The new ‘group of seven’
Lots of national ink has been splashed on the Yukon this week.
Sadly, it’s nothing to be proud of.
Our one and only federal seat - the one made famous by political legends like George and Martha Black, Erik Nielsen and Audrey McLaughlin - has been thrust into the eye of the national robocall storm.
It’s one of just seven ridings, in a country of 308 ridings, targeted in a legal challenge of federal election results by the Council of Canadians.
Yukon voter Tom Parlee doesn’t think it’s right that his house received a pre-recorded phone message last May 2, purportedly from Elections Canada, telling him his voting station had been changed. He checked, it hadn’t.
So Parlee is asking the Federal Court of Canada to overturn the Yukon results “on the grounds that there were irregularities, fraud or corrupt or illegal practices” that affected the outcome.
Six other voters from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C. have done the same.
Voters across the country are now inundating Elections Canada with their own tales of dirty tricks.
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Many of the races were close.
In the Yukon, Conservative Ryan Leef squeaked past Liberal Larry Bagnell by just 132 votes.
Leef says the misleading calls didn’t come from his camp. He supports Elections Canada’s efforts to get to the bottom of this mess.
But the court challenge is another matter.
He sees it as a “transparent attempt” by voters to overturn results they didn’t like. He calls it a “shotgun filing” done in the hopes that something will stick to someone somewhere.
As far as he’s concerned, it’s a “complete waste of everyone’s time and money.”
Others may beg to differ.
The right to a fair vote lies at the heart of our democracy.
The system is far from perfect, and there’s always room for improvement, but it’s better than many other countries and, more importantly, we believe in it.
If there was a systematic attempt to suppress votes, then finding out who and how and why seems to be a worthwhile endeavour.
At the very least, we’ll all come away with a better understanding of how political campaigns are won and lost, and the laws that govern the race.
We’ll know more about how parties collect voter information and use it to get our “X” on election day.
And we’ll learn more than we may ever need or want to about phone companies and calling records.
If Parlee wins, Yukoners will go another round at the polling stations.
If he loses, but appeals, his case will go before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Whatever happens in the end, Canada’s new “group of seven” will go down in political history as the first electors ever to challenge results in court.
And for giving us all a crash course in democracy along the way.
That should be worth the expense of an extra penny or two.