The upcoming federal election will see tougher rules around the use of robocalls, but Canada’s chief electoral officer hopes greater public awareness will help stamp out improper use of automated calls and other political dirty tricks. Fraudulent robocalls to direct voters to the wrong polling station in the 2011 election in Guelph helped lead to new rules requiring political parties and service providers to register with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) before contacting voters. Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand said in an interview that Elections Canada will be watching closely for abuse of any robocalls on election day, set for Oct. 19 under the federal fixed election date law. But he said there are also other potential issues to watch for, including false Facebook and Twitter accounts and the risk of someone hacking into party or Elections Canada computer systems.
“You can’t stop everything of course. That’s why we need electors to be vigilant,” said Mayrand, who was in Calgary this week to meet with Alberta returning officers as part of election preparations.
“We will, as we have done in the past, intervene quickly to dispel any confusion that may exist with electors.”
Mayrand said he hopes the recent convictions of Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona in the robocalls case, and former Tory MP Dean Del Mastro for violation of spending and donation rules in the Election Act, demonstrates “it is very risky to resort on those tricks.”