Inside Politics

Will the government keep its promise to tighten up the rules on election robocalls?

All this excitement around today's CRTC ruling on those anonymous automated anti-Conservative phone calls placed by Guelph Liberal MP Frank Valeriote's campaign during the last election got me thinking about the robocall controversy-inspired opposition motion that was passed with the unanimous support of the House on March 12, 2012: 

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should, within six months, table amendments to the Elections Canada Act and other legislation as required that would ensure that: (a) Elections Canada investigation capabilities be strengthened, to include giving the Chief Electoral Officer the power to request all necessary documents from political parties to ensure compliance with the Elections Act; (b) all telecommunication companies that provide voter contact services during a general election must register with Elections Canada; and (c) all clients of telecommunication companies during a general election have their identity registered and verified.

By my reckoning, that six month deadline is about to expire, which means that we should expect to see those amendments when the Commons gets back to regular parliamentary business next month -- that is, unless the government has changed its mind on the need to strengthen Election Canada's investigative powers, and tighten up the rules that govern phone-based campaign tactics. (The motion in question is, after all, ultimately non-binding, despite the aforementioned unanimous support.) 

Then again, given today's comments from Conservative Party spokesperson Fred DeLorey -- who wondered aloud, via twitter, whether "other campaigns" may have "used robocalls to mislead Canadian voters," such a reversal would seem unlikely.

In any case, I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, let the countdown to the promised fall election law geekout begin! 
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