POLITICS

Guelph robocall victims ask Elections Canada to reopen case

07/17/2015 05:31 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
A group of Guelph residents are calling on Elections Canada to reopen its investigation into the robocalls controversy of 2011, saying that the case remains an unsolved crime.

Twenty-nine individuals who say they received fraudulent phone calls during the last federal election have signed a letter, addressed to country's chief electoral officer, asking Elections Canada to identify "those responsible for the misuse of our personal information."

"Even though this happened four years ago, I see it as very relevant today," says Art Kilgour, one of the signatories on the letter. "We've got an upcoming election and...there's still so much that was left unresolved."

Group says original investigation was incomplete

Kilgour says the group has done its best to put forward a legal case for why the investigation should be reopened. 

Ian Flett, a lawyer with Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation, helped the group form its legal case. 

He says the robocalls controversy involved the misuse of the voters' list and the impersonation of an Elections Canada official, both recognized offenses under the Canada Elections Act.

"Those were never properly understood and have not been fully investigated as far as we can tell," he says. "At the end of the day, we're not confident that [Elections Canada has] asked the tough questions." 

On polling day, May 2, 2011, hundreds of calls purporting to be from Elections Canada and giving erroneous poll information were made in the riding of Guelph. 

A Federal Court judge eventually concluded that fraud was a factor in the robocalls, and that the Conservative party database known as the Constituency Information Management System, or CIMS, was likely the source of the contact information used.

Former Conservative staffer Michael Sona was eventually charged in connection to the robocalls controversy; however, the judge presiding over the case said that he believed Sona did not work alone. 

Questions remain ahead of October federal election

Guelph resident Susan Watson attended the Michael Sona trial and says she's uncomfortable with the thought that some of the people responsible for the robocalls controversy could still be "at large."

"We know that there has been a breach of the Conservative database and that information from the list of electors was used to carry out this crime. So, now we're going into another election. If this hasn't even been addressed from the last election, how can people be confident that their personal information is not going to be abused again?" she said.

Although she did not sign the letter that has been sent to Elections Canada, Watson hopes it will elicit a response from the agency.

Agency says all information has been made public

In an email statement, Elections Canada says its office has conducted two investigations into the use of automated calls during the 2011 federal election.

"Both investigations involving robocalls were investigated as fully and thoroughly as the investigative tools available to the Commissioner and his staff would allow," the email reads. 

"That said, should new credible information be uncovered or disclosed to us, we will consider it fully and take all appropriate action."

However, Elections Canada says that any decision to reopen its investigation into the robocalls controversy will not be made public.