Leef spared byelection over robocalls

The Yukon was one of six ridings targeted in the robocalls scandal during the 2011 federal election. The judge concluded that someone orchestrated automated calls to voters to tell them – incorrectly – that their polling stations had been moved.

Ryan Leef gets to keep his seat as the Yukon’s elected member of parliament, a federal court judge has decided.

The Yukon was one of six ridings targeted in the robocalls scandal during the 2011 federal election. The judge concluded that someone orchestrated automated calls to voters to tell them – incorrectly – that their polling stations had been moved.

This “struck at the integrity of the electoral process by attempting to dissuade voters from casting their ballots for their preferred candidates,” federal court judge Richard Mosley wrote in his judgement on May 23.

But even though the calls were an attempt at electoral fraud, there’s no evidence it worked, according to Mosley’s judgement.

While the calls happened, not a single person could be found who would testify that they had actually been prevented from voting as a result, Mosley wrote.

The results in all the contested ridings will not be overturned.

The court challenge was brought forward by the Council of Canadians, which asked that the court overturn six hotly contested federal ridings where robocalls took place, including the Yukon.

The news comes as vindication for Leef, who opposed the court challenge from the beginning.

“I was really clear when this all broke that I didn’t think that this case was going to answer the questions that Canadians deserve answers to. Here we sit, a full year later, having the exact same questions we had when this was first undertaken,” Leef said.

“I thought there was a little bit of a partisan slant to these hearings. The judge didn’t reveal anything we didn’t know already, that there were concerning behaviors that went on in this country, and that there were fraudulent activities that went on,” Leef said.

Leef said he has reviewed Mosley’s 100-page ruling “cover to cover.”

Most of the ruling relates to fraudulent calls made in Guelph, Ontario, said Leef.

While Leef acknowledges that robocalls rang in the Yukon, he was confident from the start that they hadn’t affected the outcome of the 2011 election in the territory.

Mosley said that in order to carry out the calls, someone had access to the Conservative Party of Canada databanks, but it is still unclear who it was.

“There was no evidence that the use of those databanks was approved or condoned by the Conservative Party. There was certainly a lot of effort to conceal the identity of people who accessed the databanks and used them to make calls.

“It further warrants the investigation by Elections Canada. I, like anybody else, want to know who it is and that they’re going to be held accountable when we find out who that is,” Leef said.

Leef and the other Conservative MPs in the contested ridings all filed motions in May of last year trying to quash the court case before it began, arguing that the case was brought forward too late and was frivolous and contemptuous.

On Thursday, Leef said that MPs were only expressing their legal rights.

“All the motions were legal tools that we were allowed to use. That’s well within our rights, and well within the parameters of the law,” Leef said.

Leef won the 2011 election over incumbent Larry Bagnell by 132 votes.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com