Vancouver robocall protesters demand public inquiry
'Biggest fundamental disregard of democracy'
Demonstrators marched through downtown Vancouver Saturday in protest of the robocall scandal.
Carrying placards and flags, chanting slogans and following police on motorcycles, a modest number of demonstrators that included members of Parliament, union leaders and average citizens marched to a prominent war memorial from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
"There isn't a more important issue than this in Canada right now," said rally organizer Sarah Beuhler, with OpenMedia.ca.
"We can fight on every issue but if we can't trust the ballot box this is going to turn into something very shortly that isn't Canada."
Representatives from the NDP and the Liberals urged whoever is responsible to come forward, as did Vancouver City Coun. Adriane Carr.
"This is the biggest fundamental disregard of democracy I have seen in this country," she said. "We are talking about illegal activity."
"This is something that is unheard of in this country, and I think what we should be most concerned about is that American dirty politics has now come to Canada," Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies said.
Protesters were also collecting signatures for a petition that calls for a public inquiry into the robocall scandal. As of Saturday morning, more than 37,000 signatures had been collected.
Community reaction to Vancouver protests for robocall inquiry.
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"I think people are really shocked," said Jamie Biggar with Leadnow.ca, the group behind the petition. "Systemic election fraud is a different thing — people are really concerned about the integrity of Canadian democracy."
Biggar said every time a new signature is added, a copy is sent to the leaders of all the federal political parties, Elections Canada and the RCMP.
On Friday, Elections Canada spokesman John Enright confirmed that more than 31,000 phone calls, letters and emails had been received in recent days as a result of MPs and political parties calling on the public to send information to the agency.
The reports began to flood in after it was revealed that Elections Canada was investigating an incident in Guelph, Ontario, of voters being told to go to polls that didn't exist.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has denied the Conservative Party was behind the calls, telling the House of Commons that any such suggestions were nothing but a "smear campaign" by the opposition. He has tried to put the blame on the Liberals, who have also denied responsibility.
CBC News has been told about suspicious calls in nine B.C. ridings:
- Burnaby-New Westminster.
- New Westminster-Coquitlam.
- North Vancouver.
- Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission.
- Prince George-Peace River.
- Saanich-Gulf Islands.
- Vancouver Quadra.
- Vancouver South.
With files from The Canadian Press