Marty Burke (Guelph Conservative Candidate of Record)
March 12, 2012
Commissioner of Canada Elections
c/o Elections Canada
257 Slater Street
I wish to file an official complaint with your office concerning an incident that happened in the Guelph EDA during the 41st Federal Election.
On April 30, 2011 a recorded voice message was sent to an unknown number of Guelph residents. The actual transcript of the voice message:
“Hi, I’m Laurie MacDonald of Guelph. I’m appalled by what I read in the Mercury today. I’ve been an advocate for women’s rights for most of my life. Conservative candidate Marty Burke believes that under absolutely no circumstance should a woman have a right to choose.
Government should not be able to force their beliefs onto me. We live in a multi-faith, multi-cultural society. Let’s move forward and not back.
The race in Guelph is very close, vote strategically on Monday to protect our hard earned rights from the Conservatives and Marty’s extreme views.”
I believe this message violates Section 320 of the elections act in that it does not indicate “in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party”. In other words, it was a deliberate attempt to sway voters away from the Conservative Party while remaining anonymous.
Secondly, under the CRTC Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules (which are applicable in elections), such calls “shall display the originating telecommunications number or an alternate telecommunications number where the telecommunication originator can be reached”. The number displayed 226-209-3758 had no call back capability and no other number was provided maintaining anonymity.
Finally, the CRTC rules state such calls cannot be made on weekends after 6 p.m. There is some question as to whether some or all of the calls were made before or after this time but I believe it does bear investigation.
In early March, Guelph resident Greg Schirk, who received the message last April 30th, sent the original voice mail message to the Guelph Mercury newspaper. They subsequently published a story on this revelation.
Only after this event was made public did the local federal Liberal campaign admit that they had created and transmitted the message.
The clear intent of this Liberal Party authorized message was to slur myself and the Conservative Party in the hopes of discouraging votes for the Conservative Party. This was done without indicating it was a Liberal Party message, with no call back ability to check the origin, and possibly outside the time period in which these types of calls are allowed. The Liberal campaign also admitted the name “Laurie MacDonald” was fictitious- apparently another attempt to cover their tracks.
With these telephone calls, we are left to wonder how extensively they were sent and how much did they affect the Guelph election outcome. Their timing coming less than two days before the election, their content designed to inflame people, and their devious anonymity maximizes their impact.
I respectfully request that your offices investigate to determine whether an offence or offences occurred under the Elections Canada Act or the CRTC rules attached to the act due to these recorded voice messages.
I am available to assist in any way possible.