Federal court rules that fraudulent phone calls didn’t affect election outcomes, appeal possible

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

There's been a ruling in the robocall scandal.

Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled, on Wednesday, that while phone calls were used to misdirect voters in the the last federal election, they had minimal impact on the outcome.

"I find that electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election but I am not satisfied that it has been established that the fraud affected the outcomes in the subject ridings and I decline to exercise my discretion to annul the results in those districts," he wrote according to Postmedia News.

"In reaching this conclusion, I make no finding that the Conservative Party of Canada or any CPC candidates or RMG and RackNine Inc., were directly involved in any campaign to mislead voters.

"I am satisfied, however, that the most likely source of the information used to make the misleading calls was the CIMS database maintained and controlled by the CPC, accessed for that purpose by a person or persons currently unknown to this court."

Mosley also chided Tory MPs and the Conservative Party for their lack of cooperation during the investigative portion of the court proceedings.

"These proceedings have had partisan overtones from the outset. That was particularly evident in the submissions of the respondent MPs," he wrote.

"In reviewing the procedural history and the evidence and considering the arguments advanced by the parties at the hearing, it has seemed to me that the applicants sought to achieve and hold the high ground of promoting the integrity of the electoral process while the respondent MPs engaged in trench warfare in an effort to prevent this case from coming to a hearing on the merits. So, it should come as no surprise that."

[ Related: Is it time for an official inquiry into the robocall scandal? ]

The court action was brought forward by the left-leaning Council of Canadians who argued that misleading calls to voters may have skewed the election outcome in at least six ridings won narrowly by Tory candidates.

Garry Neil, Executive Director of the group, said that there was some good news in the judge's ruling.

"This is a victory for the individual applicants, for the thousands of donors who stepped up to pay their legal bills, and for Canadian democracy," he said in a statement.

"A senior Federal Court judge found that the election was marred by widespread fraudulent activities, not just in Guelph but across the country."

The statement also noted that the Council is "consulting with the applicants and lawyers as they consider an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."

"If these consultations conclude there is a chance the Supreme Court could overturn the Conservative MPs’ narrow victories, the Council would pay the necessary legal fees."

[ Related: Ex-Conservative staffer Michael Sona charged for his role in robocall affair ]

The Conservative Party is also considering this a victory of sorts.

Prime Minister Harper released this statement on Friday morning:

Yesterday, the Federal Court threw out the Council of Canadians attempt to overturn the election results in six ridings won by Conservatives in 2011.

There was no wrongdoing by the Conservative Party or any of the candidates or campaign teams targeted by these applications, and the court noted that not a single voter was produced to testify that they were prevented from voting due to alleged voter suppression.

The Council of Canadians court challenge was a transparent attempt to overturn certified election results simply because this activist group didn't like them.

I am incredibly proud of every single member of our team that contributed to our win in 2011.

Meanwhile, Elections Canada is continuing its investigation into misleading automated calls in Guelph. So far they've only laid one charge against one individual, that being Michael Sona, who served as an aide to losing Conservative candidate Marty Burke.

Sona has maintained his innocence.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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