News Canada

Elections Canada has 1,400 complaints about 'improper' campaign calls

Kristy Kirkup, Parliamentary Bureau
(Tim Peckham/QMI Agency Files)

(Tim Peckham/QMI Agency Files)

OTTAWA - Elections Canada has received complaints about "alleged improper telephone calls" from more than 75% of federal ridings since the 2011 election.

By August, the federal agency tasked with overseeing elections received 1,394 complaints regarding 234 of 308 electoral districts, according to court documents filed by the commissioner of Elections Canada.

"The commissioner's investigation is ongoing," John Laskin, a representative for the office, said in the documents.

The volume of phone call complaints received by Elections Canada has ballooned since the office originally received 70 complaints "alleging forms of improper telephone communications" during or shortly after the May 2011 election.

About nine months after Canadians hits the polls, the agency received more than 800 grievances after robocall media reports surfaced and the Liberal Party of Canada, the Council of Canadians and the CBC solicited voter complaints.

"Recent media reports on details of the subsequent investigation resulted not only in sustained media coverage but also in a large number of people communicating with Elections Canada," Chief Electoral Officer Marc Maynard told a parliamentary committee in March.

"Since then, close to 40,000 people have contacted my office to express their concern. Of these contacts, over 800 were complaints alleging specific occurrences of improper or fraudulent calls across the country."

The Council of Canadians, a self-identifying "social justice" advocacy organization, says many people did not immediately think to probe strange phone calls received during the election campaign.

The organization is currently footing the legal bill for seven individual court battles which are designed to contest the electoral outcomes in ridings where suspicious phone calls may have occurred.

"These are not the Council of Canadians' legal actions. These are the legal actions of individual Canadians under the Canada Elections Act that we are fully supporting," executive director Garry Neil said.

Elections Canada recently rejected the organization's request for additional information about the federal agency's probe into suspicious election phone calls.

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