Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
"As you know, we promised to look at some reforms to our election laws," Harper told reporters during a photo-op with Optiz outside the House of Commons. "But in this case, the important thing is it was the voters that made the decision and that's the way democracy is supposed to work."
The Supreme Court of Canada tossed out a lower court ruling that had voided the May 2, 2011, results in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre over a series of administrative errors made by Elections Canada officials.
In a 4-3 split decision, the Supreme Court ruled an Ontario Superior Court judge had made legal errors in disqualifying a number of votes in that riding.
Last election, Opitz beat out Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzesnewskyj by 26 votes. Wrzesnewskyj disputed the results in court and won the challenge, which Opitz then appealed at the Supreme Court.
Opitz thanked the court for "their very considered decision."
"Fifty-two thousand people voted and you can't disenfranchise 52,000 people because they all did the right thing and certainly there were some administrative errors on the part of Elections Canada officials, however the Supreme Court clearly agreed that wasn't sufficient to overturn the election."
For his part, Wrzesnewskyj said he didn't see this ruling as a personal defeat, but as victory for democracy.
"The next federal election in Canada will be run very differently." he said. "That means democracy wins, and that means every Canadian has won."
His lawyer, Gavin Tighe, called for reforms to the Canada Elections Act, which he argued allows for too much leeway and uncertainty.
"I think when you accept imperfection, and you don't strive for perfection, you set the bar a little low," he said.
Elections Canada had no comment on the ruling, but Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand told a House committee last May the agency has made it a priority to improve compliance with regulations on voting days.