Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Details of rude, abusive robocalls emerge

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OTTAWA -- Rude calls, calls in the middle of the night, swearing and even a mysterious message from North Dakota are among the robocall stories collected from 56 ridings by Elections Canada investigators.

The details of the calls were included in documents filed in Federal Court this week as part of a continuing investigation into misleading calls made during the 2011 federal election.

The investigators want major phone companies, including Shaw, Rogers and Videotron, to turn over details of who was calling their customers -- sometimes in the middle of the night.

Many complainants said they received harassing calls from individuals claiming to be from the Liberal party, such as one call to a voter in the B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Alberni.

"She said (the caller) demanded to know whether she would support the Liberal Party. The complainant said she informed the caller she had already voted and had voted for another party," wrote investigator John Dickson.

The caller than hurled a four-letter expletive at the voter.

Another Canadian in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands said individuals purporting to be from the Conservative party called twice after 11 p.m.

In one mysterious case, a voter in Winnipeg Centre said he received calls from a North Dakota area code, and a message telling him of a change in polling station. Thinking it might be a relative living in that same area, the individual called the number back asking for the family member.

He told Elections Canada that whoever answered the phone put down the receiver to find a person with the relative's name. In the background, the Canadian said he could hear people discussing voters in Ontario, particularly Guelph and Thunder Bay.

"The complainant said he heard the person with the same name as his relative say to someone else that no one was supposed to call him at that number," said Dickson.

"At about that time, the complainant states he said 'Hello.' The person with the same name as his relative apparently heard this and said to someone else 'Idiot. He can hear us.' "

Lawyers for eight Canadians from six ridings will argue in Federal Court on Dec. 10 that the election results should be overturned because of the alleged efforts to suppress the vote.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 A22

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