Conservatives deny party focus of robocalls probe
Postmedia report says Elections Canada investigating access to party's internal database
Two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, election, an investigation into fraudulent robocalls has moved to Conservative headquarters, according to a media report.
Postmedia reported Monday night that Elections Canada investigators are looking at the Conservative Party's internal database to see who downloaded a list of non-supporters in Guelph. The report says the database seems to be missing entries that could identify who accessed the list.
Fred Delorey, a spokesman for the Conservative Party, pointed to an email that went to party supporters saying the report isn't true.
"Contrary to media reports, the Conservative Party of Canada is not under investigation for what went on in Guelph," the email said.
"All calls from the national campaign to RackNine were to set up legitimate calls, be it announcements for events or get out the vote purposes."
The party's lawyer also contradicted media reports that said he was leading an internal party investigation. Arthur Hamilton told CBC News that he is not conducting an investigation and has not conducted an investigation into the calls.
Last year, phone calls claiming to be on behalf of Elections Canada directed some voters in Guelph, Ont., to the wrong polling station. It's illegal under the Elections Act to impersonate Elections Canada and to interfere with somebody's right to vote. The election agency launched an investigation days after.
Once news of the investigation emerged in February, voters in other ridings started logging complaints. Elections Canada now has 800 confirmed complaints in 200 ridings. The CBC's Terry Milewski has reported a pattern of phone calls in which voters identified as not supporting the Conservatives were targeted with robocalls or live calls directing them to the wrong polling stations.
Conservative officials have suggested the purposely misleading calls were limited to Guelph, blaming incorrect database entries for calls outside the riding.
A former campaign staffer for losing Conservative candidate Marty Burke left his job on Parliament Hill soon after the first public report of the investigation in Guelph, though he later denied any connection and said he left his job because it was a distraction from his work.
Calls traced to Conservative staffers
Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews traced the misleading robocalls to Racknine, an Edmonton company that provides voice broadcasting services. Using Racknine's phone records, Mathews traced nine calls to the company to two Conservative staffers in Ottawa, Rebecca Rogers and Chris Rougier.
Rogers worked at the party's campaign headquarters during the campaign. There were eight calls from her phone to Racknine on April 30, 2011.
There was one call from Rougier's phone to Racknine on May 1, 2011.
Robocalls are a campaign tool used by all major political parties in Canada. Racknine provided legitimate services to a number of Conservative candidates. Company owner Matt Meier denies any wrongdoing and says he's co-operating with Elections Canada's Guelph investigation by turning over call records.
Delorey has said repeatedly that the party is giving Elections Canada any information the investigators require, telling CBC News in March that the party offered to assist the election agency.
"That includes handing over any documents or records that may assist them. We will not comment on specifics as we do not want to compromise any part of the investigation," Delorey said.
A spokesman for Elections Canada wouldn't comment on the investigation.
Asked when the agency expects to report on the complaints associated with the 2011 election campaign, John Enright pointed to chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand's March 29 committee appearance.
"I intend to submit a report to Parliament within a year" of the committee appearance, Mayrand told MPs.
- This story has been edited from an earlier version that incorrectly stated Rebecca Rogers was on the Conservatives' campaign tour. In fact, Rogers worked at the party's campaign headquarters. The story also incorrectly stated that Chris Rougier worked in IT services for the party.Apr 17, 2012 4:48 PM ET