Elections Law

Justice Quinn upholds costs protection for public interest litigants in municipal campaign financing case

January 23rd, 2014 by Laura Bowman

In Lancaster v. Compliance Audit Committee et al., 2013 ONSC 7631 (CanLII) Justice Quinn discussed in detail the principles that should apply to an award of costs against a public interest litigant.  In that case an appeal was brought regarding an audit committee decision not to investigate a campaign finance issue under the Municipal Elections Act.

The elector, Lancaster, made an audit complaint relating to the campaign finances of various individuals and when the audit committee under the Act ended the audit proceedings, appealed to the Ontario Court of Justice under s.81(6) of the Municipal Elections Act.  The Ontario Court of Justice dismissed the appeal.  The elector then appealed to the Superior Court of Justice, who dismissed the appeal again.

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Court rejects Conservative Party MPs’ attempt to block non-profit Council of Canadians from supporting public interest litigation

June 27th, 2013 by Paula Boutis

Amidst all the excitement around the Federal Court’s May 23, 2013 decision (pdf) in which the court held that “electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election,” the court was also asked to dismiss the applications outright on the basis of how the applicants were funding their legal bills.

This was one of many tactics employed by the respondent Members of Parliament (MPs) to derail the litigation and prevent it from ever being heard.

This issue around how the litigation was funded is of general importance in the context of public interest litigation. In public interest cases, the litigants, whether non-profits or individuals, have limited financial means to pursue the litigation. Funding public interest litigation only gets harder and harder, so it was refreshing to see a complete vindication of the funding of this case by the Council of Canadians.

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How conflict of interest rules affect the public interest

December 20th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

Since the RedfordKatz, Ford and other scandals of late, there has been much discussion about conflict of interest rules, what is and isn’t a conflict of interest, and whether there can be degrees of conflicts of interest. What should the legislative penalties be where a conflict is found?

Conflict of interest can be a difficult subject. Various provincial and federal statutes govern conflicts of interest. Roughly speaking, a conflict of interest for a public office holder is usually defined as the exercise of an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further private interests.

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Calling all candidates and Official Agents: what do to if you ran for federal office but your Official Agent failed to do your electoral campaign return on time?

October 19th, 2011 by Paula Boutis

With some regularity, our firm is called upon to assist federal candidates who ran for office, but for one reason or another, their Official Agent failed to file a return, or other required report, on time.  The federal Elections Act has procedures for extending the time to file, but if those are missed too, the only way to file after that is through a court order granting a nunc pro tunc (now for then) order.  That is the order for an act to be done (filing, in this case) after the time has expired.

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Let the Municipal Elections Act Games Begin

November 2nd, 2010 by Iler Campbell LLP

With the recent municipal elections concluded, we can expect a number of applications under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (MEA) to investigate alleged election campaign finance irregularities.  The Good Government Act, 2009 introduced amendments to the MEA, most of which became effective on January 1, 2010, to address some of the election campaign finance issues that have arisen during and in the aftermath of the 2003 and 2006 municipal elections.

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