Robocalls scandal: Elections Canada flooded with complaints

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Jordan Press – March 2, 2012

Elections Canada has received a deluge of complaints from Canadians since the robocall scandal first broke — 31,000 and counting.

Since the robocall story was first reported by Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen 10 days ago, concerned Canadians have flooded Elections Canada with reports that they received questionable automated calls during the May election, the agency said Friday.

"Elections Canada has received a high volume of complaints in recent days as a result of MPs and political parties calling on the public to send information to the agency," Elections Canada spokesman John Enright said in an emailed statement.

"More than 31,000 contacts have been initiated with Elections Canada by Canadians. Elections Canada is reviewing these and will take action as appropriate."

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae reacted quickly to the news Friday morning, saying it was an "unprecedented" development.

Rae said that following past elections, the norm has been 300 to 600 complaints.

He said this will make it much more difficult for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to continue defending his government over the scandal by insisting it's just opposition parties spreading sleeze because they are sore losers.

"He's going to have a hard time simply dismissing what happened in the last election," Rae said.

Enright said Elections Canada will provide a report to Parliament "in due course" on its investigation, but did not provide a specific timeline for disclosure. However, Enright said the decision to release investigation findings will be based on three considerations that are in the public interest:

- The need to protect the presumption of innocence and privacy;

- The need for the Office of the Commissioner to carry out its compliance and enforcement responsibilities in a manner that is consistent, effective, impartial and in conformity with applicable law;

- And the need to maintain public confidence in the fairness of an electoral process carried out in accordance with the Canada Elections Act.

"The Commissioner of Canada Elections has the authority, during periods of high volume, to contract additional resources or call upon other law enforcement agencies, such as the RCMP, to lend assistance and expertise," Enright said.

"Like all law enforcement bodies, the Office of the Commissioner generally does not confirm or deny the existence of a complaint or referral, nor does the commissioner disclose information on the investigations or reviews that he conducts."

Original article on Edmonton Journal website