A lawyer for seven Conservative MPs whose 2011 election wins are being challenged in Federal Court wants to see a $250,000 deposit on costs in case the challengers lose.
Nine Canadians in seven ridings have mounted the court challenge, backed by the Council of Canadians, a regular foe of the Conservative government.
In an email sent to supporters, Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow says lawyers for the seven Conservative MPs have asked the challengers to put up $250,000 to cover the MPs' costs in case the challengers lose.
The Council of Canadians is backing nine voters who say there is evidence of voter suppression in the last federal election and that the election result should be overturned in ridings where the result was close. They say a pattern of misleading calls, both live and automated robocalls, shows a co-ordinated effort to keep Canadians away from the polls on May 2, 2011.
The news comes out of a case conference Wednesday during which the parties also discussed a request by the applicants for Elections Canada to release more information about its investigation into the calls. The election agency refused to provide the information and asked the court to decide whether it should be handed over.
"While these relentless obstructions by the Conservative Party continue to drive up legal costs, they will not dampen our resolve to defend democracy and restore voters' rights," Barlow said in the email.
The motion will be heard in Federal Court on Sept. 18, Barlow said. The court is also expected to decide that day whether Elections Canada should provide the additional information requested by Steven Shrybman, the lawyer for the applicants.
Defence costs 'significant'
A court document filed by one of the respondents and provided to CBC News by the Council of Canadians notes that the applicants put up $1,000 per application, but the court has the discretion to increase the security.
The respondents "must defend against the application and the costs of doing so will be significant," says the document, filed on behalf of Conservative MP Lawrence Toet.
The Council of Canadians has confirmed it is paying for the court challenge and in fact sought out volunteers for the court case, Toet says in the document, noting the organization has used the case as a fund-raising opportunity.
"These fundraising efforts have been successful with the Council reporting that they had raised $129,000 by mid-July, 2012. While trumpeting their successful fundraising, the Council have also been vocal about the fact that $129,000 is not nearly enough to support seven election challenges. The Council has indicated that fees and expenses for the court challenges were expected to reach $240,000 by the end of June," the document says.
A motion filed by Conservative MP Jay Aspin says the applicant in his case should have to put up $40,000 before the case is decided.
The applicants have already won a small victory in court when it ruled the case could go ahead despite a motion to dismiss filed by the Conservative MPs. The Conservatives said the case was filed too late, didn't back up the claims of the applicants and had no chance of success. The applicants responded that they brought the case as soon as they became aware of the possibility of a co-ordinated approach to the misleading phone calls.
This isn't the first court case as a result of the 2011 election. Voters in Etobicoke Centre are waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether they should go back to the polls after an Ontario Superior Court justice found in favour of former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who challenged Conservative MP Ted Opitz's win because some polling stations were missing the paper work they needed to prove those who voted were qualified to do so.
It has been just over a year since the last federal election, one that has become known almost as much for allegations of electoral fraud in Guelph, Ont., as for the way it redrew the House of Commons.<br><br> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">Investigators are now looking into calls wrongly claiming to be from Elections Canada that redirected voters to a polling station they couldn't use</a>. It's illegal both to interfere with a person's right to vote and to impersonate Elections Canada.<br><br> A year later, here's what we do know, according to court documents and information provided in interviews:<br><br> <strong><em>With files from CBC.</em></strong><br><br> (CP)
1. Probe Started Early
Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews started looking into complaints in Guelph on May 5, 2011, three days after the election that saw reports of illicit phone calls. The winning candidate in the riding, Liberal <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/10/robocalls-by-liberals-guelph_n_1336895.html" target="_hplink">Frank Valeriote, compiled a list of almost 80 names</a> of people complaining about the calls. News of the investigation didn't break until Feb. 22, 2012. (Thinkstock)
All political parties use automated robocalls and live calls to identify voter support and contact people during a campaign. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/23/racknine-robocalls-elections-canada_n_1296383.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">The campaign of Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke used RackNine</a>, a company that offers voice broadcasting services, to make legitimate robocalls to campaign supporters. The person who made the fraudulent robocalls also used RackNine. (Alamy)
3. Pierre Poutine
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/02/28/robocalls-scandal-pierre-poutine_n_1307730.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">person who made the calls used a disposable, or burner, cellphone, registered to a "Pierre Poutine."</a> The RackNine charges were paid via PayPal using prepaid credit cards, purchased at two Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Guelph. Shoppers Drug Mart doesn't keep its security camera videos long enough to see who bought the cards more than a year ago. (Alamy)
4. IP Traced
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/04/andrew-prescott-pierre-poutine-robocalls-conservative_n_1478809.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">Elections Canada traced the IP address used to access RackNine</a> on election day and send the fraudulent message. Mathews got a court order for Rogers, the company that provided the internet service to that IP address, to provide the customer information that matches that address, on March 20, 2012. (Alamy)
5. Andrew Prescott Linked To Poutine IP
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/04/andrew-prescott-pierre-poutine-robocalls-conservative_n_1478809.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">Pierre Poutine and Burke campaign worker Andrew Prescott (pictured here with Tony Clement) accessed their RackNine accounts using the same IP address</a>. On election day, they accessed their RackNine accounts from the same IP address within four minutes of each other, Mathews says in documents filed in court.
6. But Accounts Don't Match
A court document lists the billing account numbers for the customer information provided by Rogers to Mathews. <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/05/11/pol-robocalls-guelph-rogers-account-numbers.html" target="_hplink">Those accounts don't match</a> the number found on the Burke campaign's Rogers invoices submitted to Elections Canada, suggesting RackNine wasn't accessed through a computer in the Burke campaign office.
7. Misleading Calls Discussed?
Two Conservative staffers, accompanied by the party's lawyer, told Mathews they overheard <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/04/michael-sona-robocalls-pierre-poutine-guelph_n_1479400.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">Michael Sona (pictured here with Stephen Harper), another Burke campaign worker, talking about "making a misleading poll moving call."</a> Sona, who stepped down from a job in the office of Conservative MP Eve Adams when the story broke, has previously said he had nothing to do with the misleading calls.
8. Poutine Used Tory Database?
Arthur Hamilton, the Conservative Party's lawyer, told Mathews the list of phone numbers uploaded to RackNine by Pierre Poutine appeared to be a list of identified non-Conservative supporters, with data on it that was updated in <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/17/robocalls-scandal-privacy-information_n_1525197.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">CIMS, the party's database</a>, days before the election. The CBC's Terry Milewski had reported a similar pattern after sifting through complaints in 31 ridings.
9. Deluge Of Complaints
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/29/marc-mayrand-testimony-robocalls_n_1387176.html?ref=robocalls-scandal" target="_hplink">News coverage led to 40,000 people contacting Elections Canada one way or another</a> -- whether to report a misdirecting call or by signing an online petition to express concern that it had happened -- chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand told a parliamentary committee in April. There are now specific allegations in almost 200 ridings by 800 people.