Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Tory MP pleased with ruling

Won't comment on fraud finding

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Joyce Bateman,  seen on election night in 2011, refused to answer questions about voter fraud in her riding except to repeat that the judge found no one in her campaign committed the fraud. The judge chastised Bateman and five other MPs for engaging in 'trench warfare' in an attempt to prevent the case from going forward.

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Joyce Bateman, seen on election night in 2011, refused to answer questions about voter fraud in her riding except to repeat that the judge found no one in her campaign committed the fraud. The judge chastised Bateman and five other MPs for engaging in 'trench warfare' in an attempt to prevent the case from going forward.

OTTAWA -- Winnipeg Conservative MP Joyce Bateman says she is "very pleased" a federal judge has ruled neither she nor her campaign were involved in voter fraud during the 2011 federal election.

However, the former MP she defeated says Bateman has to live with the fact the judge found evidence of electoral fraud in the riding.

Bateman won an upset victory in Winnipeg South Centre in May 2011, besting Liberal incumbent Anita Neville by 722 votes to steal the longest-held Liberal riding in Western Canada.

Both she and Lawrence Toet, the Conservative MP in Elmwood-Transcona, had their election victories challenged by a group of voters who said there was evidence of a plot to direct voters to the wrong polling stations on election day, affecting the final results.

The Winnipeg ridings were two of six involved in the court challenge.

Bateman said Friday she knew there would be no issue.

'I know we were above reproach. I'm very, very pleased'

-- Winnipeg Conservative MP Joyce Bateman

"I know we were above reproach," said Bateman. "I'm very, very pleased."

She also criticized the Council of Canadians that bankrolled and helped organize the case, and the voters who brought it forward.

"Here's a group of people who didn't like the outcome of the election and they petulantly decided to challenge it," said Bateman.

In his ruling, Justice Richard Mosley found that while there was no evidence of involvement by any of the winning candidates or their campaigns, it was clear somebody did try to influence the election results, using information from the Conservatives' voter database known as CIMS.

Mosley said he wouldn't overturn the results because there was no evidence people were prevented from voting.

He said if he'd had evidence the candidates or their campaigns were involved, he would not have hesitated to overturn the results.

Mosley said regardless of who made the calls, they amount to electoral fraud and have shaken voter confidence in our electoral system.

He was critical of the MPs for the six ridings -- including Bateman and Toet -- for being too partisan and engaging in "trench warfare" in an attempt to prevent the case from going forward on its merits.

He awarded partial costs for the case to the applicants because of a number of pre-hearing motions made by the Conservatives that the judge concluded were unreasonable.

Bateman would not comment on the judge's finding somebody attempted to mislead voters in her riding. She repeatedly pointed out the judge said neither she nor her team were responsible.

She noted turnout in her riding rose to 59 per cent in 2011 from 56 per cent in 2008. Turnout also increased in Elmwood-Transcona -- to 56 per cent from 54 per cent.

Neville, who wasn't a part of the lawsuit, said she's happy with the ruling.

"We feel somewhat vindicated by the fraud ruling," said Neville. "We are disappointed they haven't decided to take it further and order new elections."

She said the worst part is "it reinforces a public perception of politicians, of politics and of our democratic process that I don't like."

Neville said Bateman "has to live with the knowledge that she was elected in an election where fraud was known to have taken place."

Jim Maloway, the former NDP MP defeated by Toet by 300 votes in 2011, said he's happy with the ruling because "at least it confirmed there was illegal activity."

He said it's clear someone in the Conservative party was behind the robocalls, but the only way it will be proven is if an insider talks to the RCMP.

"The Federal Court vindicated my team when they ruled that there was no wrongdoing by myself, my campaign team, the Conservative party, or any of my colleagues targeted by these applications," Toet said Friday in a press release.

The Council of Canadians is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 25, 2013 A15

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