Nov 262012
Print Friendly

56,000 messages call for transparency, enforcement.

from Democracy Watch

OTTAWA — On November 23, Democracy Watch called on the federal Conservatives to introduce a bill to ban false election robocalls and strengthen election law enforcement. They had previously promised to introduce the bill by the end of September, under a resolution that carried unanimously in Parliament last March.

Democracy Watch’s national letter-writing and petition drive has resulted in more than 56,000 messages being sent to politicians across Canada calling on them to pass effective laws to stop election fraud robocalls, and to strengthen enforcement of election laws.

To their credit, the federal Liberals introduced private member last May. Bill C-424 would increase fines for false robocalls — and other fraudulent attempts to sway voters from — $2,000-$5,000 up to $20,000 to $50,000. The Conservatives rejected Bill C-424 on Wednesday (November 21).

Also to their credit, the federal NDP introduced private member Bill C-453 on October 17th, sponsored by Democratic Reform Critic MP Craig Scott. Scott's bill would, if enacted, prohibit false robocalls during federal elections and strengthen enforcement in ways that match most of Democracy Watch’s recommended changes.

The Alberta Conservative government has also introduced Bill 7 which, among other changes, requires the sponsor of any robocall to clearly identify themselves and their contact phone number and political party affiliation in the call.

In contrast, the federal Conservatives continue to fail to introduce their promised bill.

“Canadians have heard the federal Conservatives talk the talk about concerns over false election robocalls and weak enforcement of election laws, but the Conservatives continue to fail to walk the walk and introduce a bill to ban false robocalls and strengthen enforcement,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator for Democracy Watch.

“Clearly the Conservatives and politicians in the provinces and territories need to be pushed. So Democracy Watch will continue its letter-writing drive, which makes it easy for people across the country to call on key politicians across Canada to make the changes needed to clean up and ensure our elections are fair.”

Tens of thousands of voters received false robocalls, in more than 230 ridings, during the spring 2011 federal election. Such calls were also used to mislead voters in some provincial elections.

Tens of thousands of voters received false robocalls, in more than 230 ridings, during the spring 2011 federal election. Such calls were also used to mislead voters in some provincial elections.

Even with measures to make false robocalls illegal and essentially impossible, there are also enforcement problems. Elections Canada is still investigating the false robocalls from the 2011 federal election, but has failed to disclose the rulings it has made on more than 2,000 complaints it received from 1997 to 2010, and more than 1,000 complaints it received during the 2011 federal election. It has also recently made some very questionable rulings.

Elections Canada must be required to disclose every ruling it makes to ensure that it proves it is enforcing the law fairly and properly (and election agencies across Canada must also be required to disclose all their rulings)

Democracy Watch is calling on Canadians to send a letter and to sign the petition that call on both federal politicians to introduce and pass a law to stop false election robocalls and strengthen enforcement, and also for politicians in every province and territory to pass similar laws that apply to their provincial, territorial and municipal elections.

About Democracy Watch

Democracy Watch is a national non-profit, non-partisan organization, and Canada’s leading citizen group advocating democratic reform, government accountability and corporate responsibility.

© Copyright 2012 Democracy Watch, All rights Reserved. Written For:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.