Canada FlagFollowing a 21-month investigation into misleading and harassing live and automated phone calls that were made to Guelph households in the days prior to the May 2011 federal election, Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Cote has recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders that charges be laid in the case. Saunders will now weigh the evidence and decide if it is sufficient to warrant charges either under the Elections Act or the Criminal Code.

This is a hugely convoluted case that we’ve written about numerous times before. Here’s a two-paragraph distillation from an article in today’s Ottawa Citizen by Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher who have been covering the investigation from the outset:

[Elections Canada investigator]Allan Mathews later traced the calls to a disposable cellphone registered with the pseudonym “Pierre Poutine” of the bogus address Separatist Street, Joliette, Que.

In the months that followed,  Mathews obtained court orders to compel the production of telephone, Internet and credit card records. These records mapped an investigative trail from the Poutine phone, to Edmonton-based voice broadcasting company RackNine used to send the robocalls, then to a Rogers Internet address in Guelph that seemed to correspond to the campaign office of Conservative candidate Marty Burke.

Similar allegations of false and misleading phone calls in the pre-election period have been made in many other ridings across Canada and the investigation in those instances is still ongoing. And a separate court case is also underway where voters in six ridings where the results were particularly close have petitioned the court to have the results overturned because of voter fraud.