applicants allege that contrary to section 15 of the Charter, the Fair Elections Act denies electors an equal opportunity to vote. No date has been set for the hearing at this time. Elections Canada is not a party in this matter.
East v. Elections Canada
Mr. East claims that Elections Canada treated him in an adverse differential manner because he is blind. Mr. East alleges, among other things, that Elections Canada failed during the 2011 general election to provide a process that allowed him to vote independently and in secrecy. The matter has been referred to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The parties are currently participating in a mediation process.
Rae v. Elections Canada
Mr. Rae claims that Elections Canada treated him in an adverse differential manner because he is blind. Mr. Rae alleges that Elections Canada failed to provide a process that allowed him to vote independently and in secrecy during the 2013 by-election in the Toronto Center electoral disctrict. The matter has been referred to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
In a few other cases, Elections Canada is the defendant or respondent in proceedings arising from incidents that occurred during previous elections. These cases are following their normal course through the courts.