Court Voids Etobicoke Centre Result

A ruling throwing out the federal election results for Etobicoke Centre means incumbent Conservative MP Ted Opitz could have to face the riding's former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj in a byelection.

An Ontario judge has voided the federal election results for Etobicoke Centre due to voter irregularities, setting the stage for either a byelection or an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who lost to Conservative Ted Opitz by 26 votes, appealed the results claiming some individuals were allowed to vote on election day without proper identity verification.

In a landmark decision, Justice Thomas Lederer set aside 52 votes on account of failure of registration and 27 votes on account of failure of vouching, for a total of 79 invalid votes.

Since this exceeds the number of votes Opitz won by, his victory has been declared null and void.

“If this case can be summarized, in a single observation, it would be that it cannot be good enough to accept that individuals who voted were qualified to do so by registration, in the absence of the registration certificates, in the absence of the poll books recording anyone who registered by vouching and in the absence of the names from the final list of electors,” the ruling reads. “Our system requires more.”

This is the first time a court has had to rule on a contested election using part 20 of the Canada Elections Act. It states that an elector or candidate may seek to invalidate an election in a riding if “there were irregularities, fraud, corrupt or illegal practices that affected the results of the election.”

In a 41-page report, Lederer points out numerous transgressions on behalf of Elections Canada.

For example, in one polling division, five voters who voted by registration certificate are crossed off the electors’ list in another division, which means they most likely voted twice.

In Division 31, where 86 people voted by registration certificate (without actual voter identification), Wrzesnewskyj’s lawyers allege that 68 of those voters actually lived outside of the polling area and should not have been allowed to vote there.

Lederer does not place the blame squarely at Elections Canada’s feet.

“So far as I can see, this election was conducted by responsible public officials and well-intentioned individuals who were motivated by nothing less than a desire to do the job properly,” the ruling reads. “This is not a circumstance where any individual is at fault.”

Opitz has eight days to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. If that fails, a byelection will be held within six months.

Elections Canada declined to comment on the results in case the decision is appealed.



  1. The Conservative party should give consideration to the fact that the electorate in Etobicoke Centre wants to revisit the results of the past election. It would be hypocritical to assume that any win based upon on doubtful ballots will do nothing but erode the credibility of the MP in this riding. There are two major issues in this by-election that the Conservative Party should address.
    The first is that of Elections Canada. Chief Electoral Officer Marc Maynard’s admission that some votes violated the electoral rules is a cause for great concern. This indicates that in close elections (voting margins less than one hundred votes), Elections Canada’s errors could cheat the electorate by as many as 30 seats (10% of national ridings) and thereby provide one party or another a majority where no majority was actually earned. I would hope that Elections Canada views Judge Lederer’s decision as an object lesson and generate correctives in our electoral system. For this, we need to thank Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s challenge to Elections Canada.
    I’ve sat in on one of Mr. Opitz’s community meetings and needless to say, public opinion is anti-Conservative because they’ve exceeded their mandate. I constantly heard the public respond with, “If I had known that the Conservative Party was going to change OAS; lie to us on the F35 procurement; . . . I would never have voted for them.” The change in OAS represents a loss of about $13,000 to $15,000 “out of the pockets of seniors over the course of those two years. A conservative mouthpiece at the meeting retorted that, “we’ve not touched the CPP, OAS is a bonus and we’re not paying that bonus in the first two years. Just in contrast, Harper will be eligible for a pension of $233,000 per year in 2015.
    The electorate is rightfully concerned about returning Mr. Opitz to parliament. Conservatives have driven up the national debt from $480B to $ 635B during their time in office. (CFIB Economics) The total National and provincial debts have topped a record $1.1 trillion – just under $32,000 per capita debt. Politics have changed since Harper made the scene. The Conservatives won’t run on a platform anymore – let’s surprise them after we get elected. We don’t need the truth – truth just gets in the way of the conservative agenda. No-one speaks for the Harper Government but Harper himself – end even then, pronouncements are made on foreign soil.
    Etobians welcome the chance to vote again in Etobicoke Centre but this time based on a truthful discussion of party platforms, party record and personal character. Perhaps this is where the Conservative Party should concentrate their efforts. Taking this issue to the Supreme Court of Canada would be an act of weakness and fear on behalf of the conservatives – and Etobians will see it for what it is – another way of scamming an electoral seat and not owning up to the truth, and that is that the true will of Etobicoke Centre needs to be expressed, wants to be expressed and must be expressed.

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