Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

MPs summon elections watchdog to talk robo-calls on budget day

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand waits to appear before a Commons committee in Ottawa on Oct. 4, 2011.

Adrian Wyld/Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada's chief electoral officer is being called before MPs to speak about the robo-calls controversy dogging the Harper government on the same day Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget.

The Conservative-controlled procedure and House affairs committee has asked Marc Mayrand to appear March 29, just a few hours before Mr. Flaherty tables the 2012-13 federal budget.

Most of the media in Ottawa that day will be sequestered in a lockup digesting the financial plan. They will be unable to leave the budget proceedings until Mr. Flaherty tables the document at 4 pm ET.

Story continues below advertisement

In his testimony, Mr. Mayrand is expected to offer more details on widespread complaints he's received about misleading or fake calls made to voters during the last election – calls that go far beyond incidents in Guelph already under investigation.

Elections Canada said March 16 it's received 700 specific complaints about phony dialing during the 2011 ballot in recent weeks.

Data gathered by media and opposition parties suggest a pattern is emerging across dozens of ridings: Complaints show that Canadians reporting misleading calls had previously been phoned by the Conservative Party to find out how they would vote.

Mr. Mayrand's office is already investigating what it has alleged in court filings is an operative connected to the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., one it believes used an alias "Pierre Poutine" and misleading robo-calls to try to suppress voting by supporters of rival parties.

Elections Canada will review the 700 complaints and weigh the evidence and determine whether they constitute a breach or possible breach of election law. It will then investigate further if needed.

Report an error Licensing Options
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

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.