Restitution

On Friday, August 3rd, 2012 in Blogs
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A few weeks ago I talked to a Globe and Mail reporter about the possibilities for cross party cooperation. I shared with her that (my own opinion, and not a party decision) that a good place to start would be in any possible by-election in Etobicoke Centre.  The reactions have been interesting. I received a lot of support and some pretty nasty attacks. But neither those who agreed with the proposal or who disagreed quite understood my rationale.

It is not about strategic voting (how could it be since I am proposing the NDP and Greens do not run a candidate?) It is not about “helping” any party or candidate.

It is about the voters in Etobicoke Centre. It is about restitution. 

In tort law, the idea of restitution is that after a wrong (a tort) has been done the person who has been damaged should have restitution. And “restitution” means that the wronged person should be restored to the position in which they found themselves before the wrong occurred.

A by-election ordered by a court having found that errors in the voting process invalidate the earlier result is highly unusual.  It is nothing like a by-election created by an MP resigning or dying. In those cases, there is a whole new election. There is no “wrong;” no one is damaged; no one needs to be restored to the position in which they found themselves had the wrong not occurred.

But a by-election created by a court action is altogether different.

On May 2, 2011, the voters in Etobicoke Centre went out to vote. They cast their ballots in a way that (at least the Federal Court) found would have resulted in the Liberal incumbent being re-elected. Due to irregularities, that is not what occurred. 

If the Supreme Court orders a by-election, should anyone be thinking of how to make restitution to the voters? To put the voters back in the situation in which they found themselves on May 2, 2011, in a by-election, more than a year later, is there a fairer way for partisans to step back and help justice to be done?

I may be wrong. But, at least now you know why I think I might be right.

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