Canada court tackles election with 26-vote margin

Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:15pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Supreme Court of Canada wrestled with how easily an election can be overturned because of clerical errors on Tuesday in a case brought by a Liberal candidate who lost a federal election last year by 26 votes.

The court's decision on the race in a Toronto district, between Conservative Ted Opitz and Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj, will not jeopardize the Conservative government's hold on power, because it has a comfortable majority in Parliament.

But it was set against the backdrop of separate court challenges to results in seven other districts where Conservatives are accused of seeking to suppress the votes of non-Conservatives, charges the Conservatives deny.

In Tuesday's case, Opitz sought to overturn a lower court ruling that invalidated his slim May 2011 election victory.

Wrzesnewskyj had challenged the results, accusing the federal elections board, Elections Canada, of irregularities including not being able to produce registration certificates to back up the right to vote.

"We know that people that showed up with no ID were allowed to vote. That speaks to the integrity of the system here," Wrzesnewskyj told reporters in the court's foyer.

"How can we have confidence in the laws enacted by parliamentarians when we can't have confidence in who it was that actually was elected?"

There were no allegations of intentional wrongdoing.   Continued...