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Elections Canada budget cut despite rampant voting errors

Prime Minister Stephen Harper rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday May 1, 2013.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Harper government is under fire for cutting Elections Canada's budget even as the agency struggles to address rampant procedural errors and widespread allegations of cheating during the last federal vote.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says the 8 per cent cut to the election watchdog's 2013 budget is symptomatic of a government that has no respect for democratic institutions.

He accuses the Conservatives of showing a consistent willingness to cheat during elections – citing the so-called in-and-out affair and the robocall scandal.

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says the budget cut is worrying and part of a pattern by Conservatives to discourage people from taking part in the democratic process.

However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will shortly introduce legislation aimed at helping Elections Canada crack down on abuse, such as the thousands of misleading, automated phone calls that directed voters to the wrong polling stations in 2011.

He says it will also incorporate changes in response to a report, released Tuesday, which found an average of 500 serious procedural errors were made by polling officials in each riding in the 2011 election.

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