By The Canadian Press - Friday, May 24, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Fraud was definitely a factor in the rash of misleading robocalls that…
OTTAWA – Fraud was definitely a factor in the rash of misleading robocalls that bedevilled voters in six federal ridings in the 2011 election, but not enough of one to justify overturning the results, a Federal Court judge has decided.
The ruling, released late Thursday, left both sides in the dispute — the Conservative party in one corner, the voters who fielded the calls in the other — claiming victory of a sort.
Though fraud was at play as a result of the robocalls, the scale didn’t justify wiping out the results of voting, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley concluded.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 1:17 PM - 0 Comments
Thirteen months after agreeing to table such legislation within six months, the Harper government promised yesterday that tomorrow it would table electoral reform legislation that it didn’t review with the chief electoral officer, but the Globe now reports that the legislation will be further delayed because Conservative MPs want parts of the bill rewritten.
Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal has issued the following “urgent” statement.
“In our desire to rapidly incorporate recent recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer, we discovered a last minute issue in the proposed Elections Reform Act. Therefore, we are postponing the introduction of legislation. We will take the time necessary to get the legislation right.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 4:54 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Harper government will introduce electoral reform legislation on Thursday.
OTTAWA – The Harper government will introduce electoral reform legislation on Thursday.
Tim Uppal, the minister of state for democratic reform, said the bill will address concerns raised before a Commons committee by Marc Mayrand, the chief electoral officer.
“Our government will introduce comprehensive elections reform proposals to increase accountability, accessibility and integrity to Canada’s elections system,” Uppal told the Commons on Tuesday.
The long-awaited legislation is intended to address problems arising from the robocalls scandal.
Mayrand has warned there could be another wave of false or misleading telephone calls in the next election if tough new rules and punishments are not in place by the end of next year.
An Elections Canada report last month offered a number of ideas aimed at preventing another rash of so-called robocalls in future campaigns.
They included penalties for impersonating election officials, wider investigative powers for elections officials and increased voter privacy.
Mayrand’s office is still investigating fraudulent robocalls reported by complainants living in dozens of ridings across the country.
The agency’s investigation has focused on the southwestern Ontario riding of Guelph, where a number of residents say they received automated phone calls from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada and directing them to a wrong or non-existent polling station.
While the phone calls appeared to target non-Conservative voters, the Conservative party insists it had no involvement in any such scheme and says it is assisting the investigation.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 5:12 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A junior Conservative campaign worker in Guelph, Ont., has been charged under…
OTTAWA – A junior Conservative campaign worker in Guelph, Ont., has been charged under the Elections Act for fraudulent robocalls made during the 2011 election campaign.
The charge was confirmed by the lawyer for Michael Sona, a young employee on the campaign of local Conservative candidate Marty Burke.
Elections Canada has been investigating hundreds of fraudulent robocalls in Guelph and dozens of other ridings across Canada that purported to be from the elections regulator.
Voters were told their polling stations had been moved, part of an alleged scam to suppress the vote. The fraudulent calls appeared to target identified non-Conservative voters.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
GATINEAU, Que. – Canada’s telecommunications regulator has fined two companies over their telemarketing practices….
GATINEAU, Que. – Canada’s telecommunications regulator has fined two companies over their telemarketing practices.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance and Quick Connect Solutions both failed to get the consent of people they robocalled to promote their services.
The regulator’s rules bar companies from using auto-diallers without the permission of the people being called.
The CRTC fined Ontario Consumer Credit Assistance $69,000 and Quick Connect Solutions $11,000.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 1:11 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The chief electoral officer is warning of another wave of false or…
OTTAWA – The chief electoral officer is warning of another wave of false or misleading telephone calls in the next election if tough new rules and punishments are not in place by the end of next year.
“Given the time it takes for the parliamentary process to follow its due course, we need to act sooner than later on these matters,” Marc Mayrand said Thursday.
“My preference would be to have legislation in place by the end of 2014.”
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 4:13 PM - 0 Comments
On Wednesday after Question Period, Elections Canada tabled its report on robocalls. More of…
On Wednesday after Question Period, Elections Canada tabled its report on robocalls. More of our continuing coverage on the story here.
Here’s the report, for those who like to read straight from the source:
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 8:25 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making no apologies for his party’s use…
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making no apologies for his party’s use of deceptive robocalls to rally public opinion against proposed changes to riding boundaries in Saskatchewan.
Harper insisted Wednesday there was nothing wrong with the automated calls last week, which warned listeners that the changes would “destroy Saskatchewan values” and pit rural folk against urban dwellers — all without identifying that the caller was the Conservative party.
What’s more, he said the party’s message simply echoed the majority view in Saskatchewan, where 75 per cent who submitted opinions to the independent boundary commission were opposed to the proposed changes.
“The party followed the rules and our position to the public is very clear on the commission,” Harper said.
By John Geddes - Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
How many senators did Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoint in 2012? How many years does the government allow, in its latest plan, for “development and acquisition” of F-35 fighter jets? How many premiers, provincial and territorial, attended the November economic summit in Halifax? (Hint: Saskatchewan’s just phoned in.)
In all cases, the answer is an even dozen. But for our purposes here—in this third annual installment of a year-capping look back—we’re interested in 12 only as the number of months in the calendar. Select just a single story for each, and 2012 might almost begin to show some semblance of coherence.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Rude calls, calls in the middle of the night, swearing and even…
OTTAWA – Rude calls, calls in the middle of the night, swearing and even a mysterious message from North Dakota are among the robocall stories collected from 56 ridings by Elections Canada investigators.
The details of the calls were included in documents filed in Federal Court this week as part of a continuing investigation into misleading calls made during the 2011 federal election.
The calls were both recorded and live. Sometimes the caller claimed to be from Elections Canada or from one of the parties and would direct the voter to an erroneous or non-existent polling station. The investigators said they believed some of the calls were designed to make an individual not for a certain candidate.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher review the latest numbers from Elections Canada.
Dickson writes that Elections Canada has received 1,147 complaints of inappropriate calls, in 247 ridings, including 252 complaints from Guelph, where the “Pierre Poutine” robocall send hundreds of voters to the wrong polling station. Dickson notes the calls in Guelph are the subject of an investigation that is “separate, but related” to his own.
A total of 1,043 complaints are from voters who say they were directed to a wrong polling station by callers, 625 of them from live or recorded callers “claiming to emanate from Elections Canada.” Elections Canada does not call voters to tell them their polling stations have moved. The other calls are rude or harassing calls from people identifying themselves as Liberals or New Democrats, calling at odd hours, swearing or rudely demanding donations.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:08 PM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada released a discussion paper this week that explained the challenges of cracking down on robocall fraud and harassment.
In addition to the Guelph calls, the paper acknowledges for the first time that Elections Canada has received complaints of harassing live telephone calls at odd hours from the U.S. These are described as “numerous, repetitive, annoying or sometimes aggressive live or automated calls, as well as calls made late at night, on a religious holiday or from American area codes, purportedly from candidates whose campaigns have subsequently often denied making the calls.”
Such deceptive calls appear to be prohibited by Elections Act clauses that forbid preventing voters from casting their ballots, but the structure of the law makes it difficult to enforce, the agency reports. Even though the penalties for the breaking the elections law are light, investigators must follow the more onerous procedures required in criminal investigations. This creates “a significant imbalance between these lengthy and cumbersome procedures and the small fines that may be imposed as a result of a guilty finding, thus limiting the deterrent effect of such a finding.”
The full report is here.
By admin - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
Allegations are widespread, but investigation into the robocalls scandal is narrower
Court documents made public Monday show investigators at Elections Canada are not investigating the robocalls affair nationally, the National Post reports. Although spokespersons from Elections Canada have told the public that they are making a full investigation into reports of fraudulent and deceptive calls across Canada during the 2011 election, they have not sought phone or Internet records for any calls beyond Guelph, Ont.
While Guelph has been the epicenter of news from the robocalls scandal, Elections Canada has received complaints from over 200 ridings across the country. The documents give no indication of any investigation beyond the hunt for the “Pierre Poutine” suspect behind fraudulent robocalls made to non-Conservative voters in Guelph in 2011.
Elections Canada has reported that it received 1,394 complaints about alleged misleading robocalls in 234 ridings. Voters in seven ridings are to have election results overturned. In Nipissing-Timiskaming, where Conservative Jay Aspin defeated Liberal incumbent Anthony Rota by 18 votes, a call centre worker signed an affidavit which said that she was instructed to give people polling station locations that she came to believe were false.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, August 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
“I accept the findings of the CRTC regarding the election call placed by my campaign designed to educate Guelph voters about specific policy differences between myself and an opponent. We were unaware of certain requirements and inadvertently neglected to include some identifying features in the message, such as a phone number and address. When I first learned of the errors in the call earlier this year, I was fully and immediately cooperative with the CRTC; I take full responsibility and apologize for the infringement.
“This has been an important learning experience, not just for me, but for all MPs and future candidates. Consequently, I have volunteered to do whatever I can to assist the CRTC to educate MPs, candidates and their staff to the full extent of regulations governing calls and the use of auto-dialers. It is important for these types of investigations to take place regularly to ensure that Canadians are aware of our rules and that they are respected.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 4:49 PM - 0 Comments
The number of complaints about fraudulent or misleading telephone calls in last year’s federal election has almost doubled, according to court documents filed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
By Bruce Cheadle
OTTAWA — The number of complaints about fraudulent or misleading telephone calls in last year’s federal election has almost doubled, according to court documents filed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
By mid August, Elections Canada had received 1,394 complaints “alleging specific occurrences” in 234 of Canada’s 308 federal ridings, the lawyer for the elections watchdog says.
That’s up from the more than 700 specific complaints that the commissioner’s office publicly reported in March to clear the air after an online campaign attracted 30,000-plus expressions of concern by Canadians.
But the elections commissioner, in his latest court offering, declined to respond to a number of other disclosure requests by advocacy group the Council of Canadians.
“Like all law enforcement agencies, the Office of the Commissioner treats complaints and the office’s ongoing investigations in confidence and discloses neither the information collected nor the source of the information, except as necessary for law enforcement purposes,” wrote John Laskin, representing the commissioner’s office.
The letter goes on to “emphasize” that the total number of complaints and ridings “does not provide any indication of whether complaints are … substantiated, or whether complainants reported their voting behaviour to have been affected.”
Allegations of fraudulent and misleading phone calls designed to suppress the vote of targeted constituents during the May 2, 2011, election are currently being investigated by the commissioner’s office.
Marc Mayrand, the former elections commissioner who retired in June, said this spring that the investigation “touches on the fundamentals of our democracy, how we elect our representatives. I can’t see anything more serious than that in our democratic institutions.”
The investigation has centred on Guelph, Ont., where a number of residents say they received automated phone calls from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada and directing them to a wrong or non-existent polling station.
While the misleading phone calls appeared to target non-Conservative voters, the Conservative party insists it had no involvement in any such scheme and says it is assisting the investigation.
The Council of Canadians, a nationalist, left-leaning advocacy organization, is leading a parallel court battle to contest the election results in seven closely-fought ridings, arguing that misleading calls to voters may have skewed the outcome.
The group wanted specific information from Elections Canada on the location and nature of robocall complaints, and how many separate investigations are underway, in order to bolster its case.
New elections commissioner Yves Cotes submitted a lengthy certificate to the Federal Court dated Aug. 17, declining to release much of the requested information.
Cote cited four main reasons for his non-disclosure:
- Protecting the integrity of an ongoing investigation.
- Maintaining public confidence in the fairness of the electoral process and enforcement of the elections rules.
- Protecting the presumption of innocence.
- Ensuring the commissioner remains impartial and non-partisan, and is perceived as such by the public.
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 9:14 AM - 0 Comments
The Federal Court will see the challenge to results of several close ridings from…
The Federal Court will see the challenge to results of several close ridings from the 2011 election, despite the Conservative party’s attempt to block the review. The CBC reports a group of voters, with backing from the Council of Canadians, want results in ridings affected by the robocall scandal to be overturned. In these areas, many citizens complained of receiving misleading phone calls directing them to other polling stations.
The Conservatives requested last month that the application for review be thrown out, claiming it was unsubstantiated and filed too late, writes the National Post. The Conservative Party won all seven seats in the ridings in question. Federal Court Justice Martha Milczynski said in her ruling that applications to dismiss the election results raise concerns over the integrity of the democratic process.
Overturning the results would force a by-election in each riding.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 5:44 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. “Mr. Speaker,” Liberal MP Scott Andrews declared, “there is no more denying the facts.”
Apparently fun time was over. Our reckoning, or at least someone’s reckoning, was at hand.
“The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is under active and serious investigations by Elections Canada for election fraud,” Mr. Andrews reported. “How can the Conservative member for Peterborough conduct himself as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and hold his position on the ethics committee while he is being investigated for breaking the rules at Elections Canada?”
This was not quite Mr. Andrews’ question.
“My question is to the member for Peterborough,” he continued, seeming concerned that the member for Peterborough be the one to respond. “Why does he not do the honourable thing, step aside as the Prime Minister’s private parliamentary secretary and step aside from the ethics committee while he is under active investigation?”
Duly, Dean Del Mastro did stand to speak both for himself and of himself. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil joked the Tories let his group off relatively lightly. “Unlike the epithets thrown at their political opponents, we aren’t being accused of being Nazi sympathizers, or terrorists, or being on the side of the child pornographers,” he said.
By Gustavo Vieira - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada investigators believe the same IP address used to send misleading robocalls to…
Elections Canada investigators believe the same IP address used to send misleading robocalls to voters in Guelph, Ont., was used by the deputy campaign manager of Conservative candidate Marty Burke.
According to the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen, documents filed in court by Allan Mathews, the main Elections Canada investigator in charge of the investigation, show that the fraudster behind the “Pierre Poutine” alias used the same IP address as the one used to order legitimate calls from the Guelph Tory candidate’s campaign. An IP number is akin to a telephone number assigned to computers on the Internet.
Mathews, however, does not directly accuse the Tory campaign staffer implicated, Andrew Prescott, of actually placing the calls.
According to previous court filings, the “Pierre Poutine” alias had been used as a fake name to register a cell phone to set up a scheme of dialing voters of other parties to mislead them to the wrong polling stations on election day.
From the CBC:
Prescott had an account with Racknine, a company that does robocalling, or voice broadcasting, and which was used by “Pierre Poutine” to make the false calls.
Prescott’s account was used to make legitimate calls on behalf of the campaign of Conservative candidate Marty Burke.
Mathews found that both Prescott and “Pierre Poutine” used the same two IP addresses when logging into their accounts with Racknine. On May 2, 2011 — election day — both clients “accessed Racknine within four minutes of each other,” using the same IP address, Mathews says in the court document.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
As part of its challenge to the election results in seven ridings, the Council of Canadians asked Ekos to study the experiences of individuals in those ridings. Ekos surveyed respondents in the seven ridings and then compared those responses to a survey of Canadians residing elsewhere. The full report from Ekos is here.
This study has presented evidence which strongly suggests that in the subject ridings there was a targeted program of voter suppression in place. It was reported to be administered to tens of thousands of electors based on these samples … If these responses were the constructions of disgruntled non-Conservative voters, one cannot explain why the targeting effects were not present in the comparison group.
Exposure to these calls clearly had a dampening effect on the propensity of non-Conservative supporters to vote. Using different methods, we would estimate the effect in the range of 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
As part of its challenge to the election results in seven ridings, the Council of Canadians has obtained (and now released) an affidavit from Annette Desgagne, a call centre worker with Responsive Marketing Group in Thunder Bay.
About 3 days before election day, the script changed in a manner that was noticeable to me. When a new script was being implemented, we would have to specifically log off and log back into the system. This time, the scripts we were to read to the listeners concerned changes to the locations of their polling stations. The new scripts we were to read did not identify that we were calling on behalf of the Conservative Party nor did we mention the local Conservative candidate…
I started to become concerned about the Change of Address Calls, because several listeners with whom I spoke, questioned me about the new polling location I was providing. For example, I recall one woman in Winnipeg telling me that the address I just gave her was over an hour away. I tried to problem solve this over the phone with her for a few minutes, but she was sure the new address was wrong. There was a phone number at the bottom of the screen in front of me that I was to give people if they had further questions. That lady said she had called that number but that it was not a correct number.
Elections Canada specifically asked all political parties to refrain from calling voters about changes to polling station locations. But Ms. Desgagne says she recalls calling voters in Nipissing-Timiskaming, where apparently no changes were made.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 4:42 PM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher uncover a new twist.
Nearly a year after the investigation began, the agency is trying to determine why database records provided by the party appear to be missing entries that could help identify who downloaded the phone numbers used to make fraudulent robocalls, according to a source familiar with the probe … The investigators have inquired about CIMS logs for one particular user in the party’s headquarters. The logs show blanks between this person’s CIMS logon and logoff on the day the Guelph data was accessed, according to the source.
Whatever this may or may not amount to—and let’s stress that there’s no proof here of really anything—the NDP has already issued a Watergate reference (see below).
Update 4:51pm. And below the NDP release, a statement from the Conservative Party.
By Richard Warnica - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada investigators have spread their robocall probe to Conservative Party headquarters, according to…
Elections Canada investigators have spread their robocall probe to Conservative Party headquarters, according to a story by Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher, the reporters who first broke news of the case.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Nearly a year after the investigation began, the agency is trying to determine why database records provided by the party appear to be missing entries that could help identify who downloaded the phone numbers used to make fraudulent robocalls, according to a source familiar with the probe.
Investigators also are inquiring about a phone call from Conservative headquarters, made the day before the election, to RackNine, the Edmonton voice-broadcasting company whose servers were used to send out the robocalls.
The party has consistently denied playing a part in the alleged robocall scheme, which is said to have involved fraudulent calls to non-Conservative supporters during last year’s federal election.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
Having previously clarified his remarks about Campaign Research and apologized for his statements about Responsive Marketing Group, Pat Martin convened reporters this morning to say sorry to RackNine.
I apologize for any damage my statements may have caused to Mr. Meier personally or to RackNine, and I have been specifically authorized by the NDP Party to apologize on behalf of the NDP Party for any similar damage the publications on the NDP website may have caused.