Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is calling allegations that Elections Canada rules were violated in his riding during the last election "unsavoury," and says he will co-operate with any investigation into the matter.
"We conducted a completely clean campaign in Eglinton-Lawrence. I was very pleased that we won by over 4,000 votes," Oliver told reporters at an event in St. John's on Thursday. "I have no idea what this is about."
Oliver said he first learned about the allegations Wednesday, when CBC News reported on evidence that unregistered voters got on the voters' list in Oliver's Toronto riding without providing an address, in violation of Elections Canada rules.
To date, Oliver says Elections Canada has not contacted him or his campaign officials about any alleged irregularities.
"There was a fair election conducted and I think this attempt to try to cast aspersions on it is rather unsavoury," Oliver said.
Oliver's opponent, Joe Volpe, was one of the Liberal veterans to lose his seat in last year’s election.
Volpe was also the first to claim there were misleading Conservative calls to his supporters, allegedly trying to drive down his vote count. Elections Canada dismissed the Volpe campaign's complaint in February.
Asked earlier this week about allegations of dirty tricks in the riding during the election, Oliver called Volpe a “sore loser” and said there was no vote suppression by his side.
“Our objective was to increase voter turnout, and in that we succeeded admirably,” Oliver said.
But documents obtained by CBC News show a late influx of unregistered voters in the riding who got on the voters' list without giving any address. The law requires unregistered voters to provide both a present and former address when filling out a late registration form at a polling station.
A stack of late registration forms shows many provided no address, which is required by the elections law. Others have bogus addresses — a UPS store in one case, a Scotiabank branch in another.
Volpe declined to talk about the voter registration forms, but Liberal campaign lawyer Tony Pascale said he wants Elections Canada to investigate.
“There were an inordinately high number of voters registering who were not on the voters' list, in order to cast ballots,” Pascale said in an interview Wednesday.
Oliver said the increase in voter turnout in his riding was the result of hard work and not dirty tricks. “We increased the voter turnout by 5,000 votes,” Oliver said Wednesday.
CBC News has learned there were at least 2,700 late registrations in Eglinton-Lawrence, but Elections Canada declined a request to produce them, so it is unclear how many had phoney addresses, or none at all. Elections Canada said Thursday that the documents are under seal and available only to a judge.
"Elections Canada is responsible for voter registration, not political parties," Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal told the House of Commons when the NDP raised the matter during Thursday's question period.
"Given the history of the person making the allegations, Elections Canada may want to take a very close look into this matter," Uppal said.
During the election, Volpe fired one of his campaign workers for removing Green Party pamphlets from mailboxes.
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