IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
IN THE MATTER OF THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS AND IN THE MATTER OF SECTION 19 AND SCHEDULE 1 OF THE CONSTITUTION ACT, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 62, AS AMENDED
JOHN DIXON, PETITIONER
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, RESPONDENTS
THIS IS THE PETITION of:
LET ALL PERSONS WHOSE INTERESTS MAY BE AFFECTED BY THE ORDERS SOUGHT TAKE NOTICE:
The Petitioner applies to this Honourable Court for:
1. An Order and Declaration that Section 19 and Schedule 1 of the Constitution Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 62, as amended, are null, void and of no force or effect in that they are inconsistent with and contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) and deny and infringe rights, liberties and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter by, among other reasons, contravening, denying or infringing:
a. the right to full and effective freedom of expression or equality of political expression as guaranteed by Section 2(b) of the Charter;
b. the right to a full, effective and equal vote in elections for members of the legislative assembly of the Province of British Columbia and equality of representation therein as guaranteed by Section 3 of the Charter;
c. the mobility rights guaranteed by Section 6 of the Charter;
d. the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof as guaranteed by Section 7 of the Charter; and
e. the right to equality before and under the law, the right to equal benefit of the law, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of place of residence, including the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of residing in an urban as opposed to a rural location or on the Mainland of British Columbia as opposed to Vancouver Island.
2. Such other remedy as this Honourable Court may deem meet, just and appropriate in all circumstances pursuant to Section 24 of the Charter, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, and the inherent jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, including:
a. an Order setting the time within which the Government shall enact legislation providing for a redistributing of provincial electoral boundaries conforming to the requirements of the Charter; and
b. in default of valid legislation being enacted, an Order setting the provincial electoral boundaries for the 69 electoral districts re4uired by Section 18 of the Constitution Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 62 as amended.
AND FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that on the hearing of this Petition shall be read the Affidavit of John Dixon, sworn the 29th day of January, 1986, a copy of which is served herewith~ Schedules A and B to this Petition, and such other and further material as counsel may advise.
THE FACTS UPON WHICH THIS PETITION IS BASED ARE AS FOLLOWS:
The Petitioner is:
a. A college instructor;
b. A Canadian citizen by birth;
c. A resident in British Columbia and has been a resident of British Columbia for his whole life;
d. As registered voter on the Voters List of the Province of British Columbia as a voter in the Vancouver;
e. The President of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, a Society incorporated under the laws of the Province of British Columbia for the purpose of advancing interest in and respect for civil rights, liberties and freedom; and
f. Actively and specially interested in civil libertarian issues and matters, including the issues raised in this proceeding relating, among other things, to equality, voting rights, political expression and the democratic process.
2. The Constitution Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 62 as amended provides for a review of electoral boundaries by an electoral commission constituted by Section 19.2, which commission is required by Section 19.3 to conduct a review of the electoral districts of the province from time to time as set out in Sections 19.3(1) and 19.4, and to recommend certain matters respecting the number of members to be returned by each of the electoral districts and, in certain circumstances, the division of Dual Member Electoral Districts into three new electoral districts.
3. The First Report of the British Columbia Electoral Commission (a copy of which is attached to this Petition as Schedule A) was made in or about September, 1984 and made certain recommendations concerning making the Delta, Richmond, Central Fraser Valley, Dewdney, Langley, Okanagan South, Boundary Similkimeen, Caribou, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Saanich and the Island Electoral Districts Dual Member Electoral Districts and concerning a division of the Surrey Dual Member Electoral District into three separate electoral districts.
4. The first report of the British Columbia Electoral Commission was laid before the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly accepted the recommendations of the Electoral Commission.
5. The Constitution Amendment Act, 1985, S.B.C. 1985, c. 3 enacted the said recommendations of the Electoral Commission and provided that the new electoral boundaries and the conversion of the aforementioned electoral districts from single member electoral districts to dual member electoral districts was to come into force “on the day on which the 33rd Legislative Assembly is dissolved”.
6. The said report of the Electoral Commission notes in Table A that the Electoral District of Atlin had 6,314 residents in the 1981 census, while the Electoral District of Vancouver Little Mountain had 81,591 residents, and the Electoral District of Coquitlam-Moody had 58.219 residents.
7. The Provincial Government conducted an enumeration of voters in or about the fall of 1985 and the number of voters enumerated in each electoral district is as set out in the Statistics Summary of the Chief Electoral Officer, a copy of which is attached to this Petition as Schedule B
8. The average number of voters enumerated per member of the Legislative Assembly to-be elected is 22,611, calculated as follows:
Enumerated voters = 1,560,174
divided by 69 members to be returned = 22,611
The highest number of voters per member of the Legislative Assembly to be elected is in the electoral district of Coquitlam-Moody, which district has 36,318 enumerated voters. The lowest number of voters is in the Electoral District of Atlin, which district has 2,460 enumerated voters.
9. The disparity between the number of voters per member of the Legislative Assembly to be returned in the various electoral districts infringes upon the freedom of expression of voters in electoral districts with more voters than the average in that their right to express their political views is accorded less weight than voters in electoral districts with less voters than the average.
10. The disparity between the number of voters per electoral district infringes upon the right of Canadian citizens and registered voters to vote by granting less representation and less effective representation in the legislative assembly of the Province of British Columbia to voters in the electoral districts with more voters than the average.
11. The disparity in number of voters per electoral district infringes upon the mobility rights of Canadian citizens and registered voters in the Province of British Columbia in that it provides for less representation or less effective representation or unequal representation of the said Canadian citizens and/or voters in electoral districts with more voters than the average when compared with electoral districts with less voters than the average, and therefore restricts the right of a Canadian citizen who is a voter to move to, and reside in, the electoral district of his or her choice.
12. The disparity between the number of voters per electoral district infringes upon the right of Canadian citizens and registered voters I the Province of British Columbia to liberty or security of the person by providing for less representation or less effective representation of the said Canadian citizens or registered voters in elections to the Legislative Assembly in the Province of British Columbia.
13. The disparity between the number of voters per electoral district infringes upon the right of Canadian citizens and registered voters to equal treatment before and under the law and equal benefit from the law and the right not to be discriminated against, particularly the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of place of residence, including residence in an urban as opposed to a rural are or residence on the mainland of British Columbia as opposed to Vancouver Island.
NOTICE TO PERSONS SERVED:
The Attorney General of British Columbia
The Attorney General of Canada