Yesterday, the latest attempt by Conservative MPs to derail legal proceedings on applications to overturn election results in seven ridings was argued before the Federal Court.

Their motion on “security for costs” seeks to force the nine Canadian voters who launched legal applications back in March to post an outrageous deposit of $260,409 to cover the MPs’ costs as a condition of the hearings proceeding this December.

The Canada Elections Act, which empowers Canadian voters with the legal right to contest election results if “there were irregularities, fraud or corrupt or illegal practices that affected the result of the election”, sets the security for costs for any applicant at $1,000; an amount that can be increased at the court’s discretion.

“Modest” is the term Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton used in court today to characterize the 3620% increase being sought in their motion.

Beyond outrageous, their motion is patently unjust. The right Canadians are granted to defend their democratic franchise must not be conditional upon their ability to pay such an exorbitant cost. As Steven Shrybman, lawyer for the nine applicants, noted to the court, “It would be unjust and deny the applicants access to justice by imposing an onerous financial burden that only the wealthiest individuals in our society could afford.”

What consistently seems to be lost on the seven Conservative MPs is that the applicants are not accusing them of wrongdoing. Instead, the applicants are arguing that there is evidence pointing to a widespread, centrally-managed and effective campaign of voter suppression that targeted non-Conservative supporters. And it is this indefensible violation of our democracy that has compelled them to step forward.

The nine brave applicants have nothing to personally gain from this beyond restoring the democratic rights of all the electors in their respective ridings.

But rather than allowing these cases to be judged on their merits, the MPs and their lawyers continue their relentless obstructionist and adversarial tactics at every opportunity – significantly driving up costs and further delaying the proceedings along the way.

Today’s motion hearing also provided Conservative Party lawyer Hamilton with yet another platform on which to disparage the Council of Canadians and supporters like you. In an off-hand remark to the court, Hamilton attempted to debase the Council’s involvement by alleging it is motivated only by the refusal to accept the outcome of 2011 federal election.

This prompted Madam Prothonotary Roza Aronovitch to correct Hamilton, clarifying that “The Council of Canadians is not a party in these proceedings”. Hamilton’s response was simply, “fair enough.”

As a valued supporter, I wanted to personally send you this latest update. A ruling on today’s motion is expected shortly and we will continue to keep you informed.

With hope and resolve,

Maude Barlow
National Chairperson, The Council of Canadians

PS – These landmark legal cases are being funded by public donations from ordinary people like you who believe in democracy and that election fraud cannot be tolerated. Conservative Party lawyers are driving court costs up and more donations are urgently needed for the Federal Court hearing. Your donation of $24, $247 or whatever you can afford will directly help to pursue these legal actions for as long as it takes to restore the integrity of our democracy.

Click here to donate to the Democracy 24-7 Legal Fund now!

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is also an executive member of the San Francisco–based...