Tuesday, March 27, 2012

7 Robocon lawsuits filed

The latest from McMaher: The Council of Canadians has launched legal challenges of May federal election results in seven ridings, on behalf of electors living in those ridings. The ridings are: Don Valley East (Lib Ratansi defeated by Con, 890 votes), Winnipeg South Centre (Lib Neville defeated by Con, 722 votes), Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar (Con Block won by 538 votes), Vancouver Island North (Con Duncan won by 1827 votes), Yukon (Lib Bagnell defeated by Con by 132 votes), Nipissing-Timiskaming (Lib Rota defeated by Con by 18 votes), Elmwood-Transcona (Con Toet defeated NDP incumbent Maloway by 300 votes). All won by Conservatives. Their rationale for choosing these ridings:
The ridings involved in Council of Canadians cases were chosen because electors came forward and the margins of victory were comparatively small, meaning there is a reasonable basis to believe the alleged irregularities changed the result, Shrybman said.

"We think we have some good evidence about how effective robocalling is but on our evidence, a 6,000-vote margin would be hard to overcome."
The proceedings are under section 524 of the Elections Act (and see sections following on further procedures):
524. (1) Any elector who was eligible to vote in an electoral district, and any candidate in an electoral district, may, by application to a competent court, contest the election in that electoral district on the grounds that
(b) there were irregularities, fraud or corrupt or illegal practices that affected the result of the election.
So, they have filed these applications within the 30 day limitation period. The application procedure is less cumbersome, time-wise and in terms of procedural burdens, than a trial, so this process could be more expeditious than what we're used to in recent federal legal adventures like in-and-out.

Note that under s. 526, the applicants have to serve the Attorney General of Canada (Nicholson) with the applications and the A.G. is entitled to take part in the proceedings (529). Other parties who can participate in the proceedings are named in 526, the Chief Electoral Officer, candidates in the riding, and the returning officer in the riding.

A possibility that the lawsuits offer is court ordered production of phone records or other documents:
The organization hopes that it can use its lawsuit to discover the volume of deceptive or fraudulent calls in other ridings, by convincing a judge to order phone carriers to turn over records showing how many calls were placed into each riding from numbers associated with suspicious calls.
That possibility might penetrate some walls. RMG, for example, was a listed expense for four of the Conservative candidates in ridings above: Vancouver Island North, Yukon, Elmwood-Transcona, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar.

Robocon is not going away any time soon...