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A woman enters an advanced polling station in Montreal Friday, April 22, 2011. Canadians will vote in a federal election on May 2, 2011. (Graham Hughes/Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
A woman enters an advanced polling station in Montreal Friday, April 22, 2011. Canadians will vote in a federal election on May 2, 2011. (Graham Hughes/Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Election Canada's robo-call probe relies on ex-Mounties Add to ...

The Commissioner of Elections is relying on a number of ex-Mounties as part of its probe into allegations of widespread phone-related irregularities in the last election.

Allan Mathews, the lead investigator into controversial robo-calls in the Ontario riding of Guelph last year, was a key member of the Mounties’ Airbus probe in the 1990s. A mid-ranking officer at the time, Mr. Mathews wrote up search warrants and headed sensitive raids in the hunt for evidence of political kickbacks. No charges were ever laid.

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Sources said at least two more retired RCMP officers now work for the Commissioner of Elections, which is the in-house office that investigates complaints received by Elections Canada. Reached at the office, the former Mounties refused to comment on the ongoing probes this week.

The Commissioner of Elections receives funding and hires investigators based on the volume of complaints, in the same way that Elections Canada’s funding increases or decreases based on the number of by-elections and general elections in a given year. As such, Elections Canada said Commissioner of Elections William Corbett has “the resources required to do his job.”

Elections Canada does not comment on its investigations and refuses to confirm or deny any element of its probes in a bid to stay out of the political process.

As a result, it is impossible to state exactly the number of ongoing investigations, except for the one in Guelph in which search warrants have been made public, laying out evidence that robo-calls were used to direct voters to the wrong voting station.

The opposition parties have listed other problems – including harassing phone calls – in more than 40 ridings across Canada, some of which were at the centre of tight races on election day.

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