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NEWS: Elections Canada receives ‘phone fraud’ complaints from 200 ridings; takes budget cut of $7.5 million

The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada’s chief electoral officer is rejecting any attempts to play down the extent of the voter-suppression tactics in the last election, expressing his outrage for the first time in public about fraudulent robo-calls made in the name of his impartial organization. ‘It’s absolutely outrageous,’ Marc Mayrand told a parliamentary committee. ‘It’s totally unacceptable in a modern democracy’. Elections Canada has received complaints about phone fraud in the last election in about 200 ridings in 10 provinces and one territory. Mr. Mayrand said the complaints ‘cut pretty much across the whole country’. It was the first indication from Elections Canada about the breadth of the complaints of automated and live calls that aimed to disrupt last year’s general election.”

In early-March, concerns were expressed about the capacity of Elections Canada to adequately investigate the voter suppression controversy. The Globe and Mail at that time reported, “Elections Canada never comments on whether it is investigating possible violations of the act, but spokesman John Enright said (February 29) that if there is evidence that the act was violated, they will take steps. …(But) many of those who complained to Elections Canada about harassing calls have never heard back from the agency. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae suggested (on February 29) that the agency may not have the resources it needs to investigate what his party alleges is a widespread pattern of deceptive calls.”

This morning, in an on-line article about yesterday’s federal budget, CBC reports, “Elections Canada funding will be cut by $7.5 million a year, starting in 2012-13.”

On March 27, the Council of Canadians announced that it is supporting applications under the Canada Elections Act by individual Canadians seeking to overturn federal election results in seven ridings. The ridings are Don Valley East, Elmwood-Transcona, Nipissing-Tamiskaming, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Vancouver Island North, Winnipeg South Centre and Yukon. The legal actions to annul results are based on evidence of irregularities, fraud and other activities which affected the outcome of the elections. For more on this legal challenge, go to http://canadians.org/democracy247.

This Saturday March 31, there will be a national day of action against election fraud in more than 20 cities across the country. For information on the rally in your community, please go to http://newelectionnow.wordpress.com/rallies/. Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil will be speaking at the rally in Vancouver, while Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara will be speaking at the rally outside Old City Hall in Toronto.