Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Woman mad over robocalls

OTTAWA—Sandra McEwing is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.
The Winnipeg mom is one of eight private citizens challenging the May, 2011 federal election results in six closely-contested ridings where someone tried to influence voters with misleading phone calls.

The civil suit goes to trial in Ottawa next month.
“I had no idea that Canadian politics was so vulnerable to such underhanded behaviour,” McEwing said yesterday after describing a phoney, automated “Elections Canada” call to her home saying her polling station had moved.
“I mean, call me crazy, but I thought we were ‘Canada the Good.’
Who sits around and comes up with ideas to trick me out of my vote? I’m just about apoplectic,” she added.
McEwing and Peggy Walsh Craig of North Bay, Ont. appeared at a news conference in Ottawa with Gary Neil, the executive director of the left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is supporting the court challenge.
Their argument, supported chiefly by a poll that tried to statistically model the incidence and impact of misleading calls, seeks to have the election of six Conservative MPs overturned and new byelections called.
The suit is parallel to—and unsupported by—an ongoing Elections Canada investigation into fraudulent robocalls.
Needless to say, lawyers for the six government MPs are hotly-contesting the suit—not least because none of the eight applicants actually failed to cast a ballot in the 2011 vote as a result of the ruse.
The applicants want to overturn federal election results “using nothing more than statistics and argument,” states the memorandum of fact filed in Federal Court this week by Conservative lawyers.
Given the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the case of Conservative MP Ted Opitz, whose close-fought 2011 election win was upheld despite proven procedural problems, the civil suit would appear to be a legal long shot.
But Walsh Craig, who also said she received a fake Elections Canada call in a riding where the Conservative MP won by just 18 votes, said there’s a more fundamental principle at stake.
“Most people think the battle for democracy was won by previous generations and that we really don’t have to do anything more about preserving democracy,” she remarked.
“I think there are significant threats in our time and in our country to democracy.”

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