Make of this what you will: Faced with an unprecedented number of allegations of electoral fraud in the 2011 election – more than 1,400 complaints from more than 200 ridings – Elections Canada has responded by hiring not a single extra investigator to track down the culprits. The agency had nine investigators last year. It still has nine, spokesman John Enright confirmed, although it plans to add two entry-level investigators in coming months. It faces no budgetary restrictions for hiring in such a probe. It could employ 100 extra investigators if it wished.
Does this leave the impression that it’s failing to pursue the scandal vigorously enough? Not at all, according to Mr. Enright. He said the current resources, supplemented by some outside police work, have been sufficient.
The Elections Canada probe is one avenue of inquiry in the vote suppression case. A second is journalistic enterprise. A third is the court case that opened Monday in Ottawa. Voters from six ridings, backed by the Council of Canadians, are asking a Federal Court judge to overturn the election results in their constituencies, alleging that misleading Conservative phone calls tried to prevent Canadians from voting.
But don’t hold your breath on this one. The bid is a long shot for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the case is proceeding before the results of Elections Canada’s investigation (which could provide key evidence) are in. The lawyer for the applicants, Steven Shrybman, has received some help from the agency in the form of documents detailing allegations from voters in many ridings. But asking for election results to be overturned is an extraordinarily ambitious undertaking. The Supreme Court recently rejected a bid to have a result in Etobicoke Centre thrown out, setting a very high bar in so doing for anyone trying it.