The man in charge of Elections Canada has broken his silence on the fraudulent robo-calls controversy, divulging that the agency has received 700 specific complaints about phony dialling from the 2011 ballot in the past three weeks. In his first statement on the matter, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand also strongly hinted Thursday that he would like to be called before a parliamentary committee so he can offer more detail about the allegations received. His office is already investigating what it has alleged in court filings is an operative connected to the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., one it believes used an alias “Pierre Poutine” and misleading robo-calls to try to suppress voting by supporters of rival parties. A senior Conservative government official said later Thursday that the Tories, who control House and Senate committees, are “amenable” to having Mr. Mayrand speak before MPs. The Commons, however, is rising for a spring break after March 16 and MPs won’t be sitting again until March 26.
Mr. Mayrand’s comments more tightly define the scope of the alleged problem with harassing or misleading calls in the 2011 election. On March 2, Elections Canada inadvertently sowed confusion when it announced it had received 31,000 “contacts” from Canadians on robo-calls – a number some misinterpreted as the number of specific grievances collected.
It was only earlier this week that Elections Canada began to clarify the nature of messages it had received, saying the majority of these were form letters expressing general concern on harassing or misleading calls to voters. Activist groups such as Leadnow.ca had set up websites to forward such letters to Elections Canada.