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NEWS: Council of Canadians urges action against electoral fraud

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”2030″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image alignright size-medium wp-image-13850″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”240″,”height”:”195″,”title”:”shrybman-neil-robocall”,”alt”:””}}]]Postmedia News reports, “The Council of Canadians is urging individuals with evidence of dirty tricks in the past federal election to join the group’s legal push to have results thrown out in ridings most affected by misleading robocalls. Garry Neil, executive director of the Council of Canadians, said individual Canadians have the legal right to take action against electoral fraud, and that the council will provide the tools and the support needed to exercise these rights to the fullest.”

On-line questionnaire
“‘We are seeking out electors who believe that fundamentally their democratic rights have been violated,’ he said. ‘We invite Canadians who have knowledge of, and were affected by any of these dirty tricks, to contact us immediately.’ …Neil said the council will distribute a questionnaire to ‘a significant number of Canadians in each of the affected ridings,’ focusing on 20 ridings where poll margins were close, such Guelph, Thunder Bay and Windsor, Ont. The questionnaire — now on the council’s website, http://canadians.org/index.html — asks respondents if they received suspicious calls, if they have ‘evidence of corruption, irregularities or fraud’ and whether they are willing to submit a sworn affidavit to the courts.”

Act quickly
“The council urged Canadians to act quickly, saying they have less than one month to file their action with the courts. Under electoral rules, the council’s lawyer said, applications must be made within 30 days of the public becoming aware of the robocall scandal. A special Postmedia News and Ottawa Citizen investigation first broke the story on Feb 22. The law instructs courts to act quickly in examining claims of electoral fraud, Shrybman said, adding that this sort of complaint has an ‘automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court’.”

Building a legal case
“Responses from Canadians will be used to build legal cases that robocalls had significant — perhaps even determinant — effects on election outcomes. Neil said their cases will be strongest in ridings where many Canadians come forward saying their votes were suppressed by robocalls. Because of the ‘unprecedented’ nature of the electoral fraud allegations, said the council’s lawyer, Steven Shrybman, the case will be in uncharted legal terrain. He said election results have never before been set aside due to complaints from individual Canadians, and these cases could be the first.”

Court preferable to Elections Canada investigation
“Neil said this public route through the courts is preferable to the ongoing Election Canada investigation, which is being conducted in secret and the results of which may not be publicly disclosed. The courts are also more potent than royal commissions, Neil said, which can recommend action but lack the power to issue legal decisions of their own. ‘Neither of those institutions can restore to them the democratic rights (Canadians) might have lost during the most recent election,’ said Shrybman. ‘Only a Canadian court can do that.’”

To see Neil interviewed on CTV, please go to http://watch.ctv.ca/news/latest/robocalls/#clip629622.