My, Parliament Hill was a busy place today!
Not only was Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presenting his 2012-13 federal budget, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand (pictured) was testifying before a House committee on his agency’s investigation into potentially the biggest election scandal that has ever occurred in Canada’s 145 year history.
Here’s a link to the CBC report on Mayrand’s appearance. At present, he said, Elections Canada is investigating 800 complaints in 200 ridings that concern either robocalls purporting to be from Elections Canada that directed voters (typically those who’d been identified by the Conservatives in earlier phone surveys as non-supporters) to the wrong polling station, plus live calls that representatives of other parties purportedly made to voters that could be characterized as rude or harassing.
No firm links have been established to the Harper Conservatives, but Elections Canada is continuing its investigation, which includes trying to identify the client who contracted RackNine, an Alberta automated calling service, to make the fraudulent calls.
In a related budget note, one of the cuts Flaherty announced today was $7.5 million to Elections Canada’s budget. All in the name of austerity and responsible government, of course.