POLITICS

Group who took Tories to court accused of rabble-rousing over robocalls

05/24/2012 06:10 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - The Council of Canadians is being accused of "stirring up strife" for asking the Federal Court to review the election results in a handful of tightly contested ridings.

The accusation is levelled in new court filings that say the group is more concerned with attacking the Conservatives and raising money than getting to the bottom of the so-called robocalls affair.

Conservative party lawyers called the council's conduct improper, unseemly and a clear abuse of the court's process.

The council has asked the Federal Court to review the May 2011 election results in seven ridings where Conservative MPs narrowly won their seats.

The council alleges misleading or harassing phone calls in those ridings kept some people from voting and may have affected the outcomes.

In separate documents filed earlier this week, the seven Conservative MPs targeted in the council's court action asked the court to toss out the request to review the results in their ridings.

The council posted some of the latest Conservative court filings on its website Thursday. The entire Tory motion is said to be more than 750 pages long.

The law lets voters legally challenge the results in their ridings. If a judge finds anything that would have changed the outcome, a new byelection can be ordered.

Such decisions are extremely rare. But last week, an Ontario judge ruled that enough suspect votes were cast due to clerical errors to warrant overturning last year's election result in a Toronto riding, where Conservative MP Ted Opitz beat Liberal Borys Wrzesnewsky by a mere 26 votes.

If the ruling stands, a byelection will have to be called in Etobicoke Centre.

But the Conservative lawyers accuse the council of trying to cash in on the robocalls affair.

"It is evident that the Council's 'business plan' is to leverage anti-Conservative sentiment in order raise money and continue to employ professional agitators like (national chair Maude) Barlow," the document says.