Tyee Reporter Part of Election Fraud Talk Tonight in Victoria

A federal vote is on the horizon. Time to bone up on election issues.

By Jane Armstrong 28 Jan 2015 |

Jane Armstrong is the editor in chief of The Tyee.

If you were paying attention to voter issues in the 2011 election, you'll no doubt recall the robocall scandal. In the end, a Tory staffer was convicted of using automated calls to send voters in Guelph, Ontario to the wrong polling stations.

The Conservative party has always insisted that it played no role in the calls, but a federal judge ruled that fraud took place in "ridings across the country" and that the party's voter identification database was likely used to make the calls, though he found no evidence that the party "approved or condoned" the use of the database.

But before the robocall scandal there were allegations of voting irregularities in British Columbia -- in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands to be exact. That was during the 2008 election, and the Tyee's legislative bureau chief Andrew MacLeod broke most of those stories.

MacLeod joins a panel tonight at the Victoria Event Centre to discuss voter fraud in Canada. The event also includes a presentation from Ottawa filmmaker Peter Smoczynski, whose documentary in progress, Election Day in Canada, takes a look at voter suppression in Canada.

Other panel participants include Micheal Vonn of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, former Saanich-Gulf Islands Liberal candidate Briony Penn, and Simon Fraser University professor Anke Kessler. You can follow the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #ElxnFraud.

The event is sold out, but will be webcast to the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. You can find out more here.

MacLeod said it's important to keep the spotlight on the issue of voter suppression.

"Odd things went on in Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2008," he said. "We documented abuses of Canada's elections laws and at least three complaints were made to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, but it was never apparent that a full investigation was undertaken. There were no consequences, and in the absence of consequences, several sources observed the door was wide open to future abuses. That seems to have been borne out with the robocalls in the 2011 election, this time in other ridings."

MacLeod added: "Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2008 was the testing ground for dirty election tricks. Nobody was ever held to account."  [Tyee]

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