A Brief History of Democracy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First-Past-The-Post Discrimination Against Women To Be Challenged at Trial

Peter Rosenthal, the lawyer representing Elizabeth May in the Quebec Voting System Charter Challenge set to be heard at the Quebec Court of Appeal, will be bringing forth a new argument in the case. In short, he will argue that First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) discriminates against women since they are in general under represented in countries that use our voting system.

It will be interesting to see how the Court responds to his argument. The cited discrimination is well known and supported by the evidence submitted by the Crown's expert witness.

This argument will counter the lower court's dismissal of the plaintiff's claim that FPTP discriminates against the Anglophone and Allophone population. For example, in Quebec those ridings whet Anglophones and Allophones make up more than 20% of the electorate have on average 7% less voting power than the provincial average. As well, because of the wasted vote phenomenon playing out in these ridings, the participation rates in these voting districts is 13% lower than the provincial average.

In the lower court's decision, the presiding judge found that discrimination on a linguistic basis is not protected by Section 15 of the Charter.

However, this cannot be said of discrimination on the basis of gender, which is protected by Section 15 equality guarantees.

The case goes to trial on Feb. 8, 2011 at the Quebec Appeal Court of Appeal in Montreal. Of note, the Appeal Court rejected the Crown's request for a delay due to the possibility that the province's crown attorneys are set to go on strike.

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