Politics

Robocalls tell voters to head to the polls a day late

Elections Canada says it has received reports of misleading robocalls made to voters suggesting voting actually takes place on Tuesday — the day after election day.

Misleading robocalls reported in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Elections Canada confirms

Elections Canada has received reports of robocalls giving voters incorrect information about when to vote. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Elections Canada says it has received reports of misleading robocalls made to voters suggesting voting actually takes place on Tuesday — the day after election day.

"There have been some reports of people receiving misleading robocalls in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick," said Elections Canada spokesperson Nathalie de Montigny.

CBC News has been able to trace some of the calls to groups that are part of the Canada Strong and Proud network, a third-party group that opposes carbon taxes.

"We have received reports about some electors receiving robocalls indicating that Election Day is on a date other than today. We have no indication these calls are widespread," said de Montigny.

She said it is illegal to "wilfully misdirect electors in order to prevent them from voting."

According to Chris Russell, one of the directors of Canada Strong and Proud, the calls were a mistake.

"The vendor had left over calls that stopped when they were supposed to stop on Sunday, but they turned on the remaining small percentage of the calls today," he wrote in an email to CBC News.

"We have called everyone who got the message and corrected it."

Canada Strong and Proud is not affiliated with Canada Proud, another third-party advertiser which was launched by former Conservative staffer Jeff Ballingall. Canada Proud has not engaged in any robocalling or robotexts during the election campaign, according to Ballingall.

Greg Fergus, the Liberal candidate in Hull-Aylmer, a riding in Gatineau, Que., told CBC News that a supporter called his office on Sunday and reported she'd received a robocall message.

The call encouraged people to "vote via their conscience" and informed the supporter voting would take place on Tuesday, Oct. 22, said Fergus.

"To be fair, they could've said voting is the day after tomorrow, something of that sort," he said. "But she was clearly left with [the] impression that ... the voting was happening, or they were claiming the vote was happening, on the 22nd, which of course, it isn't."

Fergus said his team called the number the supporter provided and traced the call back to Quebec Fier, which is part of the Canada Strong and Proud network.

Fergus said his team reported the call to Elections Canada immediately.

Tommy Desfossés, who works on Fergus's campaign, said that the woman was "unequivocal" that the call said voting would take place on Oct. 22 and that she'd received the call Sunday afternoon. He also said Elections Canada told him the agency had gotten a report of another, similar robocall in the riding.

Fergus posted a message on his Facebook page on Sunday night about robocalls.

"Dear Friends – our campaign has been notified by some residents about robocalls giving people wrong information. Please note that Elections Canada does not send out robocalls. Election Day is ... October 21 between 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m."

Brad McKnight, who lives in Fredericton, told CBC News he received a misleading robocall just after 10 a.m. Monday from a group that said voting day was "tomorrow."

"It just said they're urging me to vote with my conscience and that this is a very important election, and it wasn't really pushing any political agenda," said McKnight. "But it caught me off guard at the end because they said, I'm trying to remember the exact wording, but essentially, 'We urge you to vote tomorrow.'"

He provided CBC News with a screenshot showing the time the call was made to his phone. When CBC called the number in the screenshot, it went to a voicemail message for a group that calls itself Proudly New Brunswick.

McKnight said he didn't record the call.

CBC News left a message for Proudly New Brunswick, which wasn't immediately returned.

Proudly New Brunswick is affiliated with Canada Strong and Proud.

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