Democracy, not dollars, behind robocalls court challenge: lawyer
Members of parliament are set to debate a proposed overhaul of the Elections Act. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:05PM EST
OTTAWA -- A left-leaning advocacy group stands to gain nothing from a Federal Court case into allegations of voter-suppression tactics, other than to ensure that democracy is upheld, says a lawyer for eight voters challenging the results in six ridings.
Lawyer Steven Shrybman was responding to a Conservative party lawyer's claim that the Council of Canadians is using the robocalls court challenge to fill its coffers and score political points.
"They have nothing to gain from these proceedings, other than to recover the democratic franchise, which they believe was improperly taken from other electors in their ridings," Shrybman said Tuesday.
Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton has argued the robocalls case is frivolous, saying the eight applicants -- whose legal bills are being covered by the council -- are really just stand-ins for the council.
"There is a financial windfall to the Council of Canadians," Hamilton said Monday. "They are raising money with respect to this application."
The council said Tuesday its robocall fundraising has produced just over $300,000. But the group said its legal bills already come to $560,000 -- even with a 40 per cent discount from its lawyers -- and are expected to exceed $600,000.
The group also made a fresh appeal for donations Tuesday, saying it is trying to raise another $300,000.
Shrybman told judge Richard Mosley on the second of five days of scheduled hearings that the sole purpose of the court challenge is to protect democracy.
"We have only one purpose, and that is to recover the democratic franchise that, we argue, was taken from the electors in the ridings at issue as a consequence of the fraudulent activities which our evidence describes," he said.