Tory MP Brad Butt retracts claim he saw voter cards stolen

Conservative MP Brad Butt is stepping back from his assertion earlier this month that he saw voter information cards taken from the garbage and given to a candidate's supporters to be used by people without identification.

MP said he saw voter information cards taken from trash, used by others to vote illegally

Conservative MP Brad Butt says he 'misspoke' when he claimed that voter identification cards were being retrieved from the garbage and used by people to vote illegally. (Flickr)

Conservative MP Brad Butt is stepping back from his assertion earlier this month that he saw voter information cards taken from the garbage and given to a candidate's supporters to be used by people without identification.

The MP for the Ontario riding of Mississauga-Streetsville sits on the procedure and House affairs committee that is looking at proposed changes to Canada's election laws. One of the changes would eliminate the voter information cards sent by Elections Canada as an acceptable form of identification.

On Feb. 6, Butt described seeing the voter information cards wrongly used by others to cast ballots. 

"On mail delivery day when the voter cards are delivered to community mailboxes in apartment buildings, many of them are discarded in the garbage can or the blue box. I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID," Butt said in the House.

He repeated the story an hour later in response to a question from New Democrat MP Mike Sullivan as debate continued on C-23, the bill containing the proposed changes.

"I will relate to him something I have actually seen," Butt said.

"On the mail delivery day when voter cards are put in mailboxes, residents come home, pick them out of their boxes, and throw them in the garbage can. I have seen campaign workers follow, pick up a dozen of them afterward, and walk out. Why are they doing that? They are doing it so they can hand those cards to other people, who will then be vouched for at a voting booth and vote illegally. That is going to stop."

'I misspoke'

On Monday, Butt retracted that statement in the House.

Butt said on Twitter simply that he "misspoke."

"I misspoke during debate and corrected the record," he said. 

In an email to CBC News, Butt didn't respond to questions about what led him to believe he had seen the cards stolen.

"I think you saw that I clarified that I did not personally see it. Over the years I have heard stories about voter cards being collected in common mailrooms. That's it," Butt said.

It wasn't just on the floor of the House of Commons that Butt suggested the voter information cards were used fraudulently. He later told a similar story, this time attributing it to his 12 years as president and CEO of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, representing owners and operators of apartment buildings.

"I certainly heard anecdotally from members about voter information cards that are mailed into apartment buildings," he said at the procedure and House affairs committee on Feb. 13.

"This card is often discarded in the mailroom, in a garbage can or a blue box, as the case may be. I have heard anecdotally that other individuals have subsequently gone into those mailrooms, have grabbed those voter notification cards, presumably for a reason, and I assume it's to use those cards to vouch for an individual to vote in place of the real voter, the tenant in that unit," Butt said.

Butt told CBC News that he considers the matter closed.

"I did not see it personally and only said it in the House, not committee. I made a mistake and consider this closed. I am actually hoping we can start hearing witnesses on the bill at PROC (procedure and House affairs) if the NDP stop filibustering," he wrote.


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