OTTAWA - It speaks volumes that no Canadian voters have come forward to swear out an affidavit saying their trips to the federal ballot box were thwarted last year by misleading robocalls, a Conservative lawyer argued Thursday.
Casting a ballot — visiting a polling station, showing ID, getting one's name crossed off the voters list — is an inherently public activity, Arthur Hamilton told a hearing that's examining the impact of the calls in six federal ridings.
"Nobody should have difficulty coming and very publicly saying 'I wanted to vote and I was stopped from voting,'" Hamilton said.
"Because that's the type of evidence that's being sought if somebody wants to overturn any of these six election results, it should be not at all difficult to find those people."
The threshold for overturning the results of an election ought to be exceedingly high, Hamilton argued on Day 4 of the robocalls court challenge.
Otherwise, Canadian courts would be inundated with a deluge of legal challenges after future contests, he said.
"Counting the votes on election night cannot simply mean that just decided who will be the applicant and who will be the respondents, because election night really means something," Hamilton said.
"That's when electors get to see how the exercise of their franchise has turned out."
Even if there were dirty tricks, such as harassing and misleading phone calls alleged to have been made during the 2011 campaign, those people determined to vote would have found a way to cast their ballots, he said.
"There is a fundamental disrespect right now for the intuitiveness of the Canadian voter," Hamilton said.
"The Canadian electorate is very intuitive and they are very careful. They take their franchise seriously and that is why, happily, some of these ham-fisted attempts at suppression don't work.
"I think we can have ultimate faith in the electorate that those that wish to exercise their franchise will come forward and do so, even those that get frustrated and dissuaded to another part of town."
Eight Canadians — bankrolled by the left-leaning Council of Canadians — have launched a legal bid to overturn the results of the last federal election in six ridings. They allege a far-reaching campaign of voter-suppression tactics may have kept some people from voting, which may have had some bearing on the outcomes.
None of the eight applicants were actually prevented from voting.
The hearing resumes Friday.
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John Patrick Stanley