Watchdog aims to wrap robocalls investigation by the spring

The chief enforcer of Canada’s election laws hopes to conclude an investigation into misleading robocalls during the 2011 federal campaign by next spring.

OTTAWA — The chief enforcer of Canada’s election laws hopes to conclude an investigation into misleading robocalls during the 2011 federal campaign by next spring.

In his first annual report, elections commissioner Yves Cote said he’s aiming to finalize the investigation before March 31, 2014.

Cote also revealed that he’s been given additional resources to conduct investigations. But he’s also calling for changes to the Canada Elections Act to give him more power to pursue investigations into serious violations and to deal more quickly with minor regulatory infractions.

Cote is supported by an investigations directorate, which comprised six full-time employees in 2012-13: a director of investigations, three senior investigators, one paralegal and one administrative assistant.

However, he can at any time draw money from the government’s consolidated revenue fund to pay for additional non-permanent resources required to conduct investigations.

In 2012-13, Cote hired an additional seven investigators, one paralegal and two “enquiries officers,” at a cost of almost $850,000, the report says.

For the current year, he’s been given resources to hire three additional permanent, full-time investigators and a second paralegal.

One person — Michael Sona, a junior staffer on the Conservative candidate’s campaign — has been charged in connection with automated calls in the Ontario riding of Guelph during the 2011 election, which misdirected voters to the wrong polling stations.

Cote said his office is dealing separately with thousands of complaints in more than 200 ridings across the country about similar automated or live calls, which either misdirected voters or appeared designed to annoy them into not voting at all. It is that investigation which he aims to wrap up by the end of March.

At least three individuals refused to co-operate with the Guelph robocall investigation, Cote noted. That happens routinely, he said as he urged the government to give him the power to compel reluctant witnesses to co-operate with investigators, as his counterparts in six provinces are already empowered to do.

“If there is a genuine intent to facilitate and expedite the conduct of investigations in the electoral field, then this proposal must be seriously examined,” Cote writes in the report.

In the wake of the robocalls affair, the government has promised to introduce significant amendments to the Canada Elections Act.

Just Posted

One person in hospital after gunfire erupts at Alberta shopping mall

AIRDRIE, Alta. — A man is in hospital and police are looking… Continue reading

‘Tea with the Brontes’ is part of Red Deer’s Alberta Culture Days offerings

Live music, theatre, literary and visual arts will be featured around the city Sept. 27-29

Innisfail school to benefit from book fundraising campaign

Indigo Love of Reading Foundation’s Adopt a School program

Facing US ban, Huawei emerging as stronger tech competitor

SHENZHEN, China — Long before President Donald Trump threatened to cut off… Continue reading

South Korea culls pigs after confirming African swine fever

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea is culling thousands of pigs… Continue reading

WATCH: 2019 Canada Winter Games will leave a lasting legacy, say organizers

It leaves Red Deer with the infrastructure and confidence to host future such events

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Hughes scores 2 in preseason debut for Devils

Jack Hughes scored twice in his NHL preseason debut, including the winner… Continue reading

Opinion: City must aim for zero per cent tax hike

Red Deer city council is discussing the benefits of multi-year budgets, which… Continue reading

Flames winger Czarnik notches pair in exhibition win over Canucks in B.C.

VICTORIA — Forward Austin Czarnik says the Calgary Flames are starting the… Continue reading

Haviah Mighty wins Polaris prize for her album ‘13th Floor’

TORONTO — Haviah Mighty has won the 2019 Polaris Music Prize for… Continue reading

Celebs to read bedtime story to help fight homelessness

LOS ANGELES — Will Smith and Dame Helen Mirren will read a… Continue reading

Iowa City student killed in B.C. bus crash remembered as kind soccer talent

VICTORIA — One of two 18-year-old students who died when a tour… Continue reading

Elizabeth May seeks to blow past political pack with platform roll out

OTTAWA — Green Leader Elizabeth May pushed past the political pack Monday… Continue reading

Most Read