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Activists ask court to halt 'illegal' federal election

A federal judge could decide next week whether or not Canada is in the midst of an illegal federal election, but either way, it's likely too late to stop the show.

Democracy Watch has brought a case before the federal court, arguing that Stephen Harper violated the Canada Elections Act when he dissolved parliament on September 7 because there hadn't yet been a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Such a vote is required under Bill C-16 of the act, legislation that Harper himself pitched as a means of preventing prime ministers from calling snap elections.

Democracy Watch is in court in Ottawa tomorrow to request that the hearing be expedited. If it is, said the group's lawyer Peter Rosenthal, a judge could rule on the legality of the election call sometime next week.

Even if the ruling determines there was in fact a violation, Rosenthal said it's "quite unlikely" that it will affect the upcoming election.

Doug McArthur, a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University said while there is a very good case to be made, it's likely too late to make a difference.

"Given that we're over two weeks into the election campaign, I think a judge is going to be much more reluctant to issue an injunction stopping the election," McArthur said, adding that the consequences will likely be a "slap on the wrist" and clarification that this shouldn't happen again.

"I was astounded that no media, no academics, no organizations got out on this one," McArthur said when asked why no one addressed the issue earlier.

"But I don’t think you can expect political parties to move off their campaign and onto something that seems to technically obscure for media and others."

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