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Natural Resources Joe Oliver speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Feb. 27, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Natural Resources Joe Oliver speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Feb. 27, 2012. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Minister defends 'fair' campaign amid voter-registration furor Add to ...

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says he'll co-operate with any Elections Canada probe into what he says was a clean campaign in his Toronto riding.

Mr. Oliver said he is not aware of any voter registration irregularities and has not been contacted by Elections Canada investigators.

“Yesterday was the first I heard about,” he said Thursday after giving a luncheon speech to an oil and gas association in St. John's.

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Mr. Oliver was asked whether he would hand over campaign records, phone logs and correspondence if requested.

“If Elections Canada asked for material of course we're entirely open to do that,” he said. “We welcome any investigation. I don't know whether it's needed or not, quite frankly, because it's up to Elections Canada to make sure the forms are filled out. That's their job.”

The minister was responding to a CBC report that a wave of at least 2,700 applications for late registration to vote in his riding of Eglinton-Lawrence included some false or inaccurate addresses.

Mr. Oliver defeated former Liberal MP Joe Volpe by more than 4,000 votes in last year's election.

He said he's proud that his campaign's efforts to increase voter turnout worked, citing an increase of more than 5,000 ballots cast.

“There was a fair election conducted. And I think this attempt to try to cast aspersions on it is rather unsavoury.”

Mr. Volpe's lawyer, Antonio Pascale, says he wants Elections Canada to investigate.

It's not, as Mr. Oliver has suggested, a question of sour grapes or sore losers, Mr. Pascale said Thursday in an interview.

“Here we are, we're a country that prides itself on its democracy – and so we should. We'll send out our own international scrutineers in other countries to make sure that elections are properly conducted. And I think it's important that we make sure that happens in our own country.”

Mr. Pascale said he reported to Elections Canada last April harassing and suspicious phone calls that were made to Liberal supporters in the midst of the campaign.

Elections Canada responded that it only investigates if there are clear signs of intimidation or false pretence.

John Enright, a spokesman for Elections Canada, said Thursday that an investigation into 31,000 contacts regarding the last federal campaign is ongoing but that no specific details are being released.

“We're not confirming any ridings at all. So unfortunately I can't offer you any more than that.”

He also stressed that it's not yet clear what proportion of those 31,000 contacts are actually complaints.

An Elections Canada investigation in Guelph, Ont., into voter complaints about fraudulent “robo-calls” on election day has now expanded to other parts of the country.

Several voters have said they received late-night automated calls purportedly from Liberal candidates, or calls claiming to be from Elections Canada that directed them to the wrong polling station.

Elections Canada reacted to the growing scandal earlier this week by posting a complaint document online where those who believe they may have received a fraudulent phone call during the spring 2011 campaign can state their case.

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