Robocalls hearing to continue Friday

OTTAWA – A court hearing of a challenge of the results in six ridings from the last federal election continues today with the Tories trying to have the case tossed out.

On Thursday, a Conservative party lawyer said the threshold for overturning the results of an election ought to be exceedingly high.

Otherwise, said Arthur Hamilton, Canadian courts would be inundated with a deluge of legal challenges after future contests.

The hearing is examining the effect of misleading robocalls on the results in those ridings.

Hamilton said it speaks volumes that no Canadian voters have come forward to swear out an affidavit claiming their trips to the ballot box were thwarted by robocalls.

He notes casting a ballot is a very public activity and seems unlikely that someone who was unable to vote would have kept silent.

“Nobody should have difficulty coming and very publicly saying ‘I wanted to vote and I was stopped from voting,'” Hamilton said.

“Because that’s the type of evidence that’s being sought if somebody wants to overturn any of these six election results, it should be not at all difficult to find those people.”

Even if there were dirty tricks, such as harassing and misleading phone calls alleged to have been made during the 2011 campaign, those people determined to vote would have found a way to cast their ballots, he said.

“There is a fundamental disrespect right now for the intuitiveness of the Canadian voter,” Hamilton said.

“The Canadian electorate is very intuitive and they are very careful. They take their franchise seriously and that is why, happily, some of these ham-fisted attempts at suppression don’t work.

“I think we can have ultimate faith in the electorate that those that wish to exercise their franchise will come forward and do so, even those that get frustrated and dissuaded to another part of town.”

Eight Canadians — bankrolled by the left-leaning Council of Canadians — have launched a legal bid to overturn the results of the last federal election in six ridings. They allege a far-reaching campaign of voter-suppression tactics may have kept some people from voting, which may have had some bearing on the outcomes.

None of the eight applicants were actually prevented from voting.

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