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article imageCouncil of Canadians plans lawsuit in robocall scandal

By Arthur Weinreb     Mar 2, 2012 in Politics
Together with investigations by Elections Canada and calls for a public inquiry, the council is seeking complainants in order to initiate legal action against those who purportedly tried to discourage voters from exercising their franchise.
Yesterday, the Council of Canadians held a press conference to announce they are seeking Canadians who think they were on the receiving end of misleading election telephone calls and other dirty tricks to come forward. The organization said it is willing to commence legal action to defend democracy in Canada.
Gary Neil, the Executive Director of the Council of Canadians said, We are deeply concerned about the recent media reports that many voters were misled, harassed or otherwise subjected to dirty tricks that may have impaired their ability to freely cast their ballots. While we applaud the fact that all parties are urging Elections Canada to investigate these serious allegations, we believe the victims are the electors. We intend to find out from them the full extent of the nefarious campaigns.
Elections Canada began investigating what is now being referred to as the "robocall scandal" in November after numerous complaints were made to the agency by voters in a Guelph, Ontario riding. The complainants, supporters of the Liberal Party, claimed they received telephone calls purportedly from the Liberal campaign telling them their polling stations had been moved. This allegedly caused some people who intended to vote not to do so.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been left red-faced after an attempt to blame the Liberal party fo...
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been left red-faced after an attempt to blame the Liberal party for suspicious robocalls from a U.S. call centre backfired
File photo
In addition to the Guelph riding, the National Post is reporting another riding, this one in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is being investigated as well.
The investigation into the telephone calls did not become public until the National Post reported it on Feb. 22. Since that date, opposition MPs have been inundated with complaints from their constituents claiming they too were subjected to dirty tricks. But Elections Canada will not conduct an investigation simply because what was done is looked upon as being a dirty trick.
Former Liberal MP Joe Volpe, who lost his Toronto riding last May, also made a complaint to Elections Canada. He complained that calls were made to his supporters by people falsely claiming to be with his campaign. Calls to Jewish voters were made on the Sabbath, while some calls were made late at night and the caller was often rude.
As reported in The Province, Elections Canada closed his complaint without taking action. An email sent to Volpe said in part, The act does not prohibit or regulate the use of telephone solicitations for a particular candidate or party, or the content of a call unless actual intimidation or false pretenses can be shown.
That response was proof that Elections Canada is not the best way to get to the bottom of the dirty tricks. It is difficult to see how someone who represents themselves as calling on behalf of the Liberal Party when they are not, is not a "false pretense."
It is in this light that calls are made for potential plaintiffs in lawsuits and demands that a public inquiry be held.
More about council of canadians, robocall scandal, Elections canada, 2011 federal election canada
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