Monday, June 18, 2012

Will Joe Volpe follow in Borys Wrzesnewskyj's footsteps in Eglington-Lawrence?

Former Etobocoke-Centre Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj has won headlines for his legal challenge to force a by-election due to election irregularities, and it appears another former Liberal MP, Joe Volpe, may be considering following suit.

Wrzesnewskyj won an Ontario Superior Court ruling ordering a new election in the riding after irregularities that put the narrow victory of Conservative Ted Opitz in doubt. The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hear Opitz's appeal in a rare summer sitting next month, but I'm told his appeal has raised little in the way of new arguments or specific faults with the lower court judgement.

Across town in Eglington-Lawrence, former Liberal MP Joe Volpe's loss was a fair bit wider than Wrzesnewskyj's, finishing over 4,000 votes behind Conservative Joe Oliver. But in a recent e-mail to Liberals, Volpe indicated he is also investigating alleged irregularities with the results.

...during the election, our campaign in Eglinton-Lawrence was the first to raise the warning flags associated will illegal suppression tactics: misleading, harassing phone calls; thousands of instant voters registered with bogus info; robocalls; and abusive scrutineers who turned away elderly voters at polling stations. Elections Canada has been slow to address the issues we raised more than a year ago.
Our riding association is exhausting its resources to investigate and find answers. To help, we have set up a fund to continue that effort, and I ask for your consideration in making a contribution to the riding association to assist in that effort. 

It's not entirely clear to me if these efforts are expected to lead to a legal challenge or what form the investigation or a challenge may take. It may just be a cleverly worded riding association fundraising pitch. I've heard concerns raised in a number of Toronto-area ridings about the conduct of the last election and while Wrzesnewskyj lost by 26 votes, Volpe would have a far harder road ahead of him. A by-election seems highly unlikely, but certainly any possible improprieties deserve to be investigated and the situation in Eglington-Lawrence will bear watching.

Oh, and for those advocating for high spending limits in the upcoming Liberal leadership race, Volpe's e-mail also included a separate request for donations to help retire his leadership debt. From 2006.

P.S. In this video I shot last week at his nomination meeting, Wrzesnewskyj discusses his legal challenge and why the probably upcoming by-election is so important.

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