Elections Canada has extended its probe of phony election calls to include yet another Ontario riding as the watchdog agency launches an online complaint form to help field reports from concerned voters. Canadians who think “fraudulent calls interfered with their right to vote, or who have information about such calls” are being asked to pass along what they know to elections investigators, it says. Elections Canada has enlarged its “inquiry” centre to handle the high volume of phone calls and email traffic, agency spokesperson Diane Benson said. The agency has been flooded with reports from voters — 31,000 by last Friday — about harassing or misleading phone calls in the 2011 federal election.
The agency’s experience in quickly ramping up for a federal election is now being used to gear up for the growing investigation, Benson said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s that kind of experience we’re using now to respond.” She said Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections “have the capacity to expand and contract according to needs: electoral needs or investigative demands.” The move comes as elections investigators are asking questions about telephone calls steering voters to a fake polling station in the riding of Kingston and the Islands.
Ron Hartling, head of the Liberal riding association there, said voters got “aggressive, loud” calls from people claiming to be from the Liberal campaign in the weeks leading up to the vote. Then, in the days just before the vote, local voters got calls directing them to fake voting sites, Hartling said.