If there is enough evidence that enough voters were illegally deterred from voting to throw the Nipissing-Timiskaming result into question, a by-election could result that would be deeply embarrassing for the Conservatives. But how exactly does that happen? This is where circumstances favour the government.
Under the Canada Elections Act, any voter within a riding can apply for a judicial order nullifying the result of an election in that riding on the grounds of “irregularities, fraud or corrupt or illegal practices.”
In practice, no judge will entertain such a motion unless there is good evidence the irregularities could have put the outcome in doubt. Allegations involving a hundred voters won’t get very far if one side won by 10,000 votes. But Nipissing-Timiskaming was so close that it might not take much to get a judge’s attention.
An Elections Canada report alleging misdeeds in the riding would be the most credible evidence of potential fraud. But the Commissioner of Canada Elections typically makes no declaration about a riding unless and until it agrees with the Office of the Public Prosecutor to lay a charge. That might not happen for many months, if ever.
If there was sufficient evidence of wrongdoing in Nipissing–Timiskaming to bring that 18-vote plurality into doubt, a judge could nullify the election, which would force a by-election. But before that happened, either side could appeal the decision directly to the Supreme Court.
In other words, even if there was hanky-panky in the riding so serious that it warranted a by-election, if could take years before that by-election was called. It might even be overtaken by a general election.
No wonder the Conservatives are hunkering down on this one. Unless clear evidence emerges of wrongdoing, time and the law are on their side.
A month of controversy over pensions, privacy and Pierre Poutine has failed to dent support for the Conservative Party, according to a new poll by Nanos Research.
Support for the Tories remained exactly the same – at 35.7 per cent – compared to a month earlier. Support for the Liberals climbed slightly to 29.5 per cent from 27.6 per cent, while the NDP’s numbers were essentially unchanged at 25 per cent.
The survey found jobs and the economy now dominate as the top issue of concern for Canadians, which pollster Nik Nanos said may explain why voters are largely unmoved by the daily furor in the House of Commons. ...
The Nanos survey was also conducted shortly after Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae apologized for the fact that a Liberal staffer was behind an anonymous Twitter account called Vikileaks30 that posted personal information about Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. The account claimed to be set up to protest against Bill C-30, which would expand police surveillance powers over the Internet.
Mr. Nanos said the Vikileaks story likely reinforced the cynicism among voters that no party is above dirty tricks.
“I think for many average Canadians who are very cynical, they find it hard to believe that politics of any colour is ethical,” he said. “The unfortunate timing of the Vikileaks thing for the Liberals basically illustrated the point that, you know what, there are rogue elements in parties that do things that are inappropriate and unsavory. The thing is that on the robo-call affair, and when we look at politics, I’m not sure that there’s any moral high ground that any of the parties can claim.”
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