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Elections chief eyes regulating robo-calls as complaints top 1,100

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand waits to testify before the Commons procedure and House affairs committee in Ottawa on March 29, 2012.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

The man in charge of Canada's federal elections says his agency is considering urging MPs to regulate robo-calls made to voters during political campaigns.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand also disclosed the number of specific complaints about harassing and misleading calls to voters during the 2011 federal election has now surpassed 1,100.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections has been probing fraudulent robo-calls made to Guelph, Ont., voters last year as well as complaints of other telephone chicanery across about 200 ridings.

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Mr. Mayrand was appearing before the Commons committee on procedure and House affairs and answering questions about his agency's spending plans.

He cautioned MPs however that his robo-calls investigation is far from finished.

Mr. Mayrand had committed to return to the committee in June to update MPs on the robo-calls investigation but Tuesday he suggested it would be too soon.

"While I am available ... I believe an appearance at this time would be premature as it is unlikely that I will be in a position to provide any additional information on the investigation."

He warned it could be up to 10 months – March 31, 2013 – before he issued a report on misleading calls including automated calls.

That doesn't preclude Mr. Mayrand from handing files over to Ottawa's Director of Public Prosecutions at any time if he thinks there is sufficient evidence to warrant charges under Canadian law.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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