Need for Democratic Renewal
Working to Renew the Electoral Process
In this election and the 2019 Federal Election, prospective candidates did not have to come up with a $1,000 deposit to register. Also, for the first time a witness to the nomination signatures for candidates did not have to appear at the Returning Office and candidates were able to obtain nomination signatures through emails and faxes.
This is thanks to Kieran Szuchewycz who launched a successful 2017 Charter Challenge after he was not able to have the witnesses to his nominations appear at the returning office in the 2015 federal election and the Returning Officer refused to process his nomination even though he had the signatures and his $1,000 deposit.
Thanks to his effort, the registration fee was ruled unconstitutional. The requirement for 100 nomination signatures was not struck down, but the court ruling led Elections Canada to alter the process to allow electronic signatures and the witness did not have to appear.
The Liberal Government argued in court that the deposit served to deter “frivolous” candidates. Presiding Alberta Justice Inglis countered: “many non-frivolous candidates might be prevented from participating due to limited financial means, and a frivolous candidate might easily be able to meet the deposit requirement.”
After the ruling, Kieran sent a letter to the parties without representation in the House of Commons, stating, “… [T]his wealth test, first introduced in the Dominions Elections Act of 1874, is now a thing of the past. No longer will candidates need to prove they have $1,000 dollars hanging around to exercise their Charter right to stand for election.” He expressed his hope that the dropping of the registration fee would enable more candidates to run and “provide the diversity of choice and vision our country desperately needs.”
“In a time when democracy appears to be receding,” he wrote, “and we feel we have no say in the direction of this country, small parties and small people must stand up for what they believe in and offer a fresh alternative to the well-connected careerists, dishonest politicians, and the wealthy elite who dominate the political establishment. I think you will agree that it is only through the increased political participation of ordinary Canadians that our political system can be reclaimed.”
Kieran continues to build opposition to Canada’s unfair and obsolete electoral law. In this election he is behind the project to have many candidates in the riding of St. Boniface–St. Vital (Winnipeg) provide an option to vote for electoral reform. To mobilize people to join in the action, Kieran offered to organize the nomination signature collection and is serving as the official agent for all fourteen candidates.