The Quebec Court Challenge
- Click here or button to right to register for the online presentation (webinar) (not necessary now, but appreciated as it helps us estimate how many people to expect, particularly for in-person events)
- Click here for instructions on joining webinar (we suggest you check in 10-15 minutes in advance)
A court challenge aimed at invalidating the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) electoral system is now before the Quebec Appeals Court. It was launched in 2004 in response to the repeated failures of civic actions through political means. The case focuses on the two main components of the right to vote as defined by the Supreme Court: meaningful participation and significant representation. Both are systematically violated by the current FPTP voting system. The case will be heard in the Quebec appeals court on February 8, 2011 and could be before the Canadian Supreme Court before 2012. The plaintiffs are seeking financial support for legal fees.
Canada-Wide Online Town Hall Meeting (Webinar) on Saturday, February 5th, 2011, 2-4 PM PST
Fair Voting BC is hosting a fund-raising online townhall meeting with special local meetings in Vancouver, Langley, Victoria and Kamloops on Saturday, February 5th; people elsewhere in BC, Canada and the world are invited to join us via the internet. The plaintiffs, including Mr. Patrick Daoust (founder of a Montreal-area biotechnology company, an electoral reformer since 2002, and a former Green Party of Quebec candidate in 2007 and 2008), will speak from Montreal about this case, the legal arguments and strategy, and the potential ramifications for other elections in Canada. Click on the ‘Register for Feb 5th Webinar’ link to right to sign up for either the local or online meetings. So far, we have meetings arranged in the following places:
- Vancouver Meeting will be held at Vancouver Public Library, Alma VanDusen Room
- Fort Langley – 8991 Bartlett Street (home of Tim Jones, host)
- Victoria – Emily Carr Library, 3500 Blanshard, just behind the Save-On grocery store
- Kamloops – Cafe Motivo (formerly Cowboy Coffee), 229 Victoria St
- If you would like to volunteer to coordinate a local meeting, please contact Tim Jones: tjjones4 @ telus . net
If you’ll be joining us via the internet, please check back soon for detailed instructions about how to download and use our webinar software. We suggest you download the software 15-30 minutes in advance in order to get familiar with how it works.
1. History and Jurisprudence of the case
- give an explanation of the important decisions that give us the 2 components of the right to vote; – 15 min
- explain the Oakes test and how it applies to our case – 5 min
- Explain the 2 main scenarios of the section 15 argument – 5 min
- I think we should also point out that there is no minimal guarantee give by our system (there could easily be a majority government with about 1/3 of the vote -40% of the vote in 60% of the ridings gives you 24% of those who voted). We’re asking the courts to tell us where the cut-off line is. – 5 min
15-20 minutes for questions and answers
2. The Trial
- What was argued by both sides in Superior Court (and how the context has since changed)
- The emphasis put on the historical context
- The situation in the UK
- The decision rendered
- Questions unanswered
- What will happen at the Appeals Court
- Logistics, legal arguments and expected timeline for a decision
- Intervener status for E May and FVC, Rosenthall
3. The Road to Victory
- Possible scenarios going forward
o Victory or defeat at the Appeals Court
o In the event of a victory some entity will probably ask the Supreme Court to give an opinion on the constitutionality of the current system
o Time lines….
o Possibility of a split decision and its impact on the political process
What Do The Plaintiffs Need the Money For?
Some of you have asked why the fundraising thermometer is set at $2500. The plaintiffs are a small group of private citizens who started this case out of a sense of personal responsibility and commitment. The constitutional lawyer they persuaded to join them (see below) is working pro bono, so the main costs are those associated with preparing documentation and appearing in court. We will publish a more detailed budget shortly, but their costs include:
- Some unpaid bills from the original Quebec Superior Court appearance
- $5000 for filing the factum for the appeal
- Court appearance fees for the February appeal
- Anticipated costs of upwards of $20,000 if the case goes to the Canadian Supreme Court
We here at Fair Voting BC are hoping to raise half the fees for filing the factum, which is why we’ve set the thermometer at $2500. If we reach this goal, we’ll recalibrate and aim to raise the entire $5000, so here’s your chance to do BC proud!
More About the Case:
Watch highly-respected lawyer Julius Grey describe the court case in this 3-minute video:
You can also watch John Deverell (Fair Vote Canada) and Brian Gibb (President of Association pour la Revendication des Droits Démocratiques) describe the case in this 9 minute video from Fair Vote Canada’s 2010 AGM. Brian Gibb has his own blog on this charter challenge – click here to read and there is a good story on this challenge at Rabble.ca (click here to read).
Island Tides (a Gulf Islands / Vancouver Island newspaper) published an article on January 13th, 2011 about this case. Download a PDF copy and check out page 7.
For information about an earlier federal challenge initiated by the Green Party (since dropped), please click here for a description of the case by the University of Toronto (Faculty of Law) Test Case Centre.