More than 700 'specific' robocall election complaints
Members of parliament are set to debate a proposed overhaul of the Elections Act. (Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:01PM EDT
OTTAWA - Canada's chief electoral officer said Thursday he's received 700 specific complaints of fraudulent or improper phone calls placed during last spring's election.
In a statement that seemed designed to set the record straight, Marc Mayrand emphasized that investigators have been looking into the so-called robocalls since they first heard of them after the May 2 vote.
"Since then, over 700 Canadians from across the country have informed us of specific circumstances where they believe similar wrongdoing took place," Mayrand said.
"I appreciate the interest that Canadians have shown in this matter and thank them for their continued collaboration."
Another 31,000 people have voiced their concern to Elections Canada about the robocalls, most of them using online forms produced by third parties.
Parliament and the media have been gripped with stories of Canadians who received calls directing them to erroneous or non-existent polling stations, calls allegedly aimed at dissuading the individuals from voting.
Mayrand emphasized that Elections Canada is equipped to undertake the probe. Some critics, including the Liberal party, have called for a public inquiry into the automated calls.
"The Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections examines all complaints concerning alleged offences under the Act and can draw on the necessary resources to conduct a thorough investigation," Mayrand wrote.
Mayrand also said that because of privacy rules and the presumption of innocence, his office does not comment on its investigations. He urged Canadians not to jump to any conclusions based on possibly inaccurate or incomplete information.
The chief electoral officer said he will report to Parliament on the issue in "due course," and said he would welcome the chance to appear before a parliamentary committee to talk about how his office does its work.
With Parliament about to begin a one-week break, MPs won't be able to discuss an invitation until March 26.