What the election commissioner said - Macleans.ca

What the election commissioner said

It’s true there’s no evidence dirty tricks changed the overall election. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect close races.


Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com/Flickr

During QP yesterday, Pierre Poilievre stood and relayed a remark of the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding.

That sentence is taken from a memo that was released by Elections Canada, though heavily redacted, through an access to information request. For the record, the full observation reads as follows.

There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the final result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.

That memo is dated May 16. Two months later, the Chief Electoral Officer released his official report on the 41st general election. Under the heading “Electoral law enforcement,” Marc Mayrand explains that the commissioner received 1,003 communications.

The Commissioner’s Office dealt with the majority of the 1,003 communications in a timely manner by verifying the complaint, providing the requested information, contacting the parties to correct the situation or educating the parties involved on the requirements of the Canada Elections Act. Most of these complaints concerned one of the following categories:

  • the legality of certain activities undertaken during the election
  • the absence of authorization statements in election advertising
  • election advertising that appeared to be paid for by the government or appeared to provide an advantage to incumbents
  • campaigning in certain locations, such as malls and apartment buildings
  • unsolicited telephone calls
  • automated telephone messages
  • signs placed without permission
  • crank calls

Mr. Mayrand reports on two particular issues—communication technology and third-party advertising—and then concludes with the following note.

The Commissioner is looking into several complaints surrounding:

  • premature transmission of election results on polling day by major media
  • crank calls designed to discourage voting, discourage voting for a particular party, or incorrectly advise electors of changed polling locations
  • employers’ obligation to allow employees time to vote


What the election commissioner said

  1. this just in: several documents from 1996 show no evidence of a sponsorship scandal! 

    • I’m impressed you nailed the point down in so few words. LOL

  2. Well I can see Elections Canada not being alarmed at that time….this kind of tactic is new to Canada, and they didn’t realize how widespread it was or the damage it was doing.

    But for Poilievre to rise in the House and give that totally misleading statement is just stupid….surely he realizes other people have the full report?

    • They just want the 15-second sound byte on the news, Emily.  Because that’s all most voters will ever hear.  Now, that is; as this continues to roll out over months — hopefully years, because it will, it will have that cumulative affect that caused so many Liberals to eventually change their vote, or not bother.  And eventually even some conservative voters will change their votes by 2015.  Or the cons will have to have a new leader, and will be in disarray. 

    • Smear tactics by the Liberals and NDP is not new, we’ve experienced it for decades. Nearly a year after the election and only now are those parties manufacturing this phony scandal.

      • Recite that to yourself 3 times, and then click your heels together.

        I’m sure Tinkerbelle will show up with the fairy dust, and make it all go away.

      • NFA (not factually accurate.

  3. “There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the final result.”

    Dr Bennett ~ Will the Conservatives stop the ‘I am not a crook’ rhetoric and comply fully with Elections Canada and the RCMP to get to the bottom of the largest electoral fraud known in Canadian history.

    PJ O’Rourke ~ At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child – miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill disciplined, despotic, and useless. Liberalism is the philosophy of sniveling brats

    • Quoting 
      PJ O’Rourke  to support 
      Pierre Poilievre is just plain sad. You should know better.

      • He quotes PJ O’Rourke to support or trash everyone.  He has a very limited supply of quotes, and they are usually out of date or context.

        • But at least P.J. O’Rourke is funny.  Not like the humourless bunch that we have on the government side.

          • O’Rourke is only funny the first thousand times you see the quotes. After that it’s just tedious.

            Fully agree that Cons have no sense of humour though.

    • Why is it OK to allow electoral fraud to continue?

      Is it a grand plan? Maybe. Is it some overzealous party workers? Maybe. Is it a ‘lone gunman’? Maybe. Is it OK to allow to continue? No.

      Just investigate it and punish the person who did it. Move on. Why is this considered snivelling liberalism to demand this crap stop?

      • Shenanigans are not going to stop, it is human nature to lie, cheat, and steal in order for your side to win. It is wearisome listening to Liberals complain about dirty tricks when they have their own prince of darkness who likes to brag about his exploits.

        “Warren Kinsella is the author of Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics … Warren Kinsella is Canada’s own “Prince of Darkness.” From the moment he was recruited to help the Liberals in the campaign to unseat Kim Campbell in 1993, Kinsella became an enthusiastic advocate of tough, in-your-face politics …. You’ll learn about push-polling, frugging, ratf**king, quick response, dirty tricks and oppo, and you’ll learn how to counter them all.”

        • Yeah, and if he broke the law in doing so, he should be prosecuted.

          If the line isn’t crossed when we tell voters to go to non-existent polls, where DO we draw the line, Tony?

          • We draw the line where Liberals do things, silly! 

          • No, we the Canadian people punished the liberals by voting against them, decimating them, and almost destroying them as a party.  I love this new conservative meme that the Liberals got away with something.

            If this scandal is true – and there’s a LOT of smoke, so I sense a fire – then this government should also be decimated.

          • To be clear, I meant that many CPC complaints are framed with conditions to make them applicable only to Liberals while exonerating CPC conduct. 

          • People are imperfect and I am not believer in cosmic justice.

            I don’t know where we draw line because partisans lie and cheat in order for their side to win – human nature.

            If Elections Canada can prove allegations, and then identify culprit, I agree person should be punished but I don’t believe it will change a thing. 

            Elections now, compared to any time in our history, are much cleaner and fair. Canadian elections are less and less corrupt as we progress.

          • Well, allowing people to pretend to be Elections Canada officials isn’t going to be doing your ‘slow march of progress’ any favours. Nip it in the bud, I say.

          • I draw the line at about the second or third repetition of that tiresome quote from O’Rourke…but that’s just me.

          • HA!

        • Minor stuff….playing with a stuffed dinosaur on TV etc….he didn’t try and subvert democracy.

      • It’s OK to reward electoral fraud in order for it to continue.  That’s the biggest problem, IMO.

    • “There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding.”
      IRRELEVANT — the actions themselves were illegal.

      Canadians have a right to vote without interference; it is the core of democracy.  Interfering is illegal.

      Or would the disingenuous Pierre Poilievre try to defend against a charge of Attempted Murder by saying “but the doctor said the guy didn’t actually die!”

      There are many things I like about the conservative party, but the partisan lies they bellow (Poilievre, Toewes, Van Loan) are just embarrassing.This scandal may well – and probably should – bring down this government.

    • Fail.

      • Pass.

    • PJ O’Rourke~No
      drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If
      we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test
      people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed
      and love of power.

      • One of my favourite quotes but I am certain we do not agree who the stupid people are. 

        • I was thinking more “greed and love of power”

  4. Yet Elizabeth May sent a letter on May 19 outlining voter problems in her riding as well as others. What do these people get paid to do? 

  5. Am I missing something or is a partial quoting of Elections Canada on May 16th, before a lot of this came to light, a seriously unethical thing to do?

    • It’s Pierre Poilievre. You’re not missing anything.

  6. So what are the facts?
    We know that someone(s) produced a fake recording purporting to come from elections Canada that purposefully tried to mislead voters to fake voting locations.
    We know that Elections Canada does not make such calls, so these are truly fraudulent and not mistakes.
    We know that complaints of this are coming from multiple ridings across the country.
    We know that some of these calls came through a Racknine account which works closely with the Conservatives.
    We know a burner cell phone was used to hide the identity of at least one person.
    We know that the complaints come almost entirely from Liberal and NDP voters.
    In conjunction we know for a fact that;
    1) The Conservatives have already used robot-calls to harass and mislead constituents in Cotler’s riding concerning his status as their representative.
    2) That many Liberal voters received phoney and purposefully harassing calls purporting to be from the Liberal party.
    3) That a Conservative campaign staffer tried to grab and ballot box and stop a group of university students from voting.
    Okay, so we know all this. Now, what does it take in this country for the government to at least appear to take these things seriously? Because from where I’m sitting they can’t seem to gather any apparent outrage that these things happened at all.
    I mean this is the “law and order” party isn’t it? Where’s the outrage one would expect for voter fraud?
    They’re so incensed by the gun registry, the wheat board, the census etc, but potential treason that supposedly could undermine them too… isn’t a big concern?
    Marijuana is the devil incarnate and deserves hard time, but possible treason gets barely a nod of acknowledgement?
    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but it seems to me that the first requirement in perpetrating a crime is convincing yourself that doing so is NO BIG DEAL. This would explain their reaction better than just about anything else frankly.
    There are too many facts here to ignore. Someone(s) attempted to perpetrate a very serious crime.
    A cursory consideration of the means, motive and opportunity points towards the conservatives.
    I should think therefore that they more than anyone else has a vested interest in clearing the air.
    Unless they’re guilty of course, in which case they’d want the opposite.
    If I were a CPC member, I’d want my party to be far more proactive than it’s been, so what’s stopping them?

    • You conveniently forgot to point out that the NDP has also used robo-calls in a highly unethical manner before: 

      “A cursory consideration of the means, motive and opportunity points towards the conservatives.” – perhaps condering the means points to the CPC (because they have the funds), but motive and opportunity point equally at all parties, if not the CPC the least. The Liberals knew they had a lot to lose, and the NDP were looking for their best showing ever.

      How would you suggest the CPC be more proactive? They’re assisting Elections Canada and the RCMP in the investigation. What more should they do?

      •  Where did you hear the Conservatives admit they were assisting the RCMP in an investigation?  Quite the contrary, all I have heard Mr. Harper repeatedly answer is that the Conservative party has (and always will) “sent all the information to Elections Canada”. 

        Please let me know where you heard/read a Conservative state more.  Thanks.

        • And Generalissimo Steve doesn’t say what that information.

      • Many consider the NDP calls in St-Maurice to be unethical but no one has ever said they could be illegal. These are not under investigation by Elections Canada, as far as I know.

        As for motive, doing everything you can to win a majority of seats in the HoC is a very good motive. Four days before the vote Conservatives were claiming they were short of a majority and that they were going to use their highly superior systems to ‘get the vote out’ to win a majority. 

        Where I have problem is connecting this to Stephen Harper, and I notice that Harper says that the national campaign had nothing to do with the calls.  Mr. Harper has made it very clear that electoral fraud is something he rewards, so I wouldn’t be surprised that everyone understands the message – each in their own way.

        However, it seems that the national campaign would have had something to do with in-and-out practices in Quebec again in 2011, knowing its illegality.  At least that’s what a defeated conservative claims, and that’s what his reported expenses support.  But again, that is something Harper believes should be rewarded, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see persons convicted of electoral fraud receive Jubilee medals in the coming months.

      • “Convenient” my rear end.
        What you’ve linked to is a story of how the NDP, incensed by their backbencher switching to the Liberals, tried to orchestrate an outcry to force a by-election.
        How that ranks with election fraud is beyond me, when indeed one could argue that they were responding to voter misrepresentation rather than fostering it.
        Frankly Rick I’m disappointed. This reply of yours is beneath your normal standard. I’m going to choose to ignore it in fact and pretend it didn’t happen.
        As far as how the CPC could’ve been more proactive, a good start would’ve been dispensing with the defensive tone and getting out in front by claiming shock that these things may have happened and promising to get to the bottom of it one way or another.
        So far I’ve sensed no shock at all, and only a tepid passing of the buck concerning assurances that things will be dealt with. 
        Right or wrong, their communication strategy so far has done nothing but make them look indifferent to the accusations, not of their guilt, but of the occurrences themselves.
        Again, if the Conservatives wanted at least the appearance of innocence, acting truly shocked would’ve been appropriate as would making an apparent and earnest attempt to push the issue forward in terms of uncovering what happened.
        That the majority government resulting from this election couldn’t put together even one clear declaration purporting the seriousness of the potential problem and vowing a strong response, bothers me to no end.

        And you know what? I think it bothers you too, otherwise you’d be touting how great their response was instead.

        • Phil, I generally agree with your thesis, but you’re making it out to be more black-and-white than I believe it is.
          For example, you dismiss the NDP example above because it had nothing to do with the election, and didn’t occur during an election. But then, neither did the robo-calls in Cotler’s riding. Those only occured after the election. Your argument “We know the Tories used robo-calls before” could easily be expanded to “We know the Tories and NDP have used robo-calls before.” Your exemption for the NDP (it occurred outside an election, and “How that ranks with election fraud is beyond me”) could also be applied to the Tory example, IMO.
          Of course, I’m not suggesting that the NDP orchestrated the whole thing. The burden of proof is on the Tories to prove that it wasn’t them who made robo-calls during the election.
          In any case, I think with a proper investigation and a little time, the truth will come out.

          • I take your point, but understand what I was replying to. It was claimed that I was “conveniently” ignoring the NDP robocalls, and yet I don’t see how it really applies?

            My reference to Cotler was part of showing that the CPC has already shown it will stoop to extremely unethical practices using robo-calls, ie it constitutes a pattern of unethical behaviour.
            The Cotler example is one in which a party actually lied to constituents about their representative and sought to make gains from it.

            However, I’m hard pressed to see the NDP action as unethical. Annoying perhaps, even uncalled for, but certainly not unethical, unless one means it in a very minor sense. After all, floor crossing itself can be seen as misrepresentation, and they were merely trying to get people to voice their concerns. I can agree it’s an inappropriate way to act, but let’s not get carried away with it.

            Given the degrees of magnitude of difference here, I found Rick’s comment… misleading.



          • Quite possibly the Liberals also use robocalls.  The NDP have used them in a way some think unethical because they didn’t identify themselves.  The CPC used them to lie.

            Surely I don’t need to spell out the difference? 

          • I understand the difference. We were discussing other examples of robo-calls, in particular the NDP recently, and Tory calls to Cotler’s riding, in the context above. But Phil elaborated his point, and I’m happy to leave it at that.

  7.  There is nothing wrong with what Poilievre said.

    While EC is investigating robocall, they’ve said that the integrity of the election results is not in question.

    A week into this scandal, and we’ve produced a grand total of a whopping one single person who claims he didn’t vote because of robocall, because he was too tired to go back out again after being led to a stray poll.

    Again, I’m not defending robocall; the attempt in itself is illegal and whoever it is should face the consequences; but there is zero evidence at this point to suggest the integrity of the election itself has been compromised, and I don’t see how anyone can reasonably argue otherwise. Therefore, zero issue with Poilievre’s comment.

    • You have to parse it pretty hard to get there though.  You and I both know that most people don’t pay attention, and what they’ll get from Pierre’s message is “Elections Canada doesn’t think anything wrong happened”.  By pulling the quote out of context, he’s deliberately trying to send that message, a message which is simply false.

      Incidentally, we now have 1 person who reports it disenfranchised him. While that’s one person too many already, wasn’t it the CPC that was so big on the unreported crimes? If I remember right, that was the entire reason Vic “Deadbeat Dad” Toews gave for needing the new crime legislation. Or do those not matter if it looks like the CPC is the criminal?

    • “…While EC is investigating robocall, they’ve said that the integrity of the election results is not in question…”

      No, they said that on May 16th 2011, but have since expanded their investigations into the matter and not restated that opinion for nearly ten months now, despite recent and incredible scrutiny, which suggests they can no longer make that statement because the investigations involve it.

      I’m not sure why you’d even come out defending this given the uncertainty of the whole thing… unless the facts don’t matter?

    • If a liberal or dipper had given that partial and misleading quote you’d be humming another tune. It’s meant to detract from the nub of the matter that it’s illegal, which is ironic since you go on to make the point PP chose to avoid.

      • Well of course it is. No different that what our media does, when they toss out numbers that try to make the problem look as huge as possible, even though it’s so far restricted to not even half the number of ridings they are trumpeting.

        The CPC, or more specifically the Prime Minister, has absolutely and categorically denied party involvement. What else is Poilievre supposed to do, contradict him? Based on what?

        Again, I’m not saying what happened wasn’t illegal. Just saying that there is nothing at this point that I’ve seen which changes EC’s original comment that the integrity of the election results holds. Attempted murder is wrong and punishable, but it doesn’t result in a dead body, just like attempted tampering doesn’t result in an invalid election. All Poilievre said is, essentially, no reason to consider by-elections. At this point there is no reasonable basis on which to disagree with that statement.

        • “What else is Poilievre supposed to do?”

          Maybe Pierre should find out what his constituents think of all this and respond to any questions in a manner that respects their wishes.

          And, speaking of what would be the honourable thing to do, I would be interested to hear what MP Chong has to say about all this.

          One CPC MP to who I am clinging for a shred of integrity.

          • Michael Chong got up in Member’s Statements before QP and roundly condemned what has been alleged and urged the RCMP and Elections Canada to get to the bottom of it.  Meanwhile some of his colleagues took the opportunity to do the usual dung flinging at the opposition.  Chong has definitely separated himself from the others on his side.

        • I was with you till you last two sentence(mostly). If you read the whole quote your conclusion makes no sense; close results might well be affected.
          The election may not have been stolen but some ridings may have been. The defense I , oh I only meant to wound him M’Lord, is no kind of defense here at all. Are you claiming that if only one riding is lost to these tactics and is provably linked to the Tories that they should continue to govern? If they prove even one riding this govt is toast.

          • No. If the Tories are finally implicated in a way that proves Harper was knowingly lying when he clearly and unequivocally acquitted the party, then I’ll expect his resignation.

            But until then…again, I repeat…exactly one person has come forward and said that the robocall scam had its intended effect of suppressing a vote. In a riding the CPC won by a landslide.

          • No crime unless it’s reported?

            Minister Toews would like a word with you.

          • I suspect the laws interpretation of intent and its consequences is a good deal narrower than yours. However, I agree solid proof is needed and may be tough to find.

          • To MostlyCivil:
            So , in your imagination, there are many more Liberals out there who really wanted to vote Liberal but that nasty Harper prevented him from casting his vote?

            You guys certainly are persistent in coming up with reasons why you lost the election.

        • “What else is Poilievre supposed to do, contradict him?”

          Well, if he can’t tell the truth, he could at least keep silent. Deliberately taking a quote out of context to mislead the House and Canadians generally is just sleazy.

    • It’s like those selective quotations of reviews for really bad movies. For instance you might see stuff like: …best movie I’ve ever seen …” while the actual quote reads, “This is not the best movie I ever seen. In fact it ranks right up there with there with the worst movie ever made, Battlefield Earth.”

    • I’d give you that one if Elections Canada was now saying they don’t think the integrity of the election was challenged even they are currently investigating.

  8. It seems the Commissioner of Canada Elections (not the media interface) was not particularly pleased with his requests for greater powers of investigation into election spending being defeated by … guess who .. the Conservatives.  In a secret vote.  In February 2012.

    How displeased was the Commissioner?  Well, Elections Canada has been accepting applications for a new Commissioner since February 15 (and will continue until March 2 — that’s tomorrow – get yours in now!).

    This is very interesting and doesn’t fit with the usual “law and order” stance of the Conservative party.  Neither does it fit nicely with the recent push behind C-30 which would given much increased latitude for investigations by police.

    Election spending, huh.  The same election spending in which the Conservatives reportedly omitted any mention of monies paid to RackNine.  Huh.

    Far too many pieces of this puzzle are starting to converge and point to much more than a rogue staffer.  (CBC has reported several ridings in BC have now heard from voters who also received misleading calls about polling stations. The snowball is growing daily.)

    I expect to see some Conservatives crossing the floor to preserve their credibility with local constituents.  I doubt this debacle included a majority of their members.  Should we start a pool?  When will the first one cross?

    Here’s the article where the secret vote is reported (near the end… last five or so paragraphs) http://www.canada.com/news/Ele

  9. I wonder if Pollievre is also the guy who writes the little blurbs at the top of movie ads. You know, the ones that read: …deserves an award…”,  which, of course, is edited down from “Anyone who can sit through this mess deserves an award.”

    • We’re on the same wavelength! 

  10. Elections Canada is referring to calls which “*designed to discourage voting*, discourage voting for a particular party, or *incorrectly advise electors of changed polling locations*” as crank calls?  Crank calls?  Like “Is your refridgerator running?  You better go catch it?”  CRANK calls?  No, if any such calls of the nature astericked above exist, then election fraud has been wrought.  CBC had an interesting exploration into whether Elections Canada is capable of holding any party to account…the wording of this report tells me the answer. 

  11. this whole crap can be fixed, simply, and elegantly.

    Legislate mandatory voting.

    It’ll x-factor the vote, which is a perfect mechanism to deal with the political party sleaze merchants and bagmen.

    • Or perhaps online voting. That way, there’s no “your polling station has changed” shenanigans. Of course, online voting could lead to other problems, such as hacking, etc…

  12. There was no fraud. That is why the opposition parties are sceaming so loud hoping no one will notice the absence of evidence of wrongdoing.

    • There was no election. It was a mass hallucination created by the Liberals so they could ditch Iggy.

  13. Is there now a complaint before Elections Canada that some misconduct has “affected the final result” overall or in a particular riding?

  14. The next step will be the Liberals/NDP employing baton twirling black panthers satnding outside the polling stations

  15. A search of Responsive Marketing Group Inc brings up an interesting history.  

    This is a company that, according to Tom Flanagan, has been working with Harper’s party since about 2003. This company works with the Conservative Party’s database, a database that can identify “non supporters”.

    You can draw your own conclusions.

    Responsive Marketing Group Inc merged with Xental DM Inc. in 2010.


    Xental DM Inc was fined $500,000 for violating do-not-call rules.

    Telemarketer hit with $500,000 CRTC fine

    Xental DM Inc and Responsive Marketing Group were both connected to a charitable fundraising scheme that involved setting up charities, doing extensive fundraising and keeping most of the money. 

    Charitable empire has high costs

    Responsive Marketing Group has offices in Canada and the USA. It looks like Xental DM Inc has offices in Calgary, Edmonton and the USA. 

    Try a Google search of “Xental DM Inc” and “scam” (interesting!).

    iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. is the new name for Xental DM Inc.

  16. Royal Commission.
    Call a Royal Commission to enquire into the RoboCalls that were illegal.  There is a voice recording falsely claiming to be calling on behalf of Elections Canada, and directing voters to the wrong location to vote.  This alone is an illegal action enough to warrant a Royal Commission. 

  17. Well, if you wanted people to stop taking the as yet unreported but questionable and possibly illegal calls received around the election timeframe seriously enough to actually report them, saying that Elections Canada doesn’t believe the calls affected the outcome of the election is one way to do that.  I think it is shameful that Mr. Poilievre is now attempting to stem the mounting reactions of people who just now are becoming aware of this scandal (there are many who still have not heard of it from what I hear out and about) and reconsidering their first very natural (and very Canadian) reaction of shrugging off the occurance as a one-off accidental, strange but unimportant event.

    To not acknowledge that the context of that quote is much removed by time and events from the present is appalling.  Is there nothing this government will not stoop to in their efforts to manipulate their listeners?

    If this continues, I think concerned Conservative voters (and I am certain there are many by this point in this story) should be encouraged to put pressure on their MPs to leave the Conservative Party and sit as Independents or whatever other affiliation they believe now better fits their views.