No 492 Posted by fw, June 2, 2012
“Once again I say taking it up with Elections Canada is an inadequate response to a serious problem. In 2011 we know there were dozens of ridings in which election fraud took place. I find it absolutely shocking that representatives of any party in the House would be so little concerned, so little troubled that they would leave it to Elections Canada, particularly when budget 2012 cuts Elections Canada’s budget by $7.5 million, further compromising any ability of that agency to get to the bottom of criminal activity.” —Elizabeth May
“Watergate” is Richard Nixon’s legacy — forever. Will “Robogate” be Stephen Harper’s legacy? Elizabeth May seems to want to make it so. “Robogate” is the title she chose for her website version of a Commons question period exchange between herself and Kellie Leith, Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey, Ontario. Here’s a reposting of the piece. A video clip of Ms May’s opening remarks appears at the end of this post.
If Leith’s answer to May’s repeated question isn’t a classic example of arrogance and stonewalling, then I don’t know what is. But then I have made no attempt to conceal my anti-Harper bias on this blog. Read the exchange and judge for yourself.
Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to pursue a question that I initially put to the Prime Minister on March 1. It relates to an issue that is increasingly worrying to many Canadians regardless of how they voted.
This is not a partisan issue, and I want to set that out as a foundation. I include in my statement of non-partisan interest in this issue that I do not believe for a moment that in ridings where there were alleged dirty tricks there is a chance that Conservative candidates, many of whom I have great affection for, would have known about the voter suppression techniques that were used in the election that took place on May 2, 2011.
With the context out of the way, I want to pursue the question I asked on March 1, which was this: in the context of the voter suppression phone calls, which some people call robocalls, we need to understand them as multiple acts of illegal activity. Each single phone call purporting to be Elections Canada when it was not Elections Canada represents a crime. It is a crime on two levels. It is a crime against our fair and democratic free elections under the Canada Elections Act. Purporting to be someone you are not for purposes of fraud is also a crime under the Criminal Code.
It is criminal activity that occurred multiple times in multiple ridings. That is the context. You can call them robocalls, but it is election fraud we are discussing.
My question for the Prime Minister on March 1 dealt with the fact that I am personally aware of extensive evidence of electoral fraud that occurred in Saanich—Gulf Islands, the riding I represent, in the election in which I was not a candidate, the one in 2008, about which the New Democratic Party filed complaints. The Liberal Party filed complaints. Public interest groups like Democracy Watch filed complaints. Third party groups that were concerned about election fraud also filed complaints. Yet, despite a lot of evidence, the RCMP and Elections Canada were unable to get to the bottom of it, which is why I do not think we are yet on the right track to get to the bottom of what happened on May 2, 2011.
This is not to suggest malfeasance on anyone’s part, it is just the reality that I examined. Let me tell you what happened. The failure to get to the bottom of that leads me to the inevitable conclusion that the Prime Minister must call a public inquiry that is properly funded and has subpoena powers and a proper staff to find out how election fraud took place in 2008 in Saanich—Gulf Islands and across Canada on May 2, 2011.
The reality is this. Calls were made in Saanich—Gulf Islands at the last minute on the night before the election only to those voters who supported the New Democratic Party. What would be strange about how this unknown, mysterious calling program got the phone numbers of people only supporting the NDP, as far as I know, to call purportedly from the NDP and urge people to go out and vote NDP?
There was no NDP candidate on the ballot. The name remained but the candidate had withdrawn. These were spoof calls, as we now know the term, in that the phone number that appeared on the call display was actually a home fax number for an executive within the NDP, who filed complaints. With the information they had, they pursued it. He was initially told to go to the Saanich police and complain there. Then he went to the RCMP.
Nothing was discovered because it was not properly investigated. With issues this important, must we not have a full public inquiry? I asked for a full public inquiry from Elections Canada in May of last year and have still not had a response.
I ask the Conservative Party representatives here tonight to explain how we are going to get to the bottom of this if we do not have an inquiry.
Kellie Leith: Mr. Speaker, I will remind the member that we are here in Parliament. This is not about parties. This is about speaking to each other as parliamentarians. We are the government here.
As the government stated numerous times in this House regarding issues like this and the most recent issues, we want Elections Canada’s investigations to go ahead regarding the most recent events. However, regarding concerns the member may have for previous elections which she has raised tonight, I would encourage her to follow up with Elections Canada.
Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary’s invocation that we are parliamentarians here. We are, and as a parliamentarian, I am part of the government, and that is the difficulty we have. When we mess up our language and refer to opposition parties and government parties, we defy the traditions of Westminster parliamentary democracy. I speak here as the Leader of the Green Party, and I speak to my hon. friend, who is a representative of the Conservative Party in the Government of Canada.
Once again I say taking it up with Elections Canada is an inadequate response to a serious problem. In 2011 we know there were dozens of ridings in which election fraud took place. I find it absolutely shocking that representatives of any party in the House would be so little concerned, so little troubled that they would leave it to Elections Canada, particularly when budget 2012 cuts Elections Canada’s budget by $7.5 million, further compromising any ability of that agency to get to the bottom of criminal activity.
Kellie Leitch: Mr. Speaker, this government has expressed its significant concern with these types of issues. As we have said, we encourage and we want Elections Canada to go ahead with investigations on the most recent issues.
Regarding something quite significant that happened in the past, as I mentioned to the member already this evening in the House, I would encourage her to speak with Elections Canada.