A class-action lawsuit would offer insights into the Conservative robocall scandal

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Today, Liberal Leader Bob Rae called on any Conservative official, including the prime minister, to come forward with information they have about the robocall scandal.

Prior to the last election, taped telephone messages were sent to an untold number of homes in a bunch of ridings telling people that their polling-station locations had been changed.

The caller falsely claimed to be from Elections Canada.

Rae likened the dirty trick to "stuffing the ballot box" on behalf of the Conservative party.

The Ottawa Citizen has revealed that Elections Canada traced the deceptive messages to an Edmonton web-hosting company called RackNine.

The first political casualty of the scandal is Michael Sona, who worked for Conservative candidate Marty Burke in Guelph, where some of the calls were sent. Sona resigned yesterday as an aide to Conservative MP Eve Adams. (Adams happens to be dating Dmitri Soudas, former communications director to Stephen Harper.)

The Conservatives have gone into attack mode, with one of its MPs, Dean Del Mastro, issuing a statement complaining of "harassing and misleading phone calls during the 2011 federal campaign" against his campaign in Peterborough.

"The Conservative Party is calling on anyone with any information about harassing calls or calls giving inaccurate poll information to come clean immediately and hand it over to Elections Canada," the Conservative statement declared.

Meanwhile, the Liberals have identified 27 ridings where they allege Conservatives tried to suppress voter turnout with the robocall tactic.

The constitutional issue

The robocall controversy has raised an interesting legal issue. Could people who received calls directing them to the wrong polling station sue the Conservative party and any officials linked to the scandal?

Under Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, "every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of the members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."

If someone phones you and sends you to a nonexistent polling station and you can't vote, then that person has deprived you of your constitutional rights.

There's a distinct possibility that many thousands of Canadians suffered this fate in the last federal election.

Maybe the time has come to call in a good lawyer and file a class-action suit.

This lawyer could subpoena witnesses, demand documents, and possibly force the defendants to pay damages to all those voters whose rights were trampled on.

The best part of all is that the Canadian public might not have to wait years for the RCMP to get to the bottom of this affair when that same RCMP is dependent on the Harper government for its funding.


Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

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21 Comments

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Harper, the pm no one can trust

Feb 25, 2012 at 3:21pm

I can't see the pm lasting to long as he shows his true colours after the election. It isn't just about 15 riding it is the outright vulgarity and criminal undertaking that helped the PM become the most detested prime minister Canada has had the misfortune of having run are country into a fascist state. Harper picks a 3 time fraudster to help with his dirty tricks and government doesn't have the heart to give the dirt bag any jail time so instead them let him in on Canada's secrets.
Would you have voted for the Conservatives knowing the party rigged the election in able to get its majority?
All that bullshit news we all had to listen to about the great Harper man.
Iggy took a beating right from the start as honest men make for easy targets from bullies with no ethics or heart.
The Conservatives are dead to Canadians and have no chance of winning another election and have a good chance of being taken down for the count as Harper has made a lot of enemies out of voters for a start.

2 1 Rating: +1

GOT

Feb 25, 2012 at 3:51pm

Voters in the ridings in which these kinds of calls were experienced should immediately demand a recall of their MP's and hold by-elections. They have no reason to believe that their 'elected' MP was actually elected fairly, or legally. At least ten ridings have been identified so far, which suggests that the calls were part of a widespread plan by somebody, or somebodies, to interfere with the election process. Regardless of the by-election results, if they occur, any persons involved in this in the first place should go to prison. This kind of electoral fraud has no place in Canada and must be severely dealt with. Immediately. No debates, no committee hearings, no more bullshit. MP recall and by-elections now.

6 1 Rating: +5

Katie lau

Feb 25, 2012 at 7:49pm

Any political party cheating in elections and taking over our government illegally should never be allowed access to our tax dollars to spend on their pet projects, many staying in power, abusing that power and then changing our laws to suit their crimes. Out damn Harper out!

3 2 Rating: +1

GOT

Feb 25, 2012 at 8:06pm

just as a matter of interest...why are we seeing Bob Rae's face all over this? The Official Opposition is the NDP...hello? anybody awake over there in the NDP caucus? Or does Bob still speak for you? Hello? Anybody? Jack? Are you spinning in your grave? I sure as hell would be if I were you!

1 1 Rating: 0

DJBALL

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:15pm

Scandal after scandal and we haven't even come close to scratching the surface.
Surely this makes the election results null and void

2 4 Rating: -2

Pat

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:45pm

In the last election, for the first time ever, my polling station in the Vancouver Centre (Liberal) riding was several kilometres from my residence.

We walked and it took us over 30 minutes each way.

Seniors in my neighbourhood found it hard to get there, and some I know just didn’t bother going.

I talked to volunteers at the polling station about the reduction of the number of polling stations and how far many people had to travel to get to there, and it didn’t make sense to them either.

At the time, people were joking about how it could have been a plan to reduce voter turnout in a traditionally non-Conservative riding ... and now I'm starting to think that might be true.

2 1 Rating: +1

out at night

Feb 25, 2012 at 9:57pm

No one's going to redraw the political map, no Tories are going to have to give up their seats, no ridings will be recontested anytime soon. Even if the cops find a whole roomful of smoking guns!

Nope, they knew what they were doing: pull any dirty trick, as long as it gets you elected, then you've got your majority and 5 years to put through all the pipelines, spy bills and asorted evil deeds on your To-do list. If the electoral misdeeds are uncovered, oh well, better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? Didn't we see this in a couple US elections when ol' Georgie Boy Jr. got in with outright election fraud in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004)?

4 2 Rating: +2

Terry Wiens

Feb 25, 2012 at 10:20pm

Sign me up!

2 2 Rating: 0

Ben

Feb 25, 2012 at 10:26pm

I wouldn't have been dumb enough to vote Harper in the first place, thank God. Now, let's get rid of this scumbag!

1 1 Rating: 0
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