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Duffy testimony should spark new investigation into 2011 election fraud

Ballot boxOTTAWA – The Council of Canadians is calling on the Commissioner of Canada Elections to re-open the investigation into election fraud that took place in 2011 in the wake of recent testimony given last week by Mike Duffy. The organization is also urging the Liberal government to provide new powers to Elections Canada to deal with election fraud.

The former Conservative Senator testified under oath that a “black ops group at Conservative headquarters” ran a misleading robocalls campaign to get Gary Lunn elected as Conservative MP in Saanich—Gulf Islands in 2008. Duffy testified that this was orchestrated by the party's national campaign director Doug Finley. While Finley has since passed away, there are members of the Conservative Party’s 2008 federal election campaign team who were also part of the 2011 and 2015 campaign teams.

“The 2008 robocalls in Saanich—Gulf Islands look like a pilot project run by Conservative Party headquarters for the large-scale election fraud that took place in 2011,” says Dylan Penner, Democracy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “This requires a full investigation into whether senior Conservative Party leaders were directly involved in election fraud in both 2008 and 2011. Voters have a right to know who was behind this attack on democracy, and to be confident that it will never happen again.”

According to the Canadian Press, Duffy testified under oath that the 2008 scheme “used robocalls to misdirect NDP voters, to split the vote and allow Gary Lunn to win. He knew nothing about it, except that they phoned him afterward and said 'You're welcome Gary.' He said 'What?' [They said], 'We got you in'.” Federal NDP candidate Julian West had withdrawn from the race, but not in time to have his name removed from the ballot. On Election Day, West received 3,700 votes and Lunn won by a margin of 2,625.

“This testimony from Mike Duffy about the 2008 Saanich—Gulf Islands campaign fits what we know about the 2011 federal election,” says Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. “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 in at least 247 ridings that tried to prevent them from voting. The Federal Court judge found that the most likely source of the data used to make these fraudulent calls was the Conservative Party of Canada’s central database. Mike Duffy has said under oath that the Conservatives effectively conducted a trial run of that kind of operation in 2008, and that it was orchestrated by the head of the party’s election campaign.”

The Council of Canadians is urging the new Liberal government to act on its commitment to ensure perpetrators of election fraud are held accountable. The best way to do that is to give the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the Chief Electoral Officer, and individual citizens applying under Section 524 of the Canada Elections Act the right to require production of political parties’ voter database records when the information is required for legal proceedings.

Political parties must also be held to account for any unauthorized use of the information they gather about electors.

On multiple occasions, the Council of Canadians has called on the Commissioner of Canada Elections to re-open the investigation into the widespread election fraud that took place in 2011. The Council filed a formal complaint in 2014 outlining the abundant evidence and potential avenues for further investigation, but the investigation was called off. In its formal complaint to the Commissioner, the Council urged that the new investigation make use of the Federal Court ruling of Justice Richard Mosley and the Ontario Superior Court ruling of Justice Gary Hearn as starting points for uncovering new evidence.