Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/3/2012 (3485 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than 100 people rallied in Winnipeg Sunday to urge the House of Commons to get to the bottom of the robocall scandal.
"This is something that affects everyone," said 22-year-old Jonathan Ventura, carrying a polling station sign with arrows pointing in all directions.
The student, who doesn't belong to a political party, was joined by MPs past and present, pro-democracy, peace, labour and environmental group members at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street, carrying signs and waving Canadian flags. Similar demonstrations took place across Canada Sunday.
In Winnipeg, they passed around petitions calling for an investigation into alleged election fraud and voter violations, and for byelections to be held in the ridings where election laws were broken.
The crowd marched to the office of Winnipeg South Centre Conservative MP Joyce Bateman to present the petition. Her Corydon Avenue office was closed.
The former Liberal MP for the riding, Anita Neville, did not march to Bateman's office but attended the rally. She said there were reports of voters in her riding receiving robocalls telling them their polling station had been moved to a church in Charleswood. Voters in her old riding are well-informed and knew where they're supposed to vote, she said.
"Equally concerning were the harassing calls saying they were from the Liberals," said Neville.
They expected "dirty tricks" during the campaign but were so caught up in the election that they didn't focus on sourcing them, she said Sunday.
In a speech to rally the crowd, former Winnipeg North NDP MP and mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis recalled the robocall campaign against her bid for mayor.
Incumbent Sam Katz's calls warned people on fixed incomes that they could lose their homes if Wasylycia-Leis were elected mayor and raised property taxes. Once re-elected, Katz himself raised property taxes. Wasylycia-Leis said those robocalls may have been "distasteful" and "disgusting" but they were not illegal. The robocalls during the last federal election misdirecting voters to non-existent polling stations were a crime, said Wasylycia-Leis.
"Systematic voter suppression cannot be allowed," she told the crowd carrying signs criticizing Stephen Harper's Conservative government. One showed a picture of Harper pointing in an Uncle Sam-like gesture saying: "I want you -- not to vote."
Another said: "Conservatives win a majority government. We cheated."
Environmental educator Josh Brandon, who emceed the rally, listed a litany of concerns about the Conservative government to which the crowd responded with a chorus of "shame!"
Its handling of election irregularities, proroguing Parliament to stay in power, "dismantling" the Canadian Wheat Board against the wishes of most farmers, taking away union rights to collective bargaining by ordering people back to work, and painting environmentalists as enemies of Canada all rile people for a good reason, he said.
"They're trying to make people cynical about politics," said Brandon.
The allegations of election fraud and voter violations have made them take action rather than making them give up, he said.
"Something terribly wrong happened last April," said Brandon before the demonstrators walked down Osborne Street to Bateman's Corydon Avenue riding office.
"I hope we're able to put that right."
"I want to hold the prime minister accountable for his lack of action," said the student whose parents fled El Salvador because of its lack of democratic freedom.
"They came to have these rights."
Ventura is afraid they'll be lost if people take them for granted and don't stand up for their right to be heard with their vote.
"All we have is our vote."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.