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Elections Canada takes some positive steps, 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 Rabble.ca on March 16, 2012 and in the Epoch Times on March 24, 2012 and in the Hill Times on March 26, 2012

Elections Canada's disclosure that it has received 700 complaints about false phone calls during the 2011 federal election, its commitment to issue a public report once its investigations are completed, and the Chief Electoral Officer's willingness to explain to a parliamentary committee how it handles complaints, are all steps forward.


However, other steps must be taken to ensure Canada's election law is enforced fairly, properly and effectively.


Elections Canada's report on the false phone calls must include a chart with information about the nature of each complaint; whether, how and when each complaint was investigated; what evidence was found; what the conclusions were, and; what enforcement actions were taken (if any).


This same detailed information must be disclosed about the 1,281 complaints Elections Canada received during the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections, and about the 1,003 complaints filed during the 2011 election (once the investigation of these complaints is completed), and about any complaints filed in between elections since 2004.  Elections Canada has never disclosed any information about these complaints and what it did with each complaint.


There is no law that says this information cannot be disclosed, but the Canada Elections Act must also be changed to clearly require Elections Canada to disclose this information about each complaint in the future.  Voters have a right to know this information, and need to know it to ensure federal elections are fair.


If Elections Canada refuses to disclose this key information, Canadians have a right to assume that it 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.

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