OTTAWA – The Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students and three voters are seeking leave to appeal last week's ruling denying an injunction against onerous voter ID restrictions in the Fair Elections Act. An injunction would permit Elections Canada to allow all registered voters to use their Voter Information Cards as proof of address at the polls.
The ruling found that there was a serious issue to be tried and the legislation would cause irreparable harm to registered electors who are denied the right to vote under these new rules. Nevertheless, the judge declined to grant an injunction.
“We contend that the judge failed to follow Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence underscoring the need to protect the right to vote as fundamental to our democratic system,” said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.
The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, who has intervened in the case, has said that if a court decision is made in time he will allow all electors to use their Voter Information Cards, together with another piece of authorized ID, to vote in the October election.
Evidence from Harry Neufeld, former chief electoral officer of British Columbia, filed in support of the application, concludes that without an injunction “many tens of thousands of otherwise fully qualified and properly registered voters will be disenfranchised.”
Justice Stinson wrote in his ruling that "if the provision in the Fair Elections Act “is ultimately found to be unconstitutional, there will be no way to restore the right of improperly disenfranchised voters to participate in a past election.”
The factum requesting leave to appeal can be read here.