The Liberal Party is boasting that it has sent information about its robo-calls in last year’s campaign to Elections Canada and is calling on the Conservative Party to do the same.
In a news release Tuesday, the Liberals said they have released the scripts and recordings of their automated phone messages, adding to the financial information that has already been provided to Elections Canada.
“Liberals are committed to co-operating with this investigation,” Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said of the current probe in alleged electoral fraud in the last election. “We are setting the standard for openness and transparency, and we expect that all other political parties will follow suit.”
But speaking to reporters later, Mr. Rae said the Liberal Party did not pro-actively provide material such as the recording of a robo-call in the riding of Guelph that attacked Conservative candidate Marty Burke for his pro-life stance.
“That was a local call that doesn’t have much to do with the national campaign,” he said.
The move comes as speculation continues to swirl about the identity of the authors of robo-calls in the Ontario riding of Guelph that directed voters to the wrong polling station last spring.
A fake video confession was posted on YouTube in which someone falsely claiming to be former Conservative staffer Michael Sona took the fall for the infractions to the Elections Act. Sources who know Mr. Sona told The Globe it was not him on the video and the person making the false confession is obviously not the same Mr. Sona whose pictures adorn the Internet in the company of a number of senior Conservative ministers.
The Liberals are arguing that the Guelph campaign is only the tip of the iceberg and that dozens of other ridings were hit by similar fraudulent phone calls.
“Tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted Elections Canada about suspicious activity they witnessed or experienced during the last election, from so-called robo-calls misdirecting people to incorrect or non-existent polling stations, like in Guelph, Nipissing-Timiskaming, and Kitchener-Conestoga; to live, person-to-person calls misdirecting voters, such as in London West, Kingston and the Islands and St. Catharines,” Mr. Rae said.
“These calls did not originate with the Liberal Party of Canada. If the Conservatives truly have nothing to hide, they would follow the lead of the Liberal Party and supply their documentation on the robo-calls they conducted to Elections Canada immediately.”
However, Elections Canada said Monday that the majority of the 31,000 complaints it has received about last year’s elections were not related to specific phone calls, but rather expressed concern about the overall controversy.
The Conservatives are trying to turn the tables on opposition attacks over fraudulent robo-calls in Guelph by hammering the Liberals over automated calls made by Mr. Valeriote, the Grit candidate, during the 2011 campaign.
The anti-Conservative robo-call in Guelph surfaced at the end of last week and the Liberals have publicly acknowledged they were behind it. But the recorded message does not tell listeners it was funded by the Valeriote campaign.
“The member for Guelph paid for illegal robo-calls that concealed the fact that calls came from his Liberal campaign,” Dean Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister alleged in the Commons.
“They broke the CRTC regulations; they broke Elections Canada laws.”