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Elections Canada probe focuses on 700 similar robo-call complaints

Two young children take part in a Montreal protest over the robo-call election scandal on March 11, 2012.

Graham Hughes/Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Elections Canada, which is probing fraudulent robo-calls that tried to discourage voting in one Ontario riding, has now revealed it's received a total of 700 similar complaints.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand warned Canadians against drawing premature conclusions on what his agency has already found, saying investigators are keeping as quiet as possible until they are done.

"Like all law enforcement bodies, the Office of the Commissioner generally does not disclose information on its investigative activities in order to protect the presumption of innocence and privacy," Mr. Mayrand said.

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"This also ensures that investigations are carried out effectively while meeting the high standards of due process and impartiality that are required and expected in a free and democratic society. In this regard, I advise caution about drawing conclusions based on possibly inaccurate and incomplete information."

Elections Canada has had 31,000 "contacts" from Canadians in recent weeks on robo-calls.

But the agency has revealed the majority were form letters rather than specific complaints.

Mr. Mayrand said in fact the watchdog has now collected 700 similar allegations.

"Immediately following the 2011 general election, the Commissioner of Canada Elections deployed resources to investigate complaints of fraudulent or improper calls. Since then over 700 Canadians from across the country have informed us of specific circumstances where they believe similar wrongdoing took place. I appreciate the interest that Canadians have shown in this matter and thank them for their continued collaboration."

He offered to testify before a parliamentary committee to inform Canadians on how investigations work.

"As I have previously indicated, I intend to submit a report to Parliament in due course. In the meantime, as an agent of Parliament, I would welcome the opportunity to appear before the parliamentary committee responsible for electoral matters to provide information on our administrative and investigative processes."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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