TORONTO– Any Conservative MP, candidate or party official who has any knowledge of the widespread vote suppression campaign during the last election must turn the information over to the RCMP or Elections Canada for investigation, said Liberal Leader Bob Rae today.
“These MPs, candidates and Conservative Party officials all benefited from an elaborate web of under-handed vote suppression tactics, that included but didn’t stop at, false and misleading phone calls,” said Mr. Rae. “If they don’t come forward with what they know then they are complicit with electoral fraud that, certainly in my mind, is on the scale of ballot box stuffing. It is hard to believe that in a scheme this widespread and elaborate, there are not a large number of people who would have knowledge of some of the things that took place and who directed it all.”
Mr. Rae released a list of 27 ridings in which the Liberal Party has received reports of misleading or harassing phone calls, as well as other tactics that were used to prevent probable Liberal supporters from casting a ballot.
“Unfortunately, this doesn’t end at phone calls,” said Mr. Rae. “We have heard reports of aggressive people acting on behalf of the Conservative Party outside of polling locations misleading voters, often seniors or new Canadians, in an attempt to prevent them from casting a ballot. There are also extremely disturbing reports of scores of ‘instant voters’ who cast ballots in certain ridings in which they were not actually residents.”
Mr. Rae noted that some of the alleged violations, including falsely impersonating Elections Canada or a Liberal campaign, go beyond a violation of the Canada Elections Act and may even result in a conviction under the Criminal Code.
“For the phone scheme alone, there were hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of phone calls which would have required hundreds of phone bank callers using targeted lists in over 25 ridings. This would have cost thousands upon thousands of dollars to pull off. To even suggest this was organized by one lone 23-year old staffer is beyond ridiculous,” added Mr. Rae.
Mr. Rae was joined at his news conference by Grant Gordon, the Liberal Party candidate in Toronto-Danforth, who expressed concern that these kinds of tactics could be used in the by-election that is currently underway, and urged anyone in Toronto-Danforth who experiences any sort of intimidation to contact his office.
“We need everyone to be vigilant to ensure that neither the Conservatives, nor any other party, benefits from these kinds of despicable and un-Canadian tactics during this by-election. I encourage anyone to blow the whistle with Elections Canada if they notice any dubious activity,” said Mr. Gordon. “It is the right of every Canadian to freely and fairly cast a ballot. If you get a call, if you get a sign, if you question whether it is my office contacting you, please let us know. I am running a clean campaign.”
Mr. Rae invited anyone who received a suspicious phone call or who believes they fell victim to some other vote suppression tactic in the last general election to contact the Liberal Party, or if they prefer, Elections Canada directly.
Below is the list of ridings in which Liberals received reports of false or misleading phone calls during the 2011 General Election. Please note that this list may not be complete as new reports and information continue to be received.
1. Sydney — Victoria (NS)
2. Egmont (PE)
3. Eglington — Lawrence (ON)
4. Etobicoke Centre (ON)
5. Guelph (ON)
6. Cambridge (ON)
7. Hamilton East — Stoney Creek (ON)
8. Haldimand — Norfolk (ON)
9. Kitchener — Conestoga (ON)
10. Kitchener – Waterloo (ON)
11. London North Centre (ON)
12. London West (ON)
13. Mississauga East — Cooksville (ON)
14. Niagara Falls (ON)
15. Oakville (ON)
16. Ottawa Orleans (ON)
17. Ottawa West — Nepean (ON)
18. Parkdale – High Park (ON)
19. Perth – Wellington (ON)
20. Simcoe – Grey (ON)
21. St. Catharines (ON)
22. St. Paul’s (ON)
23. Sudbury (ON)
24. Wellington – Halton Hills (ON)
25. Willowdale (ON)
26. Saint Boniface (MB)
27. Winnipeg South Centre (MB)