rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Robocall guilty verdict doesn't close book on 2011 election fraud

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Image: Flickr/Abid Virani

The Ontario Superior Court ruled today that Michael Sona, the young Conservative aide, is guilty of participating in the robocall scheme.

But this verdict does not resolve the issues surrounding the widespread orchestrated electoral fraud in the 2011 election. This fraud took place not only in Guelph, but in 246 other federal ridings. The Council of Canadians, which supported legal challenges of election results in six ridings across the country, expects that its pending legal challenge of the "Fair" Elections Act will shed more light on what happened.

"The story is far from over," says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "We have a few clues about one minor player, but we still don't have the ringleaders. Remember: this didn't just happen in Guelph."

Fraudulent calls misdirected people to wrong or non-existent polling stations in dozens of ridings. In a landmark ruling in 2013, the Federal Court found that there had been a widespread campaign of electoral fraud that was targeted at non-Conservatives. Further, the court found that "the most likely source of the information used to make the misleading calls was the [Conservative Party of Canada's] CIMS database."

A Commissioner of Canada Elections investigation report on the 2011 election released in May of 2014 has been used to claim there was no widespread campaign of voter suppression. But that report has been shown to be "fatally flawed."

"Other higher-ranking Conservative Party officials were most likely involved," says Dylan Penner, the Council of Canadians' democracy campaigner. "The Conservatives have yet to reveal the list of people who had access to this database. Who are they protecting?"

For Barlow, it is time for the Harper government to come clean with Canadians.

"The Prime Minister still needs to answer some serious questions," adds Barlow. "Did someone close to the Prime Minister authorize the use of CIMS for voter suppression in the 2011 election? If not, who did? How can he ensure that this will not repeat itself?"

Meanwhile, the so-called "Fair" Elections Act, which became law in June, only compounds these unresolved issues. The law forbids Elections Canada from promoting voting and includes strict guidelines on proving residency to vote. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students will be challenging the "Fair" Elections Act in court for infringing the constitutional right of Canadians to vote.

"Techniques such as using large-scale robocalls or live calls to mislead or defraud electors were already difficult to detect during the last federal election," says Garry Neil, executive director of the Council of Canadians. "The new law will make it harder for the Chief Electoral Officer to report on complaints received from voters and thus it will be nearly impossible to detect these tactics. That is why we will be challenging it in court."

"While there are still far too many questions, the legal challenge of the 'Fair' Elections Act will hopefully bring us closer to finally getting some answers," concludes Barlow.

 

Image: Flickr/Abid Virani

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.