Conservatives move again to have robocalls suits tossed
Party urges court to dismiss lawsuits by 'professional agitators'
The Conservative Party has filed a second motion to dismiss the robocalls lawsuits filed by the left-leaning Council of Canadians, calling council chairperson Maude Barlow a "virulent critic" of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who has "orchestrated" the litigation.
"It is evident that the Council's 'business plan' is to leverage anti-Conservative sentiment in order raise money and continue to employ professional agitators like Ms. Barlow," the motion says.
The Council of Canadians is seeking to overturn the results of last year's election in seven ridings won by Conservatives, where they say voters were misdirected to phoney polling stations by mysterious live or recorded phone calls, often purporting to be from Elections Canada.
The Conservative Party's latest salvo in response accuses the council of having "an improper motive" to "damage the Conservative brand through unfounded assertions."
"The applications have been brought solely to provide the Council with a platform to criticize Conservatives, who the Council views as its enemy," the motion says.
In a tart response, Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil says, "unlike the epithets thrown at their political opponents, we aren’t being accused of being Nazi sympathizers, or terrorists, or being on the side of the child pornographers."
"I only wish the Conservatives had put as much time and effort into their investigation of the robocalls scandal as they’ve put into chastising the Council of Canadians," said Neil.
The Conservative motion, filed in Federal Court on May 22, is a second attempt to dismiss the council's case. An earlier motion said the suit was filed too late and presents no proof that the outcome in any of the seven ridings was affected by robocalls. The motions are not expected to be heard until late June.
"The Council engineered the applications," the Conservative motion says, "and its fingerprints are all over the litigation that has ensued." It describes the Council of Canadians as "an officious intermeddler" without standing to bring the case.
The Conservative motion employs the rarely used legal doctrine of "champerty and maintenance," designed to block frivolous litigation by parties with no interest in a case. In its reply, the Council of Canadians sarcastically says, "We thank the Conservative Party for highlighting…our Democracy 24-7 Legal Fund and we continue to encourage people from coast to coast to contribute to this fund to ensure Canadians’ democratic rights are upheld through these important legal challenges."
"If the Conservatives are serious about getting to the bottom of the 'robocall' affair," the council adds, "they would withdraw their absurd motions and let the Court examine the powerful evidence that has been submitted."