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Figueroa v Canada (Attorney General), [2003] 1 S.C.R. 912

Facts:

Appeal raises question as to the purpose and meaning to be given to s.3 of the Charter. Does the requirement of political parties having at least 50 candidates, in the total of 308 ridings, violate s.3?

Issue(s):

So ss. 24(2), 24(3) AND 28(2) of the Elections Act infringe on s.3 of the Charter by withholding candidates who failed to meet the 50-candidate threshold the right to issue tax receipts, transfer unspent election funds to the party, and the right to list their party affiliation on the ballots paper? And if so if the infringement is justified under s.1 of the Charter?

Does that 50-Candidate threshold interfere with the capacity of individual citizens to play a meaningful role in the electoral process?

Ratio:

The purpose of s.3 is the preservation of the right of each citizen to play a meaningful role in the electoral process.
**Right to effective representation

Analysis:

In order to determine the scope of s.3, the court must first ascertain its purpose.
Broad and purposive approach
**Purpose of s.3 is effective representation (Saskatchewan Reference).

Democratic rights in s.3 ensure that each citizen has an opportunity to express an opinion about the formation of social policy and the functioning of public institutions through participation in the electoral process.

No reason to think that political parties that have not satisfied the 50-candidate threshold do not act as an effective outlet for the meaningful participation of individual citizens in the electoral process
**No correlation between the capacity of a political party to offer the electorate a government option and the capacity of a political party to formulate a unique policy platform for presentation to the general public.

50-Candidate threshold undermines the capacity of individual citizens to influence policy by introducing ideas and opinions into public discourse, and the capacity of individuals right to vote in the manner that reflects their preferences.

Holding:

Members and supporters of political parties that nominate candidates in fewer then 50 electoral districts do play a meaningful role in the electoral process.

The requirement does violate s.3 of the Charter and the government has failed to justify it by s.1


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