Lately, a lot of allegations have been made that there were election irregularities and some outright crimes committed in the 2011 election. What we do not know is who was responsible.
But we may be dealing with a serial offender, or offenders. When one thinks about the election skulduggery of the last six years, it is clear that Canada does a poor job of getting to the bottom of some serious crimes.
Here's a short list of the ones that still bother me. They remain unsolved.
- RCMP interference in the 2006 election. (Remember Zaccardelli issuing a press release about looking into NDP charges that the Liberals had leaked details about the income trust taxation issue? There was nothing to it, but it arguably changed the outcome of the election.) Issuing a press release in an election campaign was a violation of RCMP normal practice. Naming a finance minister in the release was unheard of. The Public Complaints Commission for the RCMP, under its director Paul Kennedy, tried to question former RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli. Zaccardelli refused to be questioned and Kennedy lacked subpoena powers. No one knows if there was any political involvement, inducement, or pay-off involved. Zaccardelli is now a senior Interpol officer in Lyon, France.
- How hard did the Conservatives try to bring down the Martin government in spring 2005? Did the effort include the offer of a million dollar life insurance policy to Chuck Cadman? It was alleged, there was a tape. What happened to the investigation? If it happened, it was illegal.
- The Conservative campaign in the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in 2008. Courageous MP Bill Casey had been expelled from the Conservative caucus for voting against the 2008 budget which violated the contract with N.S., known as the "Atlantic Accord." In 2008, Casey ran as an Independent. The Conservative candidate Joel Bernard left Stockwell Day's office to challenge him. (In an interesting sidebar, the entire Conservative riding association insisted that Bill Casey was their candidate. The Conservative Party fired the whole of the local executive and appointed a secret group to chose their candidate.) Casey was re-elected handily. After the election, Casey learned that Conservatives had gone to the RCMP and alleged that Casey had embezzled funds from the Conservative riding association. There was no truth to such charges, but it also emerged that efforts had been made to peddle the story to the local media during the election. Media did not cover it because Casey's reputation for integrity made it too implausible to treat seriously. But making unsubstantiated allegations and wasting RCMP resources were themselves possibly criminal acts.
- In 2008, well-documented robocalls were made into the riding I now hold -- Saanich-Gulf Islands. There are many details of this case in my previous blogs. It was clearly illegal. The automated calls claimed to be from the NDP and demonstrably were not. The home fax line of the NDP riding association president had been "spoofed." (So that his number appeared to be the source of the calls.) Calls were made that urged citizens to vote for the NDP candidate who had withdrawn from the race. The robocalls may well have changed the outcome of the election. Yet Elections Canada dropped the case and ruled no laws had been broken.
- Were Larry Smith and Fabian Manning given any promises that if they left the Senate to run for a Commons seat in 2011, and were to lose, they would be re-appointed to the Senate? Both Conservative senators vied for a seat, one in Montreal, the other in Newfoundland. Both lost and were re-appointed to the Senate within weeks of the May 2, 2011 election. Democracy Watch demanded an investigation as, if such a promise was made, it violated the Criminal Code.
Add these to the spate of calls in 2011 designed to misdirect voters to non-existent polling places, the allegations of a secret Conservative bank account in Vaughn. Add to that the legal, but unethical, use of "voter suppression" techniques -- attack ads, writ periods at the legal minimum length, disgusting behaviour in the House of Commons -- and you have a toxic recipe for poisoning democracy.
Canadians must not allow allegations of serious election crimes to be swept under the carpet once again. It may that the guilty party is a "win at all costs" attitude; an acceptance of the morally bankrupt idea that anything goes and the only sin is getting caught.
We need to know and we need to stop it.