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Elections Canada discloses some information about robocall complaints from 2011 election, but must still disclose its rulings on more than 2,280 complaints it received since 2004, and elections law must still be changed

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Board member Duff Conacher which was published on on March 29, 2012

Elections Canada head Marc Mayrand took a small step toward much-needed transparency when he disclosed today at a parliamentary committee hearing that, in fact, a total of 800 complaints were filed by voters about false phone calls during the 2011 federal election from 200 ridings, and that 250 investigations have been initiated, and when he committed to report fully on each complaint.

However, in part because MPs failed to ask him key questions about Elections Canada’s enforcement record, Mr. Mayrand continued to keep secret details about rulings on complaints from past elections, and details about 1,000 other complaints filed with Elections Canada by voters during the 2011 election.

Elections Canada received a combined total of 1,281 complaints during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, and an unknown number of complaints in between elections since 2004.  Elections Canada has never disclosed (archive website) any information about these complaints and what it did with each complaint.

To give Canadians confidence that it can trust Elections Canada to enforce the law properly and ensure fair elections, Elections Canada must report a summary of the nature of the complaint, and the decision it made and enforcement actions taken, for all of these complaints — 1,281 complaints from past elections, and 1,703 complaints about the 2011 election.

If Elections Canada refuses to disclose this key information, Canadians have a right to assume that Elections Canada is covering up questionable investigation and enforcement activities.

And every provincial, territorial and municipal election agency should also be disclosing, and required to disclose, information about each complaint received and how they handle complaints, to help ensure fair elections across the country.

And, of course, election laws across the country must be changed to make false phone calls impossible (archive website).

For more details, go to Democracy Watch’s Voter Rights Campaign page