Summary Investigation Report on Robocalls

4. Findings

4.1 Calls Providing Incorrect Poll Locations

111. Investigators have confirmed that errors were made in some calls, directing electors to incorrect poll locations. Some electors were told to vote at a poll other than the one assigned on their VIC, while others were told to vote at a different poll but were counselled to confirm with Elections Canada. Some RMG calls gave erroneous information, and some calls from two local Liberal Party campaigns may have made errors while giving out addresses of poll locations. It is clear that these errors caused confusion for some electors.

112. For the purpose of considering whether or not to refer a possible offence to the Director of Public Prosecutions, however, it is not sufficient to find evidence of misdirection of an elector. There must be evidence of an intention to prevent the elector from voting or, by some pretence or contrivance, to induce the elector to vote or not vote for a particular candidate. No such evidence was found.

113. Some complainants reported having received calls from the Conservative Party asking if they would support that party. Having told the caller that they would not, the electors reported receiving calls a short time later directing them to vote at a location other than the one indicated on their VIC. Investigators found no evidence of a link between calls from the Conservative Party seeking support and reported calls to electors misdirecting them. It is understandable that the fact of electors receiving misdirecting calls after stating they would not support the Conservative Party could have been interpreted as an indication that something inappropriate was happening. However, for the purpose of an investigation of a criminal nature, more than a close juxtaposition in time is required. There needs to be other evidence that links the two together. Investigators did not find any such evidence.

114. The fact that electors received a call or several calls asking for their support is part of the normal process practiced by each of the major political parties. By some accounts, millions of such calls were made during the election period. It is not illegal, nor inappropriate, for a party to seek to gauge or confirm its level of support during an election period.

115. Had there been an effort to purposely mislead electors, investigators would have expected to see a single predominant calling number or constellation of such calling numbers. This was not found, based on the information collected in the course of the investigation. Had a false or untraceable incoming number been used in an effort to purposely misdirect electors, investigators again would have expected to see a pattern with multiple calls into a single electoral district from the same number, as occurred in Guelph. No such pattern was found.

116. Investigators found no discernible pattern of misdirecting calls intended to prevent the elector from voting or, by some pretence or contrivance, to induce the elector to vote or not vote for a particular candidate. In the RMG calls listened to (RMG being, as noted above, the only company to record live calls), although investigators noted instances in which electors were given incorrect poll location information, there were relatively few in which the caller stated that his or her information was correct and that the elector's VIC was wrong. Similarly, investigators found no evidence in this investigation to corroborate reports that callers posed as an Elections Canada employee or stated that the call was coming from Elections Canada.

117. It is noteworthy, however, that the investigation found that some national and local campaigns had arranged for calls informing electors of their poll location despite, at least in the case of one party, their knowledge that a small percentage of electors would be given incorrect information, and despite Elections Canada's warning to political parties not to give poll location information.

4.2 Nuisance Calls

118. Investigators have not been able to confirm many instances of nuisance calls. Some have been confirmed to a certain extent, but none of these situations provided investigators with evidence of intent to commit an offence under the Act.

119. The lack of available evidence to substantiate the nuisance calls reported by complainants has meant that, in most cases, the complaints could not be pursued further. The details of some nuisance complaints could be matched with available data, such as for repetitive telemarketer calling. But these instances did not amount to an offence. Either the calls themselves did not amount to illegal conduct – for example, where an elector in one electoral district complained of being called by a campaign in another electoral district – or the necessary criminal intent simply could not be established.

4.3 Distribution of Complaints

120. Before concluding, it may be useful to re-examine some of the data from section 1.3. This data shows how thinly scattered complaints were, other than in the electoral district of Guelph. It tends to show that the evidence gathered in the investigation does not lend support to the existence of a conspiracy or conspiracies to interfere with the voting process.

121. As noted earlier, complainants from 261 electoral districts made some form of complaint, with 228 of those electoral districts registering 10 or fewer complainants (and 181 of them registering 5 or fewer). The largest number of complainants in any electoral district other than Guelph amounted to 34. Figure 5 presents the 10 electoral districts registering the highest concentration of complainants, and shows the marked distinction between the first nine and Guelph.

Figure 5

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