Elections Canada has made a last-minute motion to file new evidence to the Supreme Court of Canada in Conservative MP Ted Opitz’s appeal of an April court decision that overturned the federal election result in Etobicoke Centre.
Elections Canada says it has located some of the voters whose ballots were thrown out because of registration certificates that were missing or were unsigned.
In a motion filed with the Supreme Court a few days ago, Elections Canada says it conducted what it calls “The Probe” shortly after Liberal Borys Wrzesnewskyj won his application to have the 2011 election result declared void in the Toronto riding.
The reversal of the Etobicoke Centre election result was as a result of a court ruling, not an Elections Canada investigation—those probes take years, as the Dean Del Mastro affair (dating back to the 2008 election) makes plain. Indeed, it seems that the razor-thin margin won by the Conservative candidate was due, at least in part, to Elections Canada bungling in the polling stations—although other factors must be considered as well.
Appropriate questions are being raised about this last-minute Elections Canada ploy:
In its motion, Elections Canada says it is a neutral party and takes no position on whether the evidence should be added to the appeal.
But the motion raises a question about why Elections Canada didn’t do this research when Wrzesnewskyj first raised the issue of missing registration certificates.
An Elections Canada briefing note obtained by CBC through Access to Information shows that election officials knew as early as last fall, months before the first court hearing in April, that many registration certificates could not be found.
Odd, that. Anyone still want to argue that Elections Canada is the appropriate vehicle to investigate irregularities in 200 ridings before and during the 2011 election?
UPDATE: (August 21) The well-regarded Alice Funke of Pundits’ Guide informs me that it was Elections Canada CEO Marc Mayrand who made this decision, not the new Commissioner. But somehow that deepens my gloom.