Leef tries to kibosh robocall case

Ryan Leef is one of seven MPs trying to quash the court action against their victories in last year's federal election. The Conservative MPs filed their motions in the Federal Court on May 18.

Ryan Leef is one of seven MPs trying to quash the court action against their victories in last year’s federal election.

The Conservative MPs filed their motions in the Federal Court on May 18, before the long weekend, said executive director of the Council of Canadians, Garry Neil.

The council is footing the bill for the seven court challenges filed by nine individuals across Canada, including one in the Yukon.

“Under Canada’s Elections Act, an individual elector who has been the victim of fraud or is aware of fraud, corrupt or illegal activities that affected the results of a particular vote, can apply to the courts to have those results overturned,” said Neil.

In March, Leef issued a letter that asked his constituents to “let the evidence come out before jumping to any conclusions.

“If there have been any illegal acts, I strongly believe the matter should and will be dealt with according to law and that any group or individual found responsible should most certainly face the consequences for those acts,” the letter said.

Now, Leef and his Conservative colleagues are arguing that these court challenges shouldn’t be given any of the court’s time.

First off, they assert the challenges were made too late. The Elections Act says any grievances need to be brought forward within 30 days.

But it was only a few months ago when details about the alleged robocall scandal became publicly known, said Neil.

The Conservative MPs also assert that the court actions are frivolous and contemptuous, because they don’t represent enough voters to actually overturn the election results, said Neil.

“It’s childish lawyering,” said Neil. “We have polling data that the extent of the fraudulent calling was extensive, that it was targeted at supporters of the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and the Greens, and that it was effective. It actually affected the outcome and suppressed the voter turnout.

“This is our case and it’s up to the court to decide if our case has merit or not, it’s not up to you (the Conservative Party) to decide.”

Neil’s council expects more preliminary motions from the Conservatives to come, in an attempt to stall any legal investigation into the robocalls.

He also expects the Conservatives to tell the court that each of the seven challenges should be handled in their respective, local courts.

“Our argument is that much of the evidence is common,” said Neil. “It doesn’t make sense to force everybody to go to seven different hearings across the country when you do have a federal court.”

The case could be heard as early as Thursday, when court officials will decide on the first motions filed by the members, said Neil.

And depending on what happens, by the end of the week dates may be set to start hearing the robocall cases in court, he added.

Leef could not be reached for comment before press time. He was in constituent meetings and then traveling back to Ottawa, his office said.

But no possible explanation to try and stop the courts from hearing the robocall issue could suffice, said Neil.

“The Conservative Party has said it wants to get to the bottom of the robocalls affair. They encouraged people to go to Elections Canada. Well this also is a way to get to the bottom of it, so don’t stand in the way.

“Don’t obstruct having a court look at this seriously and consider whether this has happened, whether it’s been extensive and whether it’s affected the outcome. They can’t have it both ways.

“If you’ve got something to hide, which this would seem to indicate, that’s one thing, but if you want to get to the bottom of this, then don’t put these artificial roadblocks in the way.”

These court proceedings are separate from the investigation being conducted by Elections Canada into the seven ridings identified as areas where robocalls took place. That investigation is looking into whether there were any crimes committed under the Elections Act.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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