Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lawyer for Tory MPs targets poll's credibility in robocalls case

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OTTAWA -- A key piece of evidence in the robocalls legal saga is deeply flawed and should be tossed out, says a lawyer representing Conservative MPs whose election wins last year are being challenged in court.

An Ekos Research survey that suggests voter-suppression tactics were widespread in the last election cannot be trusted, lawyer Ted Frankel said Friday.

"I think common sense ought to tell us, when the stakes are this high, we can't trust a survey of anonymous people 11 months later," Frankel said.

People's memories of the calls almost certainly faded during the 11 months between the time the poll was done and when the harassing and misleading calls allegedly occurred, Frankel said.

Given the flurry of telephone polls that occur during an election campaign, he added, it's entirely likely people might mistake one survey for another.

"To distinguish those details of whether I was called by Ipsos-Reid or by a party asking me if I was going to vote, or two parties, it's a lot to expect from someone," Frankel said.

"And it's a lot to ask this court to rely on the responses. ... It's impossible, I would suggest."

The Conservative legal team has spent much of the week trying to discredit the survey -- which points to signs of a far-reaching, targeted voter-suppression campaign aimed at non-Conservative voters during the May 2011 election -- as well as pollster Frank Graves of Ekos Research.

They have questioned Graves' donations to the federal Liberals and inconsistencies in prior court affidavits submitted as part of the case.

There was also a kerfuffle this week after it was revealed Graves -- asked to leave the courtroom during his cross-examination so lawyers could confer with the judge -- had examined the Twitter feeds of journalists who were tweeting from inside.

On Friday, Steven Shrybman, who represents eight Canadians who are challenging the election results, conveyed Graves's apology for snooping on the courtroom chat.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 A22

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