Following the May 2011 federal election which saw the Conservative Party of Canada secure a majority allegations surfaced of voters in dozens of ridings across Canada having received automated phone messages that were purportedly from (i) Elections Canada, and provided misleading information about a shift in the location of their polling station or (ii) rival parties in the election like the Liberals and NDP, and that could be characterized as being harassing or disrespectful in tone.
In both instances, the so-called robocalls were targeted at voters who previously had been identified by Conservative pollsters as not being supporters of their party.
Once the complaints, which have since grown to around 1400 in 56 federal ridings, began trickling in, Elections Canada launched an investigation. As I observed in previous posts on this matter, you’d pretty well have to be a cross between Bill Gates and Machiavelli to comprehend all the nuances that were involved with disposable cell phones and e-mails routed through dummy accounts and off-shore service providers that were pretty much impossible to trace. But plenty of evidence has been uncovered that suggests electoral improprieties did occur.
With the support of the Council of Canadians, eight voters from six ridings where the Conservative margin of victory was particularly tight have launched an action in Federal Court arguing that results should be over-turned. The ridings are: Nipissing—Timiskaming in Ontario; Elmwood—Transcona and Winnipeg South Centre in Manitoba; Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar in Saskatchewan; Vancouver Island North in B.C., and Yukon.
Today in an Ottawa courtroom, opening arguments were heard in the case, with the lead lawyer for the Conservatives, Arthur Hamilton, arguing that the Harper government was the victim of a malicious smear campaign by the left-wing Council of Canadians — or words to that effect. Counter arguments will be heard in the days to come.
Read more in this Toronto Star report