10/23/2012 04:01 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST

Etobicoke Centre Supreme Court Ruling Will Make History


OTTAWA - Canada's chief electoral officer says he's looking for guidance in Thursday's historic Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the validity of the result in a hotly disputed Toronto riding.

That's exactly what Marc Mayrand will get when Canada's highest court decides whether Conservative MP Ted Opitz legitimately won his seat in the riding of Etobicoke Centre in the May 2011 federal election.

Thursday's ruling will mark the first time the Supreme Court has weighed in on the validity of an election result in a federal riding.

It will set a precedent because it will likely set out clear rules on when the courts ought to involve themselves in reviewing tight election races — and when they should steer clear.

The ruling will determine whether Opitz keeps his seat or has to face a byelection against former Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj, whom he narrowly defeated by 26 votes.

Opitz is appealing a May ruling by an Ontario Superior Court judge that set aside his victory, after identifying procedural irregularities with 79 ballots.

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