OTTAWA (CN) – Two weeks before Canadians go to the polls, an activist group has sued the Prime Minister of Canada and the Governor General for calling an election before the legislatively fixed date. Democracy Watch claims Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the election illegally because an act passed by Harper’s own government set the election for Oct. 19, 2009, unless there was a vote of no-confidence in the House of Commons.
That legislation, plaintiff Duff Conacher claims, “limited the circumstances in which the Prime Minister could advise the Governor General to dissolve Parliament.”
Harper called the election after claiming that parliamentary business was paralyzed, thanks in large part to his own Conservative MPs who stalled or walked out of committee meetings.
Harper’s party has been election-ready for several months, but his minority government never fell as anticipated.
Canadians go to the polls Oct. 14 to elect the country’s 40th Parliament, with Stephane Dion’s Liberal Party, Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party, Elizabeth May’s Green Party and Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Quebecois trying keep a majority government out of Harper’s reach.
Conacher, the head of Democracy Watch, claims that calling the snap-vote gives Harper’s Conservative Party an unfair advantage because the public and prospective candidates were given little notice, and “as a result, members of the public who intended to be candidates, volunteers and/or voters are hindered in terms of participation in the election,” the application states.
Conacher is represented by Peter Rosenthal with Roach, Schwartz & Associates.