Voter Suppression

When it comes to democracy, nothing is more basic than the citizen’s right to vote. So the deliberate attempt to prevent voters from casting their ballots amounts to a stake through the faintly beating heart of democracy as surely as attempting to wiretap the headquarters of a rival political party. -Linda McQuaig

BULLETIN MAY 2013: A federal judge found that an entity did in fact employ robocalls to influence the election. In a clear and bold statement, Judge Richard Mosley wrote: "I find that electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election."
Read more.

BULLETIN: Allegations of Wrong-Doing During the 41st General Election
     Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, was a witness at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs at 11:00 on Thursday, March 29. This meeting was broadcast on the Internet and the recording is available on CPAC on demand here.
     Eleven members of the committee asked a wide variety of questions, often focusing on the 800 specific complaints registered across the country in the 200 ridings all of which are under investigation by the Elections Commissioner.  There have been 40,000 expressions of concern from citizens about voter suppression.
     Mr. Mayrand is very calm and authoritative, but at one point said that even one deliberate attempt to suppress votes is "outrageous". 
    “It’s absolutely outrageous,” Marc Mayrand told the parliamentary committee. “It’s totally unacceptable in a modern democracy.”
     His report will be made in the next year.
     Read a report in the Globe here.
     Watch the hearing on the CPAC video here.
Contents of this site: 
1. Voter Suppression by the numbers
2. What Happened to Our Canada
3. Model Letter on Voter Suppression
4. The Model Letter edited
5. Policy Not Polls link

Voter Suppression by the numbers 2011

6,201 the COMBINED margin of victory across the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in Canada, with 6,215 being the number needed by the nearest parties in the race, to have won those 14 seats by one vote.

18 votes the margin of victory for the Conservatives over the Liberals in the eastern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming. A judicial recount was done as requested by the returning officer for the electoral district

26 votes the margin of victory for the Conservatives over the Liberals in the GRA riding of Etobicoke Centre . A judicial recount was done; On June 28, 2011 an application to contest the results of the election was made on the basis there there were irregularities that affected the result.

1003 complaints were received by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the independent officer who ensures compliance with the Canada Elections Act before August 17, 2011 when the Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 41st General Election of May 2, 2011 was submitted to the Speaker of the House of Commons

2,284 complaints have been registered with Elections Canada since 2004, but Elections Canada has never provided any details of follow up or results of any investigations.

24,257,592 eligible voters in 2011 election source Elections Canada report on 41st general election page 28.

14,823,408 or 61.1% of registered electors voted source Elections Canada report on 41st general election page 38.

5,835,270 votes for Conservative Party of Canada

24.05% of eligible voters voted for the CPC, NOT A MAJORITY

39.36% of registered electors voted for the CPC, NOT A MAJORITY

$291 million the estimated cost for the 2011 general election by Elections Canada

$141-145 million US$ unit price of the F-35 fighter jets Canada is considering purchasing 65 of theses from the Americans

The cost of democracy is cheaper than the cost of war.
What Happened to our Canada?

Did you ever think that as a Canadian you would be afraid of publically voicing an opinion that differed from that of the governing party?

Did you ever think that as a Canadian if you spoke up publically your voice would be ignored?

Did you ever think the Prime Minister of Canada would be referred to in the following way in an international publication?

“Never mind what his spin doctors say: Mr Harper’s move looks like naked self-interest.”

“Mr Harper is a competent tactician with a ruthless streak. He bars most ministers from talking to the media; he has axed some independent watchdogs; he has binned campaign promises to make government more open and accountable. Now he is subjecting Parliament to prime-ministerial whim.”

Quotes from the Economist - Jan 7th 2010


Think again, stand up for Canada!

The elections act has been violated, when the elections act is violated, Canadians are violated.


RODC Voter suppression letter template
(please feel free to use some or all of this piece in your own letter to local media)

There is a rather Canadian moment in one of Tolkien’s works, wherein the ever-patient and benign Treebeard reflects upon his detachment from the world’s larger politics: “Hoom, hm, I do not like worrying about the future,” Treebeard muses.  “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you can understand me.” 

The idea that big-picture politics boil down to simply taking a side – that the “sides” will work their conflicts out without our intervention, and that these are generally matters that individuals ought not be trifled with – is a smug one.  Without his attention or involvement, the political environment − the ongoing thrust and parry of political manoeuvring, the usual debate and decision-making, the scandals and the resolutions − would merrily roll along without Treebeard:

Wouldn’t it?

As Treebeard soon discovered, some pieces of a political landscape are everyone’s concern, because they touch us all. 

The recent debacle over the robocalls controversy that has gripped Parliament Hill in Canada, I believe, is one of these vital pieces. 

While most of the Parliamentary debate and, as consequence, media representation and public perception of the situation has framed the robocall controversy as a question of party positioning, it is not.  Whether you voted for the Conservative Party, Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, Green Party or otherwise; whether or not your constituent of choice was elected; whether or not your riding was affected by misleading phonecalls; even if you chose not to head on down to your local polling station and tick your ballot at all, you have a strong and vested interest in getting to the bottom of the robocalls story. 

This story is not about toeing a party line.  The news outlets have it all wrong when they issue follow-up interest stories such as Robocall controversy hasn’t hurt support for Tories: poll (National Post, March 11) and Canadians split over blame for robocalls (Calgary Herald, March 11).  

Instead, this story is about voter suppression.  It affects us all: voters, non-voters, Canadians who have questioned the point of voting in the past, and those who, in the aftermath of the controversy, may now see their vote as irrelevant.  “These (rumours of voter suppression techniques) can have a negative effect on the political system and how the public perceives it,” Kathy Brock, a professor in the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s, noted in a recent Kingston news source.  Melanee Thomas, a post-doctoral fellow in the political studies department at Queen’s, agreed: “The reaction (from citizens) could be (that voters become) more apathetic.”

And who wouldn’t feel apathetic!  If you learned ProLine was rigged, would you still play?  If you learned your favourite “reality show” was scripted, would you still watch?  Probably not.  The news about the robocall election fraud scandal appears to be getting worse: there are reports that calls took place in dozens of key swing ridings all over the country, and directly affected voters’ access to polling stations in many of these.  Maybe you know someone who received a call.  As a strategy or political plan, the entire scene feels uncomfortable grossly unfair. 

Voter suppression tactics should not be confounded with legit day-of changes to polling stations or innocuous, isolated prank calls.  Organized electoral fraud and although nothing has been soundly proven and investigation into the 2011 election continues, the signs and symptoms of fraud are indeed what we are hearing about every day is a crime, and a direct attack on the foundation of our democracy.  Make no mistake: It takes serious money and major phone number databases to target voters in multiple ridings.  Who paid?  Who organized?

A democracy is a society in which we all participate in decision-making processes.  Moreover, a democratic environment holds these processes accountable if they are unethical, unrepresentative or irresponsible.  We need a public inquiry to learn the whole truth about the 2011 election and restore the basic integrity of our democracy.   

If you take nothing more away from the robocalls story, take this: There is no a party line.  Speaking to reporters last week, former Reform party leader Preston Manning agreed that all parties should be worried about vote-suppression efforts.  “I've spent my life trying to get people to participate more in the political process, for them to vote more,” Manning said.  “The fact that people are trying to work in the opposite direction is deplorable.”

Comparably, this month in Russia a country with a long history of observed election abuse Vladimir Putin won a convincing presidential term.  Putin’s campaign staff jumped to highlight that “this was the cleanest election in Russian history.”  Putin’s subsequent comments, meant to allay doubts over his success, were delivered with a comical sort of minimization that to Canadians nearly borders on the absurd: "Yes, it's possible there were (election) irregularities… probably there were some…But they can only influence hundredths of a per cent.  Well, maybe one per cent; that I can imagine.  But no more." 

There is a ‘big picture’ here, but it’s not about them, the parties, or their leaders.  It’s about you, the voter.  It’s about the integrity of the system of democracy, which we have always held up as a model to the world.

Hoom, hm.  As a Canadian, are you yet worrying about the future?

[Your name here] is a member of Reclaim Our Democratic Canada.  Reclaim Our Democratic Canada is a multi-partisan group of Canadians, who have become increasingly concerned about the future of Canada.  For more information, go to

Your name
Your street address
Your telephone number
Your email address
This is a somewhat shortened version of the above letter to meet newspaper standards for length.

Dear Editor:

Whether we like them or not, robocalls employed by political parties are a legitimate way to contact, inform and educate voters. We have learned that the robocall system has been used illegally. This has a profoundly negative effect on democracy and our freedoms.

Organized electoral fraud is a crime and a direct attack on the foundation of democracy.
Whether you voted for the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democratic Party, Green Party or otherwise; whether or not your constituent of choice was elected; even if you chose not to go to your local polling station to vote, we all have a vested interest in getting to the bottom of the voter suppression story.

We need to learn the whole truth about the 2011 election and restore the basic integrity of our democracy. Make no mistake it takes serious money and major phone number databases to target voters in multiple ridings.

Voter suppression is not about the parties or their leaders. It’s about us, the voters. It’s about the integrity of the system of democracy, which we have always held up as a model to the world. We must insist upon having the truth and knowing that those responsible will pay for their crime.

The big picture here is that our democratic rights have been jeopardized and we cannot rest until we know the facts. As Martin Luther King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”