OTTAWA — Fraud was definitely a factor in the rash of misleading robocalls that bedevilled voters in six federal ridings in the 2011 election, but not enough of one to justify overturning the results, a Federal Court judge has decided.
The ruling, released late Thursday, left both sides in the dispute — the Conservative party in one corner, the voters who fielded the calls in the other — claiming victory of a sort.
Though fraud was at play as a result of the robocalls, the scale didn’t justify wiping out the results of voting, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley concluded.
“The scale of the fraud has to be kept in perspective,” Mosley wrote in the decision.
“The number and location of the complaints received by Elections Canada from across Canada indicates that the voter suppression effort was geographically widespread but, apart from Guelph (Ont.), thinly scattered.”
The ruling cleared the Conservative party and its candidates of any effort to mislead voters, but said the most likely source of information used to make the misleading calls was the party’s CIMS database, accessed by “a person or persons currently unknown to this court.”
The Conservatives issued a statement noting the ruling found no evidence of wrongdoing by the party or any of the candidates or campaign teams involved in the challenge.
The six ridings in question are Vancouver Island North in British Columbia; Yukon; Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar in Saskatchewan; Elmwood-Transcona and Winnipeg South Centre in Manitoba; and Nipissing-Timiskaming in Ontario.