Wave of protest against electoral fraud kicks off Saturday in Vancouver

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VANCOUVER -- Hundreds of protesters will take to the streets in Vancouver this Saturday, March 3, to kick off a wave of protests across Canada in response to the widening 'robocall' electoral fraud scandal. The rallies will demand a full public inquiry and real consequences including possible new elections.

The protest will start this Saturday, 12 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery, proceeding through downtown to a rally at Victory Square (Cambie and Hastings) featuring representatives of civil society groups and opposition federal political parties.

"We need full, public and independent investigations in all of the affected ridings, real consequences for systematic election fraud that include new elections, and then a full public inquiry to restore the integrity of our democracy," said Jamie Biggar, Executive Director of Leadnow.ca. "So far, the government's response has been to downplay the revelations and try to contain and delay investigations. That is totally unacceptable, and so we are mobilizing to show that democracy matters to Canadians."

The Harper government has refused to call for a public inquiry, and yesterday the prime minister dismissed the entire affair as a "smear" by the opposition. Reports of irregularities and potential voter fraud using robocalls and other means have now been reported in over 50 ridings. Investigations by the RCMP and Elections Canada are ongoing.

Confirmed speakers at the Saturday include: Joyce Murray, MP (Liberal) for Vancouver Quadra; Libby Davies, MP (NDP) for Vancouver East; Adrian Carr, Deputy Leader of the Green Party; Jamie Biggar of Leadnow.ca; Judy Rebick, long time social justice activist and author; Irene Lanziger, Secretary-Treasury of the BC Federation of Labour; Dylan Rhymer, comedian and social justice activist; Sean Devlin, creator of ShitHarperDid.com; Derrick O'Keefe, author and co-chair StopWar Coalition. Vancouver comedian and writer Charlie Demers will MC.

"The sleazy attempt to mislead voters, disrupting the election, is shocking. We need a full public inquiry so that those responsible for these dirty tricks are held to account," said Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East. Davies' riding of Vancouver East is one of the ridings where this questionable practice was reported to Elections Canada officials after the May 2011 election.

"Canadians have been expressing their outrage and making an impact on the debate by using social media like Facebook and Twitter for the past week, and now it's time to come together in the streets," said Sarah Beuhler, one of the rally's organizers. "Elections Canada needs to have the power to investigate this matter fully and call new elections in every riding where these calls were placed."

"It doesn't matter whose fault it was -- the elections were tainted and Canadian democracy is in danger," Beuhler added. "We cannot let this stand." The Vancouver rally is the first of many expected across Canada, culminating in a national day of action on Sunday, March 11.

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