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.
Canada: Elections Canada probing spending records of Conservative campaign in robocall scandal | canada.com
Elections Canada investigators probing the robocalls scandal are interviewing workers on the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., and trying to determine why payments made to an Edmonton voice-broadcasting company were not declared in financial reports filed with the agency. In recent days, the agency has spoken to at least three workers from the campaign of Conservative candidate Marty Burke, including the official agent responsible for ensuring the campaign’s financial report was accurate. Elections Canada wants to know why the costs of automated calls the campaign has admitted sending out never appeared in the campaign’s expense report, as required by law. Andrew Prescott, the deputy campaign manager, said he is co-operating with the investigation and handing over bills he received from RackNine Inc. for a series of robocalls promoting Burke events during the election. The same company was used to transmit misleading Elections Canada calls on election day.
A probe into “robocalls” that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during last year’s election, won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories, is casting suspicion on the results. It is not yet clear who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in spring 2011 that reportedly led to a chaotic scene at a polling station, and likely led some to give up on voting. The opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted, pointed fingers at the Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a “smear campaign.” Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is now investigating the rogue calls, aided by the federal police, as new allegations are raised daily. At a press conference on Tuesday, outspoken New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin described the misleading pre-recorded calls claiming to be from Elections Canada as a “heinous affront to democracy.” “How is this different from a bunch of goons with clubs blocking the door to a voter station,” he said.