Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rob Ford Conflict of interest trial & Allegations of substance abuse

Conflict of interest trial

In August 2010, the City of Toronto's integrity commissioner ruled that Councillor Ford had not followed City Council's Code of Conduct and had abused his council position by using official letterhead and other council resources in fund-raising letters for his football foundation. Ford had accepted $3,150 on behalf of the foundation and the commissioner indicated that Ford should pay back the money.[109][110] In the report, the commissioner had noted that donors had included lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and a corporation which did business with the City of Toronto.[111] Ford indicated that he would challenge the report at Council, stating that he was being treated unfairly. He publicly asked "why the integrity commissioner doesn't investigate the $12,000 retirement party for Kyle Rae or the $6,000 French lessons for Adam Giambrone. Or better yet, why not that Tuggs deal, that 20-year lease behind closed doors. Why doesn't she investigate that?"[112]

On August 25, 2010, City Council debated the integrity commissioner's report. Ford participated in the report discussion and the vote after being warned by then-Council Speaker Sandra Bussin that he was in a potential conflict of interest.[111] Council agreed with the commissioner and voted 26–10 for Ford to return the money.[113] In the months following the meeting, Ford discussed the repayment with his donors. Several did not want repayment and Ford forwarded letters from several donors expressing their wishes to the integrity commissioner. By February 2012, Ford had not paid the amount and the matter was raised at a February 7, 2012 City Council meeting.

Ford spoke and voted at the February 7 meeting: "[A]nd if it wasn't for this foundation, these kids would not have a chance. And then to ask for me to pay it out of my own pocket personally, there is just, there is no sense to this. The money is gone, the money has been spent on football equipment ..."[111] City Council voted on a motion "[t]hat City Council rescind the previous decision made under Item CC52.1[114]and direct that no further action be taken on this matter", which carried by majority, 22 voting Yes, 12 No, with 11 absent.[109][115]

In March 2012, a complaint was filed by Paul Magder, a Torontonian, alleging that Ford's actions at the February 2012 Council meeting had violated the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA).[116]The lawsuit came to trial in Ontario Superior Court on September 5, 2012. The case was argued on Magder's behalf by Toronto civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby, who represented him pro bono.[117] Ruby argued that Ford had clearly violated the act by "having spoke to and voted on a matter in which he allegedly had a pecuniary interest ... contravening s. (5)1 of the MCIA and an order was sought under s. 10(1) of the MCIA declaring his seat on Toronto City Council vacant."[111][117] Ford's defense was that the MCIA did not apply to Toronto City Council's Code of Conduct; that the Council Resolution was ultra vires to Council's powers under the City of Toronto Act and therefore null; that the amount was insignificant, and that the contravention of the MCIA was committed through inadvertence or by reason of error in judgment.[111]

During the trial, Ruby argued Ford was "reckless" and "wilfully ignorant" of the law when he did not remove himself from the debate and vote. Ford testified he never read the MCIA or a City of Toronto councillor orientation handbook which included a section on conflicts of interest. Also, he did not attend City Council training sessions that covered conflicts of interest.[118] The mayoralty oath of office includes a pledge to "disclose conflicts of interest", and when asked by Ruby if he understood the words, Ford said: "No. My interpretation of a conflict of interest, again, is it takes two parties and the city must benefit or a member of council must benefit." Ruby argued that "as mayor he ought to have had a clear understanding of his obligations. This entire pattern of conduct shows that he chose to remain ignorant, and substituted his own view for that of the law." Ford disagreed, stating he only acted in the best interest of high school students.[118] The trial concluded on September 6 with no immediate judgment and the judge promised "to deliver the ruling in a timely fashion."[119]

Ontario Superior Court Judge Hackland's ruling was released on November 26, 2012. Hackland found that Ford had violated the MCIA and declared his seat vacant, the decision to take effect in 14 days.[109] In his decision, Hackland disagreed with all of Ford's legal arguments. In his disposition, Hackland stated: "Ford's actions were not done by reason of inadvertence or of a good faith error in judgment. I am, therefore, required by s. 10(1)(a) of the MCIA to declare the respondent's seat vacant. In view of the significant mitigating circumstances surrounding the respondent's actions ... I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term."[111] Opinions differed on whether the ruling allowed Ford to run in a by-election should Council order one to fill the vacancy. According to the City Solicitor, the ruling disallowed Ford from holding office again until 2014, the next term of office.[120] However, on November 30, Judge Hackland clarified his order, and did not bar Ford from running in a by-election, should one be held before 2014.[121]

After the ruling, Ford announced that he would appeal. "I'm a fighter. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. I've done lots of great work for the city ... This comes down to left-wing politics. The left-wing wants me out of here and they will do anything in their power to and I'm going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto my job and if they do for some reason get me out, then I'll be running right back at 'em soon as the next election is, if there's a by-election I'll have my name the first one on the ballot."[122] Ford was granted a stay of the decision on December 5, and remained mayor during his appeal.[123]

On January 27, 2013, the Superior Court upheld Ford's appeal. The judges declared that the original judge had erred because the financial judgment was not under the City of Toronto Act or the Council Code of Conduct. Further, the sanction was beyond the authority of the City Council to enact.[124] After the ruling, Ruby promised to appeal the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court. Although Ford won the appeal, the appeals court disallowed Ford's claim for $116,000 in legal costs.[125]
Allegations of substance abuse

During his mayoral campaign, a 1999 arrest of Ford in Miami, Florida for driving under the influence (DUI) and marijuana possession became an election issue when the Toronto Star published details of the arrest. According to the statement recorded by the arresting officer, Ford was acting nervous, had bloodshot eyes and had "a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath". Ford threw his hands up in the air and told the police officer, "Go ahead, take me to jail."[126][127] When questioned by reporters about the incident, Ford initially denied the DUI charge, saying instead he was arrested because he "refused to give a breath sample".[128] Ford later admitted the DUI conviction, but omitted the marijuana possession.[129] Ford later admitted to the marijuana possession, saying that the marijuana charge had "completely, totally slipped my mind" because the more serious issue during the arrest was the DUI charge.[130]

On April 15, 2006, Ford (a sitting councillor at the time) attended a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Visibly intoxicated and belligerent, he began to insult a couple seated behind him, who were visiting from out of town. Two security guards escorted Ford out of the building. When confronted about the episode three days later by a National Post reporter, Ford initially denied having been at the game. He later told the Toronto Star: "This is unbelievable, I wasn't even at the game, so someone's trying to do a real hatchet job on me, let me tell you", but later on said: "I reflected on it last night, and talked to my family. I came forward and admitted it. That's all I can do. I mean, I'm not perfect," said Ford. "Being in politics, you're in the spotlight all the time. I made a mistake. I made a major mistake. I really regret it."[131]

In March 2013, former mayoralty candidate Sarah Thomson accused Ford of touching her inappropriately and making inappropriate comments while posing for a picture together at a political function.[132]Thomson, in a later interview on radio, suggested that Ford was on cocaine: “I thought he was, yes, but I don’t know,” she said. “I went back and looked up, you know, what are the signs of cocaine use. I looked it up and you know sweaty, talking quickly, out of it, arrogant — all these things were on there. What I read on Google, I would think he’s either on that or some other substance … he was definitely out of it.”[133] Ford responded on his radio show by saying that Thomson's story wasn't true and commented on Thomson: “In my personal opinion, I’ve always said I don’t know if she’s playing with a full deck from the first time I met her.”[133]

Later in March, the Toronto Star reported that Paul Ainslie, a member of the Toronto City Council executive committee, had asked Ford to leave a function two weeks prior to the Thomson event, due to Ford being intoxicated. The Toronto Star then published a front-page story accusing Ford of having a "drinking problem", which was an "open secret" at City Hall.[134] In both cases, Ford or his chief of staff Mark Towhey denied the allegations. Ford said the Star story was an outright lie; he said "Let’s just wait until the election, and then we’ll see what happens ... It’s just lies, after lies and lies".[135]

In May 2013, Gawker said it had been offered a video showing Ford apparently smoking crack cocaine.[136][136] The Star reporters wrote that they viewed the clip on a smartphone in the backseat of a car on May 3, and noted that they have "no way to verify the authenticity of the video" but that it "appears to clearly show Ford in a well-lit room."[136] Ford denied the allegations on May 17, calling them, "Absolutely not true."[137]

On May 23, Gawker posted that it had lost touch with the video owner.[138]

Two government departments went too far in their monitoring of a First Nations children's advocate and her personal Facebook page, federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has found.

The commissioner found that Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice seemed to violate the spirit of the Privacy Act when they compiled reams of information from Blackstock's personal Facebook page.
"It raises the question: who else?" said NDP aboriginal affairs critic Jean Crowder.
Officials knew full well that they were delving into personal information, and not just Blackstock's thoughts on child welfare policy, the report states.
However, the senior officials in charge of the First Nations child welfare dossier gave written permission to departmental information technicians to dig through all of Blackstock's Facebook pages and collect screen shots and records of page excerpts for circulation to other government officials, Stoddart found.
At the same time, Blackstock was making obvious efforts to better secure her personal information on her Facebook page, making it clear that the government attention was not welcome, the report added.
"The lack of transparency surrounding the collection of personal information by the respondents from the complainant's Facebook page would seem to violate the spirit, if not the letter of the act," Stoddart's report states.

Court-related material

The decision shows that even if information is somehow publicly available, the government can't just go and collect it in an organized fashion, explained Blackstock's lawyer, Paul Champ. Rather, personal information can only be gathered for a specific, appropriate purpose.
Government officials told the commissioner they needed to monitor Blackstock because she had posted some court-related material that had been deemed privileged. However, Stoddart's investigation finds that the monitoring of Blackstock's personal information began before she had posted the material in question.
Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice have agreed to cease and desist such monitoring, destroy any personal information not directly linked to federal policy, and set up a new system to make sure such surveillance does not happen again.
Stoddart found no merit to two other privacy complaints from Blackstock. She ruled that government monitoring of Blackstock's speaking engagements was an acceptable activity for officials in their policy work. And she ruled that since there is no public record of government officials accessing the Indian status record database, she could not agree with Blackstock that her privacy was invaded.
Blackstock's organization has been in a legal battle with Ottawa since 2007, arguing that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children by refusing to provide support at the same level as provincial governments.
The dispute is now before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Date: 20130523
Docket: T-619-12
Citation: 2013 FC 525
Ottawa, Ontario, May 23, 2013
PRESENT: The Honourable Mr. Justice Mosley
Page: 2
Page: 3
Page: 4
I. Introduction ....................................................................................................................5
II. Background.....................................................................................................................7
III. The Statutory and Jurisprudential Framework..........................................................14
A. The Canada Elections Act of 2000................................................................14
B. Part 20 of the Act – CONTESTED ELECTIONS .......................................20
(1) The Act contemplates parallel criminal and civil processes ..........20
(2) The test, burden and standard of proof for invalidity .....................21
(3) The meaning of “fraud” in s 524(1)..................................................25
(4) “…that affected the result of the Election.”.....................................29
(5) When Must an Application to Annul be Made?..............................34
(6) Section 527,“knew or should have known”.....................................36
IV. Analysis.........................................................................................................................37
A. Preliminary motions........................................................................................37
(1) Was there maintenance and champerty by the Council of
Canadians? ..........................................................................................37
(a) Is the Henein affidavit admissible?..........................................39
(b) Conclusion on maintenance and champerty ...........................41
(2) Are the Applications Statute-Barred?...............................................44
(3) Should the opinion evidence of Frank Graves be struck? ..............48
B. Admissibility and weight of the evidence.....................................................55
(1) Evidence of the applicants.................................................................55
(2) The ITO evidence...............................................................................56
(3) Mr. Robert Penner’s evidence...........................................................65
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(4) The evidence of Annette Desgagné and Andrew Langhorne.........67
(5) The EKOS Survey Evidence ............................................................71
(6) Dr. Ruth Corbin’s evidence...............................................................78
(7) Dr. Neil Nevitte’s evidence ...............................................................83
(8) Evidence of the respondent MPs’ campaign managers ..................86
V. Conclusion on the Merits ............................................................................................86
A. Has “fraud” under Section 524(1)(b) been made out?.................................86
B. Did the fraud affect the results of the election in the six subject ridings?.89
C. Did the fraud call into question the integrity of the elections?...................90
D. Should the Court exercise its discretion to annul the elections? ................92
VI. Costs ..............................................................................................................................93
I. Introduction
“…very serious matters that strike at the integrity of our democratic process.”
[1] In his remarks to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs of the House
of Commons on March 29, 2012, Mr. Marc Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, made
the following comments about the allegations that are at the heart of these applications:
These are very serious matters that strike at the integrity of our
democratic process. If they are not addressed and responded to,
they risk undermining an essential ingredient of a healthy
democracy, namely the trust that electors have in the electoral
[2] The applicants, eight Canadian citizen voters residing in six electoral districts, brought
these proceedings to annul the results of the 2011 General Election in their ridings because of
efforts to suppress votes that occurred during that election. Those efforts involved telephone calls
purporting to be from Elections Canada. In the calls, voters were told that the locations of polling
stations in their districts had been moved from the places specified in the printed information
provided by Elections Canada prior to the day of the vote. The information was false and
Elections Canada neither made nor authorized those calls.
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[3] The calls struck at the integrity of the electoral process by attempting to dissuade voters
from casting ballots for their preferred candidates. This form of “voter suppression”, was, until
the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country.
[4] The evidence presented in these applications points to a concerted campaign by persons
who had access to a database of voter information maintained by a political party. It was not
alleged that any of the candidates of that party, including those who were successful in the six
ridings at issue, were responsible for this campaign but that others took it upon themselves to
attempt to influence the election results in their favour.
[5] As a result of these actions, the applicants seek to set aside the 2011 Election results in
the six ridings under Part 20 of the Canada Elections Act, SC 2000, c 9 [the Act].
[6] The central issue to be determined in these proceedings was the effect the calls had, if
any, on the election results in the six subject ridings. If satisfied that the calls affected the result
in one or more of the ridings or called into question the integrity of the electoral process, the
Court may annul the outcome in that riding or ridings. For the reasons that follow, I find that
electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election but I am not satisfied that it has been
established that the fraud affected the outcomes in the subject ridings and I decline to exercise
my discretion to annul the results in those districts.
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II. Background
[7] These applications were brought ten months after the election. Complaints about
misleading and harassing calls had been made to Elections Canada both before and during the
election day on May 2, 2011 but the matter did not attract much public attention until, in late
February 2012, journalists found in an Edmonton court file an “Information to Obtain a
Production Order Pursuant to Section 487.012 of the Criminal Code” (“ITO”) sworn by Allan
Mathews, an Elections Canada investigator. The Mathews ITO became a public document after a
return was made to the court on the execution of the production order. The media then began to
report widely that Elections Canada officials were actively investigating complaints made during
and after the election.
[8] The Mathews ITO was filed to obtain records from an Edmonton-based company called
RackNine Inc., in relation to complaints by voters that there had been efforts to suppress votes in
the electoral district of Guelph, Ontario. Mr. Mathews described the nature of the complaints as
Individual electors have described to me receiving telephone calls
around 10:00 hours of the morning of May 2, 2011. The caller was
usually described as a recorded female voice giving a bilingual
message, who claimed to be calling on behalf of Elections Canada.
The English message received by electors is as follows:
This is an automated message from Elections Canada. Due to the
projected increase in poll turnout your voting location has been
changed. Your new voting location is at… Once again your new
poll location is at… If you have any questions please call our
hotline at 1-800-434-4456. We apologize for any inconvenience
that this may cause.
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[9] Mr. Mathews further deposed that Elections Canada does not telephone individual
electors and did not make the calls in question. The assertion that the polling stations had been
changed was untrue. The making of these calls by a person or persons unknown, in Mr.
Mathews’ belief, wilfully prevented or endeavoured to prevent an elector from voting contrary to
paragraph 281(g) of the Act. As a result, he alleged, offences had been committed contrary to s
491(3)(d) and s 482(b) of the Act.
[10] Media accounts subsequent to the publication of the Mathews ITO reported that similar
illicit telephone calls had been reported in other ridings. On March 15, 2012 the Chief Electoral
Officer, Marc Mayrand, issued a statement: “Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Addresses
Allegations of Wrongdoing During the 41st General Election”. Mr Mayrand’s statement
indicated that Elections Canada had, as of that date, received over 700 complaints from
Canadians describing specific circumstances where they believed that wrongdoing had occurred
during the 41st General Election. As of the date of Mr. Mayrand’s appearance before the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs two weeks later, on March 29, 2012, close
to 40,000 Canadians had contacted Elections Canada to express their concerns in response to the
media reports.
[11] This was the context in which these applications were filed with the Court. They contest
the results of the election in the six electoral districts of Elmwood-Transcona, Nipissing-
Timiskaming, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Vancouver Island North, Winnipeg South Centre
and Yukon.
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[12] The respondents are the Attorney-General of Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer of
Canada, the Returning Officers for the electoral districts, the six elected Conservative Party of
Canada Members of Parliament (MPs), three unsuccessful Liberal candidates (Nipissing-
Timiskaming, Winnipeg South Centre, and Yukon), the six unsuccessful New Democratic Party
candidates, and Matt Henderson, an unsuccessful Independent candidate in Winnipeg South
[13] Notices of appearance were filed by each of the respondents. The respondent
Conservative MPs filed written representations and made oral submissions opposing the
applications at the hearing. The New Democratic Party candidates filed written representations
and made oral submissions in support of the applicants. The Liberal Party candidates, the
Attorney General of Canada, the Returning Officers and Mr. Henderson filed no submissions and
took no active part at the hearing. Other candidates in the several ridings did not file notices of
appearance. The Chief Electoral Officer provided written representations and oral submissions to
assist the Court with respect to the interpretation of the Act.
[14] There were originally seven applications, but the seventh, in Court file T-616-12, Leanne
Bielli v Attorney General, was dismissed in October 2012 when it emerged that the applicant,
who had not voted due to a misleading call, had mistaken her riding and resided in an adjacent
one and not that which was the subject of her application. A motion initiated by one of the
respondents in T-616-12 and the evidence filed in that application were deemed continued in the
other six applications.
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[15] The Notices of Application were filed on March 23 and March 26, 2012. Pursuant to s
525(3) of the Act, such applications are to be "dealt with without delay and in a summary way".
As discussed by Mr. Justice Lederer in Wrzesnewskyj v Canada (Attorney General), 2012 ONSC
2873, [2012] OJ No 2308 (QL) [“Wrzesnewskyj”] at paragraphs 32-33, this means that they are
to be dealt with without all of the customary legal formalities. To proceed in “a summary way”
imposes limits on the evidence that may be gathered and heard. An additional limitation in this
particular context is the fact that the vote is secret.
[16] That the applications are to be dealt with expeditiously did not prevent the parties,
particularly the respondent MPs, from bringing a considerable number of interlocutory motions.
It is, I think, helpful to provide an overview of the preliminary proceedings to explain why this
case has taken so long to be completed and to provide some background to the issues dealt with
in these reasons.
[17] On May 22, 2012, two months after the applications were filed, the respondent MPs
moved to have them dismissed as frivolous and vexatious, an abuse of process and not brought
within the time required under s 527 of the Act. The motions to strike were dismissed on all
grounds, save that of timeliness, on July 19, 2012 following a hearing before Prothonotary
[18] Recognizing that the Act provided a mechanism to prevent abusive objections to election
results from interfering with the democratic process, Prothonotary Milczynski found that such a
situation had not been established on the record before her:
Page: 11
Far from being frivolous or vexatious, or an obvious abuse, the
applications raise serious issues about the integrity of the
democratic process in Canada and identify practices that if proven,
point to a campaign of activities that would seek to deny eligible
voters their right to vote and/or manipulate or interfere with that
right being exercised freely - all of which if permitted to escape
even the prospect of judicial scrutiny, could shake public
confidence and trust in the electoral process and in those who in
good faith stand for public office.
Bielli v Canada (Attorney General), 2012 FC 916, [2012] FCJ No
971 (QL) at para 11 [Bielli].
[19] Prothonotary Milczynski concluded that the issues would be best raised and argued on a
full record. The question of whether the applications were brought within the statutory limitation
period could not be resolved without the applicants’ evidence and any possible crossexaminations
on their evidence by the respondents.
[20] Also on May 22, 2012, the respondent MPs initiated a motion to have the applications
dismissed on the ground that they were the product of maintenance and champerty by an
organization not party to the proceedings, the Council of Canadians (the “Council”). This motion
was supported by an affidavit sworn by Peter Henein, a member of the law firm acting on behalf
of the respondent MPs. The applicants moved shortly thereafter to strike the affidavit on the
ground that it was contrary to Rule 82 of the Federal Courts Rules, SOR/98-106 [the Rules] and
the principle that counsel may not be a witness in the same case in which they represent a party.
[21] Following a case conference in August, the applicants agreed to withdraw the Rule 82
motion without prejudice to their right to impugn the evidence at the hearing of the applications.
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In exchange, counsel for the respondent MPs agreed not to cross-examine affiants representing
the Council with respect to the motion to dismiss for maintenance and champerty.
[22] The respondent MPs moved in August 2012 to have an increased security for costs,
totalling $260,409.00, paid into court by the applicants. This was denied by Prothonotary
Aronovitch on the basis that the "respondent MPs have failed to raise grounds or bring to bear
evidence that would justify any further payment of security for costs, let alone in the amount
requested." (Bielli v Canada (Attorney General), 2012 FC 1172 at para 5). Finding that the
seven motions (one in each application) had unnecessarily delayed and encumbered the
proceedings, she ordered that the costs of the motions be paid by the respondent MPs in any
event of the cause.
[23] Another series of preliminary motions concerned the expert opinion evidence filed by the
parties. The respondent MPs moved in August 2012 for leave to file a sur-reply affidavit by their
expert, Dr. Ruth Corbin. In September, the applicants moved for leave to file their own expert
reply and the respondent MPs moved to strike the evidence of the applicants’ expert, Mr. Frank
Graves, invoking an alleged lack of independence and impartiality. On October 10, 2012, the
Court issued a consent order allowing both parties to file reply and sur-reply affidavits, without
prejudice to their rights to make representations on the weight and probative value of the
evidence during the hearing, but with agreement that neither the applicants nor the respondent
MPs would seek to serve and or file any additional affidavits from experts.
Page: 13
[24] In October 2012, the applicants moved for leave to file affidavit evidence introducing
records from the Commissioner of Elections. Leave was granted, with the hearing judge to
decide on the weight and probative value of this evidence.
[25] In late November 2012, additional ITO information having been brought to light by the
press, the applicants moved for leave to examine three investigators for the Commissioner of
Elections, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Dickson, and Mr. Thouin, or to file an affidavit containing
information about their investigations. A redacted affidavit with redacted exhibits was allowed
on December 6, 2012. The Chief Electoral Officer moved to have investigation evidence
admitted to the record, asking for an order permitting the filing of a collection of documents
brought to light through Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests as exhibits to an
affidavit. This was also granted on December 6, 2012.
[26] Finally, on December 5, 2012, the applicants asked for relief from the October 10 consent
order under which they could file no more expert opinion evidence, having belatedly discovered
a factual error in the respondent MPs’ reply evidence addressing Mr. Graves’ affidavits. This
motion was granted subject to the production of Mr. Graves for cross-examination at the hearing,
as contemplated by s 525(3) of the Act and by the Rules.
[27] The hearing began as scheduled on Monday, December 10, 2012 and was concluded on
Monday, December 17, 2012. In addition to the substantive merits of the applications and the
procedural issue relating to timeliness, two of the motions brought by the respondents during the
interlocutory proceedings remained to be determined by the Court: the maintenance and
Page: 14
champerty motion and the motion by the respondent MP in the Don Valley East riding to strike
the Graves evidence. As noted above, the motion to strike the Graves evidence had been deemed
to be continued on behalf of the other respondent MPs when the Don Valley East application was
[28] On January 24, 2013 the applicants moved to be granted leave pursuant to Rule 312(a) of
the Rules to adduce further affidavit evidence concerning another ITO sworn by John B. Dickson
in the course of his investigations on behalf of the Office of the Commissioner of Canada
Elections, which had just become public. The respondent MPs opposed the motion. None of the
other parties filed a response. By Order dated February 22, 2013 the Court granted the motion on
the same terms as those under which the evidence of the other ITOs was introduced and subject
to the same objections on admissibility, weight, and relevance.
[29] I will now turn to the legislative and jurisprudential framework governing my
determination of the issues raised in these proceedings.
III. The Statutory and Jurisprudential Framework
A. The Canada Elections Act
[30] As noted at the outset, these proceedings were brought by applications under the Canada
Elections Act. The present version of this statute was enacted by Parliament in 2000 to
implement the recommendations of a series of reports, including that of a Royal Commission on
Page: 15
Electoral Reform and Party Financing tabled in 1992, five reports produced by a Special
Committee of the House of Commons during 1992 and 1993 and others submitted to Parliament
by the Chief Electoral Officer, notably that following the 36th General Election in 1997.
[31] These reports called for the repeal of the existing legislation, the former Canada
Elections Act dating from 1970, the Dominion Controverted Elections Act, RSC 1985, c C-39,
the Disenfranchising Act RSC 1985, c D-3, originally enacted in 1894, and the Corrupt Practices
Inquiries Act RSC 1985, c C-45, adopted in 1876. They also called for consolidation of the
administrative framework for federal elections, the offences and penalties for violations and the
procedures for contesting or controverting electoral results into one comprehensive code.
[32] One of the effects of the adoption of these recommendations in the 2000 Act is that the
jurisprudence under the former legislation may be of limited value in interpreting the new
[33] In considering the relevant provisions of the 2000 Act, I have had the benefit of the
views expressed by Justice Lederer in Wrzesnewskyj, above, and those of the majority and
minority opinions of the Supreme Court of Canada on appeal from that decision in Opitz v
Wrzesnewskyj, 2012 SCC 55, [2012] SCJ No 55 (QL) [Opitz].
[34] As stated by the majority in Opitz at paragraph 1, section 3 of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act
1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 [Charter], and the provisions of the Canada Elections Act have the clear
Page: 16
and historic purposes of enfranchising Canadian citizens and of protecting the integrity of our
electoral process.
[35] Canadian citizens are guaranteed the right to vote for the candidate of their choice to
serve as the Member of Parliament for the electoral district in which the citizen resides. Section 3
of the Charter provides:
3. Every citizen of Canada has
the right to vote in an election
of members of the House of
Commons or of a legislative
assembly and to be qualified
for membership therein.
3. Tout citoyen canadien a le
droit de vote et est éligible aux
élections législatives fédérales
ou provinciales.
[36] Section 6 of the Canada Elections Act gives practical effect to that guarantee by
providing that persons who are qualified as electors are entitled to have their names included in
the list of electors for the electoral division in which they are ordinarily resident and to vote at
the polling station for that electoral division at federal elections.
[37] The procedure for determining the lists of electors for each polling division is set out in
Part 7 of the Act. Preparation for the vote is governed by Part 8. It is the responsibility of the
returning officer to establish one polling station for each polling division (s 120(1)). Additional
stations may be established if justified by the number of electors in the district, with the prior
approval of the Chief Electoral Officer (s 120(2)). Additional provisions in Part 8 specify the
nature of the locations that may serve as polling stations, with regard to such considerations as
accessibility and privacy, and the appointment of officials to manage and secure the premises.
Part 9 contains the method for setting the voting hours.
Page: 17
[38] The selection of the location of each polling station is among the responsibilities of the
returning officers for each district with the approval of the Chief Electoral Officer. That would
include any relocation of a polling station. The scheme of the legislation suggests that any
notification to electors of such a change would also be the responsibility of the returning officers
and Chief Electoral Officer.
[39] Section 281 prohibits anyone from interfering with an elector when marking a ballot,
from making false statements or from preventing an elector from voting. Interference with an
elector would include the type of conduct complained of in this proceeding; that is, deliberately
providing false information about a change in the location of a polling station.
[40] Part 19 of the Act, containing sections 479-521.1, deals with enforcement issues. Section
480 creates a general offence of obstructing the electoral process. Other specific offences are set
out in sections 481 to 499. These include the offence of electoral fraud under s 482(b) (inducing
a person to refrain from voting or refrain from voting for a particular candidate “by any pretence
or contrivance”) and that set out in paragraph 491(3)(d) (wilfully preventing or endeavouring to
prevent an elector from voting at an election). These are the offences, according to the ITOs,
which are being investigated by the Commissioner of Canada Elections in regard to the 2011
[41] Section 500 contains the general punishment provisions for the offences created by the
preceding sections. The maximum penalties range from a fine of not more than $1,000 or three
months’ imprisonment, or both, in most cases and a fine of $25,000 in one case, on summary
Page: 18
conviction, to a fine of $5,000 or five years’ imprisonment on conviction by indictment. Corrupt
and illegal practices by candidates and their official agents are dealt with in s 502, which carries
a five year maximum penalty and proscription from holding electoral or appointed office for up
to seven years from the date of conviction.
[42] The office of Commissioner of Canada Elections is provided for in sections 509 to 515 of
Part 19. The Commissioner is appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer and is responsible for
ensuring that the Act is complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer can direct the
Commissioner to conduct an inquiry and the Commissioner can initiate an inquiry and receive
complaints. Section 511 authorizes the Commissioner to refer a matter to the Director of Public
Prosecutions if he or she believes on reasonable grounds that an offence has been committed.
The Director of Public Prosecutions shall decide whether to initiate a prosecution (s 511(1)).
[43] The respondent MPs contend that one of the options open to the applicants would have
been to initiate a private prosecution, as the Act permits. Had they done so, it was submitted, the
applicants, if successful in securing a conviction, could have taken advantage of the provision in
s 515 permitting the criminal court to make an award of costs to the prosecuting party. This
argument was advanced in the context of the champerty motion in response to the contention that
private citizens would not have the resources to bring annulment applications without the support
of third parties.
[44] However, private prosecutions may be initiated only with the prior written consent of the
Director of Public Prosecutions save for the instance where an elections officer has to take steps
Page: 19
to maintain order at a polling place while the vote is ongoing (s 512; s 479(3)). Section 512 reads
as follows:
512. (1) No prosecution for an
offence under this Act may be
instituted by a person other
than the Director of Public
Prosecutions without the
Director’s prior written
512. (1) L’autorisation écrite
du directeur des poursuites
pénales doit être préalablement
obtenue avant que soient
engagées les poursuites pour
infraction à la présente loi.
(2) Subsection (1) does not
apply to an offence in
relation to which an
election officer has taken
measures under subsection
(2) L’autorisation n’est pas
requise pour les infractions
pour lesquelles un
fonctionnaire électoral a
pris des mesures dans le
cadre du paragraphe
(3) Every document
purporting to be the
Director’s consent under
subsection (1) is deemed to
be that consent unless it is
called into question by the
Director or by someone
acting for the Director or
for Her Majesty.
(3) L’autorisation fait foi
de son contenu, sous
réserve de sa contestation
par le directeur des
poursuites pénales ou
quiconque agit pour son
compte ou celui de Sa
[45] While it is theoretically possible, I find it difficult to conceive of any situation in which
the Director of Public Prosecutions would consent to a private prosecution in relation to electoral
fraud, a matter of great public interest. Thus the recovery of costs by a private prosecutor is
possible but unlikely in this context.
Page: 20
B. Part 20 of the Act – CONTESTED ELECTIONS
[46] Prior to the enactment of the 2000 Act, procedures to overturn election results were
governed by the above mentioned Dominion Controverted Elections Act, a 19th century statute.
In applications under that legislation the presiding Court could exercise both criminal and civil
jurisdiction. In the various studies and reports on the former legislative regime, these procedures,
requiring a finding of criminal liability, were considered to be cumbersome, costly and timeconsuming
and were, for those reasons, rarely employed. The two jurisdictions, civil and
criminal, were, therefore, treated separately in the 2000 Act.
[47] The criminal process is now left to the Commissioner and the Director of Public
Prosecutions who may initiate investigations and prosecutions under Part 19, where justified by
the evidence and the public interest. The prosecutions may result in penal sanctions against an
individual or individuals.
[48] Part 20 of the Act now provides for civil applications to overturn an election. It is a
complete code for the validity of an election to be challenged by a candidate or an elector and the
result will touch upon the election outcome, not provide sanctions against individuals. The
election of a candidate may not be contested otherwise than in accordance with Part 20, and the
making of an application to contest an election does not affect any right or obligation of a
candidate in that election (s 522).
(1) The Act contemplates parallel criminal and civil processes
Page: 21
[49] The respondent MPs contended initially that criminal investigations and controverted
validity applications in relation to an election should proceed sequentially, with Part 19
procedures being completed first and then Part 20 procedures begun. Parliament intended, they
argued, that annulment under Part 20 should be a last resort when there has been wrongdoing in
the course of an election. To address the strict time limitation on the bringing of an annulment
application imposed by the statute, they suggested that the Court could impose a stay pending the
outcome of the investigation and the prosecution, if any, that might follow within the statutory
limitation period set out in s 514. That is 5 years from the day on which the Commissioner
became aware of the facts giving rise to the prosecution but, in any case, not later than 10 years
after the day on which the offence was committed.
[50] I agree with the Chief Electoral Officer that the Act contemplates that applications to
annul an election may be brought at the same time as an investigation into possible violations of
the Act is conducted by the Commissioner. This conclusion is supported by the time limit
imposed for bringing a civil application, the requirement, in s 525(3), that such applications shall
be dealt with summarily and without delay and the lengthy limitation period for prosecutions
provided for in s 514. It is also consistent with the objective of ensuring the integrity of the
electoral process when the results are found to have been affected by the conduct described in s
524. At the conclusion of the hearing, the respondent MPs conceded that this interpretation was
(2) The test, burden and standard of proof for invalidity
Page: 22
[51] Section 524 allows an elector or candidate to make an application to a court contesting an
election on the grounds that the elected candidate was not eligible or that irregularities, fraud, or
corrupt or illegal practices had affected the result of the election. An election cannot be contested
on the same grounds as those for which a recount may be requested.
[52] Section 524 reads as follows:
524. (1) Any elector who was
eligible to vote in an electoral
district, and any candidate in
an electoral district, may, by
application to a competent
court, contest the election in
that electoral district on the
grounds that
524. (1) Tout électeur qui était
habile à voter dans une
circonscription et tout candidat
dans celle-ci peuvent, par
requête, contester devant le
tribunal compétent l’élection
qui y a été tenue pour les
motifs suivants :
(a) under section 65 the
elected candidate was not
eligible to be a candidate;
a) inéligibilité du candidat
élu au titre de l’article 65;
(b) there were
irregularities, fraud or
corrupt or illegal practices
that affected the result of
the election.
b) irrégularité, fraude,
manoeuvre frauduleuse ou
acte illégal ayant influé sur
le résultat de l’élection.
(2) An application may not be
made on the grounds for which
a recount may be requested
under subsection 301(2).
(2) La contestation ne peut
être fondée sur les motifs
prévus au paragraphe 301(2)
pour un dépouillement
Page: 23
[53] The remedy the court may provide is in s 531(2):
(2) After hearing the
application, the court may
dismiss it if the grounds
referred to in paragraph
524(1)(a) or (b), as the case
may be, are not established
and, where they are
established, shall declare the
election null and void or may
annul the election,
[My emphasis]
(2) Au terme de l’audition, il
peut rejeter la requête; si les
motifs sont établis et selon
qu’il s’agit d’une requête
fondée sur les alinéas 524(1)a)
ou b), il doit constater la
nullité de l’élection du
candidat ou il peut prononcer
son annulation.
[Je souligne]
[54] The Supreme Court determined, at paras 20-22 of Opitz, that the use of the word
“respectively” means that where the grounds in s 524(1)(a) are established, a court must declare
the election null and void; where the grounds in s. 524(1)(b) are established, a court may annul
the election. Under the latter circumstances, the court must decide whether the election held was
compromised in such a way as to justify its annulment.
[55] The use of “established” in s 531(2) places the burden on the applicant throughout. The
applicable standard of proof is the civil standard of proof on a balance of probabilities. The
applicants must establish that electoral fraud occurred and that the results of the election were
affected (Opitz paras 52-53). In the present case, the applicants must establish that in each of the
subject ridings there was at least one elector in each riding who did not vote as a result of the
[56] Among the other principles that I must keep in mind in assessing the degree of
compromise to an election result are the following: annulling an election would disenfranchise
Page: 24
every elector who voted in the riding; the reparative measure that voters will have the
opportunity to vote in a by-election is not a perfect answer for a number of reasons; permitting
elections to be lightly overturned would increase the likelihood of post-election litigation; and a
declaration that an election is annulled may be considered the ultimate public consequence of
violating provisions of the Act and accordingly should be reserved for serious cases (Opitz paras
48, 49 and 70).
[57] This is not a case about “irregularities” in the electoral process impugning some of the
votes cast, as addressed in Opitz. The objection to the election of the respondent MPs in this
instance is based on allegations of “fraud or corrupt or illegal practices that affected the result of
the election” made against a person or persons unknown. As the Supreme Court noted in raising
the bar for irregularities by analogy to the other language used in s 524, these are very serious
matters. Where they occur, the electoral process will be corroded (Opitz, para 43).
[58] Examples of “corrupt practices” and “illegal practices” are given in the statute but no
formal definition of these terms or of “fraud” is provided. There are a number of Part 19
provisions dealing with offences that would constitute fraud or corrupt or illegal practices, such
as wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting (ss 281(g) and
491(3)(d)), and inducing a person by pretence of contrivance to vote or refrain from voting or to
vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate in an election (s 482(b)). The Act also
creates offences that may apply to the actions of candidates and their official agents under the
heading of “illegal and corrupt practices” in s 502, which may also fall within the scope of s 524.
Page: 25
[59] While the commission of these Part 19 offences may constitute electoral fraud or corrupt
or illegal practices for the purposes of s 524, the construction of those terms in s 524 is not
limited to the scope of those offences. There is no indication in the Act that such was the intent
of Parliament.
[60] As stated at paragraph 36 of the majority’s reasons in Opitz, “the words of an Act are to
be read in their “entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with
the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament”: Bell ExpressVu
Limited Partnership v. Rex, 2002 SCC 42, [2002] 2 SCR 559, at para. 26, citing E. A. Driedger,
Construction of Statutes (2nd ed. 1983), at p. 87.”) Protecting the integrity of the democratic
process is a central purpose of the Act in order to ensure the constitutional right to vote and the
enfranchising purpose of the statute. In the context of s 524, “fraud”, “corrupt practices” or
“illegal practices” should therefore be defined in their ordinary and grammatical sense
employing the dictionary definitions of the words to serve that purpose.
(3) The meaning of “fraud” in s 524(1)
[61] In the course of argument, counsel drew my attention to statements by an official before
the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when Bill C-2, the proposed new
Canada Evidence Act, was before Parliament in April 2000. The statement was to the effect that
the intent of the Government was to adopt a meaning of “fraud” which corresponded to the
meaning in the criminal context: testimony of Mr. Michael Peirce, Counsel, Director, Legal
Operations, Legislation and House Planning, Privy Council Office, in Senate of Canada,
Page: 26
Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (5 April
[62] While such statements are of assistance in understanding the intent of the proponents of a
legislative measure, they do not determine the parliamentary intent. Applying the ordinary
dictionary definition of the word, fraud is 1) the action or an instance of deceiving someone in
order to make money or obtain an advantage illegally, 2) a person or thing that is not what it is
claimed or expected to be, 3) a dishonest trick or stratagem: Concise Canadian Oxford
Dictionary, 2005 ed, sub verbo “fraud”.
[63] The concept of fraud invalidating transactions of a civil nature has a long history in the
common law. In civil law, fraud is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a
material fact giving rise to a claim of damages for the loss sustained or the avoidance of a
contract: Bryan A Garner, ed, Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed (St Paul, Minnesota: West Group,
[64] As discussed by Justice Lederer at para 47 of Wrzesnewskyj, above:
Fraud is proved when it is shewn that a false representation has
been made (1) knowingly, or (2) without belief in its truth, or (3)
recklessly, careless whether it be true or false." (see: Derry v. Peek,
[1886-1890] All E.R. Rep. 1 (H.L.); adopted in Vale v. Sun Life
Assurance Co. of Canada, [1998] O.J. No. 6465 at para. 18 (Gen.
Div.) (QL); and, Gregory v. Jolley, [2001] O.J. No. 2313 at para.
15 (C.A.) (QL); as quoted in Canada v. Granitile Inc., 2008 CanLII
63568 (Ont. Sup. Ct. J.) at para. 286).
Page: 27
[65] In the context of the Act as a whole, the object of the Act and the ordinary and gramatical
meaning of fraud, it is sufficient to show that a false representation has been made in an attempt
to prevent electors from exercising their right to vote for the candidate of their choice: Friesen v
Hammell, 1999 BCCA 23 at para 75.
[66] The respondent MPs contend that if the acts alleged to be contrary to s 524 also constitute
offences under the Act, they must be proven to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. In
making that argument counsel for the respondent MPs relied upon jurisprudence under the old
Dominion Controverted Elections Act. That statute, as I noted above, is of little assistance in
interpreting the modern legislation as the civil consequences of a violation, such as annulment,
flowed from the conviction of the perpetrator. It was, therefore, necessary to first establish the
guilt of an individual on the criminal law standard. That is no longer the case as I read s 524 and
the related provisions in Part 20. Authorship of the fraud and the guilt of any person or persons
are not material. What is relevant is the fact of the fraud and the effect it had on the outcome.
[67] As discussed by Justice Lederer at para 53 of Wrzesnewskyj:
In the present case, there is no charge; no one is at risk of any
penalty being imposed as a result of any finding that may be made,
nor has anyone been convicted of any offence under the Canada
Elections Act. [. . .] In Johnson v. Yake, the election was declared
void because the two individuals were found guilty of such
offences. The finding of guilt was "... the most important point ..."
… [. . .] Under s. 51 of the legislation applicable in that case, a
candidate's election would be void if it was found that any corrupt
or illegal practice had been committed by the candidate and/or his
agent. The offences charged would have to be proven beyond a
reasonable doubt, but the voiding of the election flowed
automatically from the convictions.
Page: 28
[68] A finding of guilt is no longer “the most important point”. The Québec Court of Appeal
reached a similar conclusion in interpreting the provisions of the Québec Election Act, RSQ, c E-
3.3. In Pellerin v Thérien, 1997 Carswell Que 214, 148 DLR (4th) 255, [1997] RJQ 816 (CA), the
appellant challenged the constitutionality of s 465 of that Election Act, which stipulates that the
standard of proof in civil matters applies in an application to oppose an election. The appellant
contended that a declaration of annulment of an election could result in the suspension of his
political rights, a sanction he characterized as penal and thus requiring proof beyond a reasonable
doubt. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding at paragraphs 118-119 that the two aspects of
control over elections are distinct and require the application of different substantive principles
and rules of evidence. In particular, the fact that a breach of the statute might result in the
invalidity of an election did not require the application of the criminal standard of proof.
[69] I agree with the submission of the Chief Electoral Officer that any action or instance
meeting the dictionary definition of fraud would constitute electoral fraud where it was done in
contravention of a provision of the Canada Elections Act or where it served to defeat a process
provided for in that Act. It seems to me to be clear that deliberately misinforming electors about
their polling location would thus be fraud within the meaning of s 524 and is provable on the
civil standard.
[70] I also accept the submissions of the applicants and the Chief Electoral Officer that in
considering whether the integrity of the electoral process has been compromised, the Court may
take into account admissible evidence which shows that the fraud was of a broader scope than
the manifestations of it which occurred in a single district that is the subject of an application.
Page: 29
That is of relevance in these proceedings because of the evidence of fraud occurring in the
Guelph district.
(4) “…that affected the result of the Election.”
[71] This phrase speaks to the election results as a whole in each district. It is not necessary
that the fraud or corrupt or illegal practice affected the vote of the elector or candidate who
brings an annulment application. But it does require that one or more votes were improperly cast
or denied in the district where the application is brought and that this had an effect on the
outcome in that riding.
[72] As the majority in Opitz observed at paragraph 25, “affected the result” includes a
situation where a person entitled to vote was improperly prevented from doing so. In an election
marred by procedural irregularities or electoral fraud, even one invalid or suppressed vote could
in principle affect the result. But would it justify annulment?
[73] In Opitz, at paragraph 61, the Supreme Court noted that an applicant who has led
evidence from which an irregularity could be found will have met his or her prima facie
evidentiary burden. At that point, the respondent runs the risk of having the votes in issue set
aside, unless he or she can adduce or point to evidence from which it may reasonably be inferred
that no irregularity occurred, or that despite the irregularity, the votes in question were
nevertheless valid. The applicants rely on this to assert that they need only raise a prima facie
Page: 30
case of fraud from which an inference may be drawn that the results were affected and that,
having done so, the burden of proof then shifts to the respondents.
[74] The Supreme Court’s reference to a prima facie case arose in the specific context where
the applicant could not directly prove that a non-entitled person voted. The Court recognized that
prima facie proof that an irregularity occurred may be sufficient to permit the necessary factual
inferences to be drawn to meet the civil standard of proof. In those circumstances, the respondent
bears the risk of annulment if it can not be established that an ineligible vote was not cast or that
it did not affect the results. Absent a statutory direction to the contrary, which is not present here,
the burden of proof never shifts to the responding party and the standard remains that of the
balance of probabilities: FH v McDougall, 2008 SCC 53 at para 40.
[75] In Opitz, the Supreme Court used the “magic number” test to determine whether the
application judge should have annulled the result. The test was explained at paras 71-73:
71 To date, the only approach taken by Canadian courts in
assessing contested election applications has been the "magic
number" test referred to in O'Brien (p. 93). On this test, the
election must be annulled if the rejected votes are equal to or
outnumber the winner's plurality (Blanchard, at p. 320).
72 The "magic number" test is simple. However, it inherently
favours the challenger. It assumes that all of the rejected votes
were cast for the successful candidate. In reality, this is highly
improbable. However, no alternative test has been developed. No
evidence has been presented in this case to support any form of
statistical test that would be reliable and that would not
compromise the secrecy of the ballot.
73 Accordingly, for the purposes of this application, we would
utilize the magic number test. The election should be annulled
when the number of rejected votes is equal to or greater than the
successful candidate's margin of victory. However, we do not rule
out the possibility that another, more realistic method for assessing
Page: 31
contested election applications might be adopted by a court in a
future case.
[76] The majority acknowledged, at para 73, “…that another, more realistic method for
assessing contested election applications might be adopted by a court in a future case.” The
Supreme Court thus left open the question of whether irregularities could be such as to call into
question the integrity of the electoral process. That conclusion may be reached more easily, I
expect, where the ground cited for annulment is not irregularities at the ballot box but electoral
fraud, corruption or illegality.
[77] The Chief Electoral Officer submitted that the Court might consider what it termed a
“reverse magic number test” - where the number of individuals who were prevented from voting
as a result of the fraud exceeds the margin of victory of the successful candidate - to determine
whether the results of the vote was affected in each riding. The “reverse magic number test” has
the same inherent bias described by the Supreme Court at para 74 of Opitz; it assumes that the
individuals who did not vote would all have voted identically, which in the reverse test would
mean not voting for the successful candidate. In this context it bears the added complication that
the suppressed votes may have been cast for several unsuccessful candidates. There is no
assurance that the second-place finisher would have been successful.
[78] The applicants contend that the Court may annul the election either where the number of
impugned votes is sufficient to cast doubt upon the true winner or where the fraudulent activities
are such as to call into question the integrity of the electoral process. They argue that the election
Page: 32
may be annulled if fraud casts doubt on its integrity even if the fraud does not raise doubts as to
the true winner, relying on the Supreme Court’s comments at paragraph 43 of Opitz:
The common thread between the words "irregularities, fraud or corrupt or illegal
practices" is the seriousness of the conduct and its impact on the integrity of the electoral
process. Fraud, corruption and illegal practices are serious. Where they occur, the
electoral process will be corroded. In associating the word "irregularity" with those
words, Parliament must have contemplated mistakes and administrative errors that are
serious and capable of undermining the integrity of the electoral process. (See Cusimano
v. Toronto (City), 2011 ONSC 7271, 287 O.A.C. 355, at para. 62.)
[79] The assessment of whether the impact of fraud affecting the result of the election is
sufficient to warrant annulling the election result falls within the application of the judge’s
discretion under s 531. If the number of suppressed votes is sufficient to cast doubt on the true
winner, the Court has an easier task. Absent a clear finding to that effect, the more difficult
question is whether the fraud, corrupt or illegal practice, if proven, was sufficiently serious to
call the integrity of the election process into question.
[80] The applicants cite American jurisprudence for the notion that election results may be
overturned where fraud has affected the integrity of the election regardless of whether there is
evidence of the number of votes affected. The American cases point to the difficulty in each
instance of establishing how votes would have been cast if the election had not been
overshadowed by irregularities or electoral fraud. But in each case it was found to matter
whether doubt had been cast on the outcome even if the contestants could not prove that they
would have been elected but for the fraud or irregularity: Penta v City of Revere, 8 Mass L Rep
106 at fn 20 (Mass Super Ct 1997), 1997 Mass Super LEXIS 62; Gooch v Hendrix, 851 P 2d
1321 at p 1331 (Cal Sup Ct 1993), 1993 Cal LEXIS 2497; Valence v Rosiere, 675 So 2d 1138 at
p 1139 (La Ct App 5th Ct 1996), 1996 La App LEXIS 953; Marks v Stinson, 19 F 3d 873 (3d Cir
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1994) at p 886, 1994 US App LEXIS 4602; Bell v Southwell, 376 F 2d 659 (5th Cir 1967) at pp
662, 664, 1967 US App LEXIS 6731.
[81] What may constitute a corrosive effect on the integrity of the electoral process will
depend on the facts of each case. I do not read the comments of the majority in paragraph 43 of
Opitz as providing authority for the proposition that the Court may overturn election results in
every case in which electoral fraud, corruption or illegal practices have been demonstrated. In
that paragraph, the Supreme Court cited Cusimano v Toronto (City), 2011 ONSC 7271, [2011]
OJ No 5986 (QL) at para 62: “An election will only be set aside where the irregularity either
violates a fundamental democratic principle or calls into question whether the tabulated vote
actually reflects the will of the electorate.”
[82] At paragraph 48 of Opitz, the majority cautioned that annulling an election would
disenfranchise not only those persons whose votes were disqualified (in the context of an
irregularities case) but every elector who voted in the riding. That suggests, in my view, that the
Court should only exercise its discretion to annul when there is serious reason to believe that the
results would have been different but for the fraud or when an electoral candidate or agent is
directly involved in the fraud.
[83] In summary, there are three steps required to annul under the Act in the context of the
vote suppression allegations before the Court. The applicants must first demonstrate one of the
four circumstances in s 524(1)(b): irregularities, fraud, corrupt practices, or illegal practices.
Once the first step has been achieved, if even a single vote is shown to not have been cast due to
Page: 34
one of the four above circumstances in a subject riding, the Court acquires the discretionary
power to annul the results in that district under 531(2). The third step is for the Court to consider
either the “magic number” test (explained in Opitz at paras 71-72) or another appropriate test
(envisaged by Opitz at para 73) and decide whether to exercise its discretionary power.
(5) When Must an Application to Annul be Made?
[84] The time limit for making an application is set out in s 527;
527. An application based on a
ground set out in paragraph
524(1)(b) must be filed within
30 days after the later of
(a) the day on which the result
of the contested election is
published in the Canada
Gazette, and
(b) the day on which the
applicant first knew or should
have known of the occurrence
of the alleged irregularity,
fraud, corrupt practice or
illegal practice.
[Emphasis added]
527. La requête en contestation
fondée sur l’alinéa 524(1)b)
doit être présentée dans les
trente jours suivant la date de
la publication dans la Gazette
du Canada du résultat de
l’élection contestée ou, si elle
est postérieure, la date à
laquelle le requérant a appris,
ou aurait dû savoir, que les
irrégularité, fraude, manoeuvre
frauduleuse ou acte illégal
allégués ont été commis.
[Je souligne]
[85] Pursuant to s 526 (1) of the Act, applications must be accompanied by security for costs
in the amount of $1,000, and must be served on the Attorney General of Canada, the Chief
Electoral Officer, the returning officer of the electoral district in question and all the candidates
in that electoral district. The Act is silent as to whether service must be effected prior to filing
Page: 35
but the usual practice is for originating notices to be filed first and served later. Rule 304 of the
Federal Courts Rules provides that an originating notice of application must be served on the
respondents and proof of service filed within ten days of issuance of the notice.
[86] There does not appear to be any jurisprudence on the meaning and effect of the
requirement under this Act that security for costs accompany the application. It was in the
predecessor legislation and dates back for many years. The object of a similar provision, of equal
long-standing, in s 60 of the Patent Act, is to deter irresponsible invalidation actions: Apotex Inc
v Hoffman-La Roche Ltd, [1980] 2 FC 586 at para 28. The amount, $1000, was no doubt a
significant deterrent in 1900 but is clearly inadequate to serve that purpose to-day. Where the
plaintiff has failed to make payment in proceedings under the Patent Act, the Court has been
prepared to relieve against the infraction: Teva Canada Ltd v OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc, [2012]
FCJ No 1670 (QL) at para 21. Similarly, I find that a defect under this Act may be cured by
payment into court subsequent to the filing of the application. It is not a ground for dismissing
the application at this stage of the proceeding.
[87] The time-limit in s 527 is mandatory. The Act does not allow for the exercise of
discretion by the Court to extend the time within which an application may be brought. This was
also the rule for the similar provision in the predecessor legislation, s 12 of the Dominion
Controverted Elections Act: Money v Rankin, [1909] OJ No 75 (QL) (HCJ) at paras 9-10.
[88] Parliament’s intent appears to be that such applications should be brought and dealt with
without delay. The respondent MPs and the Chief Electoral Officer observe that the Act
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contemplates the filing of applications on the basis of mere allegations before they can be
substantiated, in order to meet the limitation period. This may have the undesirable effect of
encouraging litigation that is not well-founded but such applications may, of course, be
withdrawn if evidence to support them is not uncovered.
[89] Where 527(a) does not apply, as here, the thirty day limit begins to run only when the
occurrence was discovered or was reasonably discoverable in the circumstances. There is no
outside time-limit in the Act for bringing an application on freshly discovered grounds, other
than that presumably imposed by the Parliamentary term as the matter would then become moot
when another election was convened.
[90] In interpreting s 527(b), the Court should seek to find a balance between the objective of
discouraging untimely applications that have no prospect of success and those that address
serious concerns with the integrity of the electoral process.
(6) Section 527, “knew or should have known”
[91] The legislation leaves the door open for an application that is brought within thirty days
of the day when the elector or candidate “knew or should have known” of the occurrence (in
French, “a appris, ou aurait dû savoir”). The language “knew or should have known” allows for
some flexibility in determining on the evidence when the applicant had actual or imputed
knowledge of the occurrence sufficient to start the 30 day deadline running.
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[92] The first part of the phrase “knew or should have known” refers to actual knowledge on
the part of the applicant. The words “or should have known” impose an objective standard.
Prothonotary Milczynski described that aspect of the test in Bielli, supra, at para 22:
What an applicant “should have known” is a factual inquiry,
guided by the principles developed in the case law with respect to
discoverability and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn
from the facts and surrounding circumstances of a particular case.
It is not a determination based on the subjective or individual
perception or experience, but what is reasonable to conclude
regarding what a person ought to have known in the circumstances.
[93] It is a question of fact for the court to determine whether an applicant knew or should
have known of the event earlier and brought the application in a more timely manner.
[94] Having set out the legal framework that governs this decision, I will now turn to the
issues in this case beginning with the motions that remained outstanding at the start of the
IV. Analysis
A. Preliminary motions
(1) Was there maintenance and champerty by the Council of Canadians?
[95] At common law, maintenance is the promotion or support of contentious legal
proceedings by a stranger who has no direct concern in the proceedings. It consists, usually, in
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financial assistance to bear the whole or part of the cost of the action or in saving a litigant
expenses that might otherwise be incurred. Champerty is an aggravated form of maintenance in
unlawfully maintaining an action in consideration of an agreement to receive part of anything
that may be gained as a result of the proceedings, or some other profit: Woroniuk v Woroniuk,
[1977] OJ No 2424 (QL) (SCO) at para 9, citing Fleming, Law of Torts, 3rd ed., pp. 592-3.
[96] The concept of maintenance and champerty has been preserved in some provincial
legislation (An Act respecting Champerty, RSO 1897, c 327) and remains an active common law
doctrine in some provinces and in Federal Court practice: see for example, Fredrickson v
Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, [1986] BCJ No 366 (QL); Ernst & Young Inc v
Chartis Insurance Co of Canada, 2012 ONSC 5020 at para 146; Tacan v Canada, 2003 FC 915
at paras 6-11.
[97] Where the concept remains alive, two requirements are necessary. The first is that the
party must have an "improper motive" in maintaining the action. The second is that the plaintiff
must be otherwise not disposed to enforce its legal rights against the defendant, but for the
“officious intermeddling” of the maintainer: McIntyre Estate et al v Ontario (Attorney General)
(2002), 61 OR (3d) 257 (CA) [McIntyre Estate]; Buday et al v Locator of Missing Heirs Inc
(1993), 16 OR (3d) 257 (CA); Stetson Oil & Gas Ltd v Thomas Weisel Partners Canada Inc,
[2009] OJ No 1264 (QL) (SCJ).
[98] The respondent MPs’ motion alleged that the applicants in this case were enlisted to serve
as surrogates for the Council, an organization said to have a long-standing animus against the
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Conservative Party of Canada. They asserted that the Council was profiting by these applications
in that it was conducting fund-raising activities in support of the applicants and benefited from
the increased profile that it had gained from this case.
[99] The respondent MPs claim that the Council has an advantage as it is not subject to the
rules on political party financing. While that may be true, the applicants reply, the Council is not
a registered charity and contributions in its hands are fully taxed whereas contributions to the
Conservative Party, which may be used to pay the respondent MPs’ costs for this litigation, are
subsidized by as much as 75% by the taxpayer (Income Tax Act, RSC 1985, c 1 (5th Supp), s
127(3); Canada Elections Act, s 438(3)).
[100] In support of the motion, the respondent MPs filed the affidavit of Peter J. Henein, a
lawyer with the firm that is counsel to the respondent MPs in these proceedings, to which were
attached 84 exhibits consisting of some 700 pages of documentary material taken from the
Council’s website, news reports, press releases and other sources. Much of the content of the
118 paragraphs of the affidavit consists of statements alleging political motivations on the part of
Maude Barlow, the Council’s National Chairperson, and Steven Shrybman, counsel for the
applicants in these proceedings and of record for the Council in other proceedings. It is alleged,
among other things, that the litigation in this case was motivated by animus against Prime
Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada and that the Council was closely
associated with the New Democratic Party and labour unions.
(a) Is Mr. Henein’s affidavit admissible?
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[101] As noted above, a motion was brought by the applicants to strike the Henein affidavit on
the ground that it was contrary to Rule 82 of the Federal Courts Rules. The motion to strike was
withdrawn without prejudice to the applicants’ right to impugn the evidence at the hearing.
[102] Rule 82 provides as follows:
82. Except with leave of the
Court, a solicitor shall not both
depose to an affidavit and
present argument to the Court
based on that affidavit.
82. Sauf avec l’autorisation de
la Cour, un avocat ne peut à la
fois être l’auteur d’un affidavit
et présenter à la Cour des
arguments fondés sur cet
[103] The Rule has been applied not just to counsel of record but also to members of the same
law firm that represents one of the parties before the Court: Addo v OT Africa Line, 2006 FC
[104] In applying the Rule, the Court may accept an affidavit from a member of the firm of
solicitors representing a party on a motion where the affidavit is restricted to non-controversial
matters such as the furnishing of undisputed documents or the recitation of undisputed facts.
However, where such affidavits go further and include matters that are disputed or controversial
or are expressions of opinion or state of mind, the Court will be reluctant to accept or give
weight to such evidence: AB Hassle v Apotex Inc, 2008 FC 184 at para 46.
[105] As discussed by Stratas JA in Pluri Vox Media Corp v Canada, 2012 FCA 18 at paras 3
to 13, the purpose of Rule 82 is to prevent, as much as possible, “the invidious circumstances
that can arise when lawyers act as both witnesses and advocates in the same matter” (para 3). In
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that case, the affidavit was admitted given the uncontroversial nature of the exhibits and their
minimal importance to the motion. That is not the case here. Mr. Henein’s affidavit goes directly
to the substance of the motion and to the merits of the applications.
[106] The Court may have been inclined to overlook the Rule 82 difficulty with Mr. Henein’s
affidavit had it been confined to the facts supporting the motion. The purpose of an affidavit is to
adduce facts relevant to the dispute without gloss or explanation: Canada (Attorney General) v
Quadrini, 2010 FCA 47 at para 18. However, the Henein affidavit is replete with statements of
opinion, argumentation, allegations against opposing counsel and conclusions of law on the very
issues which are before the Court for determination.
[107] The usual remedy for an affidavit that contains portions that are tendentious, opinionated
and argumentative is to strike out those portions upon a motion prior to the hearing: Deigan v
Canada (1996), 206 NR 195 (FCA). Where the arguments and conclusions of law are
unseverable the entire affidavit should be struck: Duyvenbode v Canada, 2009 FCA 120. That
was not done in this case due to the pre-hearing arrangement between the parties not to crossexamine
each others’ deponents and withdrawal of the motion to strike the Henein affidavit. But
in my view the content of the affidavit, other than as a vehicle to introduce the exhibits, was
improper and I will exercise my discretion to give it no weight or probative value. The exhibits
remain part of the record.
(b) Conclusion on maintenance and champerty
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[108] There is no maintenance if the alleged maintainer had a legitimate motive and was not
acting maliciously: Adi v Datta, 2011 ONSC 2496 at para 54. The respondents allege that the
Council’s motive in providing financial assistance to the applicants is to attack the Conservative
Party of Canada and the Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
[109] It appears from the record, including certain of the exhibits attached to the Henein
affidavit, that throughout its existence, the Council has been a consistent critic of government
actions whatever party was in office. I was taken to several examples where the Council had
unkind things to say about the former Liberal Government. I was not therefore, convinced that
the Council’s motivations in indemnifying the applicants against costs in this case were driven
by a particular animus against the current Prime Minister and his party, as opposed to the broader
public interest in clean elections.
[110] Even if the Council’s motives in supporting the applications were politically partisan
they would not be grounds for dismissal of these applications. At best, while I consider it
doubtful, the allegations might support an independent cause of action against the Council by the
respondent MPs: Kroeker v Harkema Express Lines Ltd (1973), 2 OR (2d) 210 (H Ct J) at para 5,
citing Skelton v Baxter, [1916] 1 KB 321 at p 326 (CA). They do not constitute eligible grounds
under s 531(1) of the Act (“vexatious, frivolous, or not made in good faith”) which refer to the
motives of the applicants themselves. Their motives have not been impugned in these
proceedings. Therefore, even if the conduct of the Council was seen to be “officious
intermeddling” to the degree that it may be actionable, the Court would have no jurisdiction to
dismiss these applications.
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[111] As a general rule, the Courts will not concern themselves with how a lawsuit is funded:
Jacobi v Newell, [1992] AJ No 1087 (QB) (QL). Maintenance and champerty may still have
some relevance to-day in the context of disputes between private parties over contractual
arrangements and property rights. The concepts are inconsistent, in my view, with the
recognition in modern society of the role of non-governmental organizations in facilitating
access to justice and the validity of alternative arrangements for funding litigation, such as
contingency fees: McIntyre Estate, above. The costs of litigating, particularly when facing wellresourced
respondents, are formidable.
[112] Here, the applicants have no prospect of financial reward from these proceedings and
there are issues of broad public interest at stake. It is doubtful that they would have had the
financial ability to bring these applications on their own without support from some agency. The
ability of citizens to bring matters before the courts in the public interest should not be deterred:
Re Lavigne and Ontario Public Service Employees Union et al (No. 2), [1987] OJ No 653 (QL)
(HCJ) [Lavigne] at para 106, rev’d but aff’d as to costs [1989] OJ No 95 (CA) (QL) at paras 100-
107, appeal judgment aff’d [1991] 2 SCR 211.
[113] There is no evidence that the applicants acted for any reason other than to assert their
rights to a fair election as Canadian citizens and electors.
[114] The fundamental aim of the law of champerty has always been to protect the
administration of justice from abuse. It is not an abuse of the Court’s process for an elector, with
or without the support of a non-governmental organization, to bring an application to contest an
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election where there is evidence of an attempt to affect the results of that election through fraud.
This is particularly true where the right to bring the application arises by statute and does not
find its basis in any agreement with the third party: S v K (1986), 55 OR (2d) 111 (Ont District
[115] Thus, even had I accepted the Henein affidavit as admissible and of probative value, I
would dismiss the motion to strike the applications on the ground of champerty. The motion was,
in my view, an attempt to derail these applications before they could be heard and determined on
the merits and was brought without justification.
(2) Are the Applications Statute-Barred?
[116] The Election was held on May 2, 2011. The Election results for the ridings in question
were published in the Canada Gazette between May 17, 2011 and May 26, 2011
[117] The applications were filed on March 23, 2012 [Burkhart (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar),
Reid (Elmwood-Transcona), McEwing and Kerr (Winnipeg South Centre), and Ferance and
Walsh Craig (Nipissing-Timiskaming)] and March 26, 2012 [Kafka (Vancouver Island North),
and Parlee (Yukon)]. The respondent MPs submit that they are out of time as they were not filed
within 30 days of the date on which the applicants knew or ought to have known of the
occurrence of the fraud or the corrupt or illegal practice relating to the telephone calls. Even if
the applicants did not know of these until the media reports appeared in February 2012, by the
respondent MPs’ calculation they still missed the 30 day limitation period, in part because 2012
was a leap year.
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[118] The respondent MPs argue also that because the applications were not initially
accompanied by the security for costs required by the statute they did not become complete until
those sums were paid, after the 30 days were up, and thus were not “filed” within time. As noted
above, I find that the Court can relieve against any such failure to make payment and in the
present case I consider any delay in that respect to have been cured.
[119] The applicants’ evidence is that while they knew of the calls they had received on or
before May 2, 2011, they did not suspect that the calls were attempts to mislead them until the
story of the investigation broke in the national media on and after February 22, 2012. There is
evidence that the CBC reported that Elections Canada was warning voters to ignore false
information about polling station changes before the polls opened on May 2, 2011 and evidence
of several media reports after the Election. The evidence does not establish how widely those
reports were disseminated, how often they were repeated by media outlets or whether they were
published by local news media. There is no evidence that the applicants saw or heard any of
these early news reports.
[120] The applicants say that they did not know that the calls they received were not from
Elections Canada or candidates at the time they were received. They did not discover that the
calls were false and maliciously motivated until: in the case of the applicants Ferance, Walsh
Craig, Kafka, and McEwing, late February 2012, and for Parlee, Reid, and Kerr, early March
2012. Kay Burkhart, applicant in the district of Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, is silent on when
she became aware of the occurrence. Supporting affidavits from Gail Nardi (Yukon) and
Christopher Lanctot (Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar) also state that they became aware of the
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occurrence in early March. As none of the applicants and supporting electors were crossexamined
on their affidavits this evidence remains uncontroverted.
[121] The Supreme Court expressed the concern in Opitz, at para 56, that Part 20 of the Act "…
should not be taken by losing candidates as an invitation to examine the election records… in the
hopes of getting a second chance". This is not such a case. These applications do not constitute
an abuse of s 524. They are brought out of legitimate concerns that the electoral process was
violated by persons seeking to suppress the applicants’ votes.
[122] The respondent MPs rely on Hilton v Norgaard, [1992] BCJ No 1742 (QL) (SC). In that
case, several town council members sought the disqualification of the mayor on conflict of
interest grounds. The council members had been aware of the grounds for the application for
some considerable time but delayed in bringing their application until they had obtained legal
advice that they had sufficient information to proceed. That situation bears little resemblance to
the facts of this matter.
[123] In this instance, the applicants were not put on notice of the fraud by their awareness of
the calls that they had received. Nor were they aware of the fact that those calls were part of an
orchestrated campaign of misdirection. That fact was not readily discoverable by them with a
reasonable exercise of diligence within thirty days of the occurrence. The applicants bore no
individual responsibility to make in-depth inquiries about the calls they had received.
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[124] The Court is unable to make a finding that the applicants knew or ought to have known of
the fraudulent occurrences prior to the media reports that began on or about February 22, 2012. It
would have taken some time for those reports to be disseminated widely in Canada. There is no
evidence before me that the applicants knew of the complaints that were reported in the
immediate aftermath of the election. It is not reasonable to expect that the average Canadian
elector would have understood that the calls received on or before May 2, 2011 were not from
Elections Canada until they saw the national media reports and made the connection between the
calls they received and the investigations.
[125] The evidence is not clear as to precisely when the applicants became aware of the
misrepresentations. Several of them took steps to obtain or to attempt to obtain their phone
records and contacted Elections Canada to make complaints after they learned of the news
stories. This was, I infer, the result of a dawning awareness that there had been a fraudulent
attempt to divert them from their proper polling station. It was only in the latter stages of this
process that they realized what had occurred.
[126] I accept that strict compliance with the time limitations is required to ensure that
frivolous applications to annul elections are not made as a form of entertainment. That is a
concern that I think carries more weight when the grounds of invalidity are “irregularities”. This
is not such a case. Where electoral fraud is alleged and substantiated, the Court should be
reluctant to deny the applicants a hearing on what may appear to be a technical, procedural
ground advanced by a party that has an interest in preserving the result.
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[127] If I am wrong in my assessment, I would prefer to err on the side of the applicants given
the resources invested to date and the importance of the public interest in this case. In the
circumstances, I am not prepared to find that the applicants are out of time to bring these
(3) Should the opinion evidence of Mr. Graves be struck?
[128] Mr. Graves is the founder and President of EKOS Research Associates Inc., a public
policy, survey and research firm. Mr. Graves’ evidence (the EKOS Survey) was presented as
that of an expert in research methodology and design, and applied statistical analysis. He was
asked to investigate three questions:
a. to what extent may certain voter suppression techniques have been used to
influence the outcome of the 2011 election in the six ridings in question?
b. did any voter suppression activities found to have taken place deliberately target
electors who were supporters of a particular political party or parties?
c. were any such voter suppression techniques and activities effective in
discouraging those who would have otherwise voted from casting a ballot?
[129] EKOS conducted a survey between April 13 and 19, 2012 using Interactive Voice
Response (IVR) technology, which selects respondents through random digit dialing (RDD) and
allows respondents to enter their responses through the use of the keypad on their telephones
rather than speaking with an interviewer. The results of the survey, analysis and conclusions
were presented in a report, completed on April 23, 2012 and revised on October 24, 2012, which
was attached as an exhibit to Mr. Graves’ affidavit and tendered as expert opinion evidence.
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[130] To be admissible, expert opinion evidence must meet the four part test set out in R v
Mohan [1994] 2 SCR 9, [1994] SCJ No 36 (QL) [Mohan], at para 17:
Admission of expert evidence depends on the application of the following criteria:
(a) relevance;
(b) necessity in assisting the trier of fact;
(c) the absence of any exclusionary rule;
(d) a properly qualified expert.
[131] The relevance and necessity of this evidence was clear from the outset. If admitted and
given probative weight, it was capable of supporting the annulment applications. Without it, it
would have been very difficult to determine the truth of the allegations. No applicable
exclusionary rule that would prohibit reception of the evidence was drawn to my attention. The
respondent MPs’s challenge was directed, rather, at the fourth point: Mr. Graves’ qualifications
as an expert and their allegations of partiality or bias.
[132] The respondent MPs contested Mr. Graves’ qualifications for five reasons. They
contended that: he misrepresented his expertise; he and his company are documented supporters
of the Liberal Party; he has a significant adverse relationship with the respondent MPs’ party; he
has acted as an advocate for one of the parties in the case; and he failed to disclose important
[133] On the merits of the opinion, the respondent MPs retained the services of Dr. Ruth
Corbin to provide a critical analysis of the EKOS Survey and Mr. Graves’ evidence.
[134] In reply, the applicants asked Mr. Michael Adams of Environics, a competitor company
to EKOS, and Dr. Maria Barrados, former President of the Public Service Commission and
Assistant Auditor General of Canada to comment on Graves’ reputation in his field. Mr. Adams
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deposed that Graves had “always abided by the highest professional standards” and to his
knowledge never “allowed any personal motives or predilections to have interfered.” He further
commented that “It is not common in our industry for competitors to offer testimonials to the
quality of the work of other polling companies, but I find the attack on Mr Graves’ [sic] so
unfounded and irrelevant, in my view, to the substantive matters at hand that I am compelled to
offer a very different view of his professional integrity.” Dr Barrados stated that Graves has
always, to her knowledge, acted “with the utmost care, integrity and professionalism”, never
allowing his personal views to find their way into his work.
[135] Evidence is not normally admissible merely to bolster the credibility or professionalism
of an expert witness. In this case, however, I found it admissible in light of the concerted attack
on Mr. Graves’ character which I ultimately concluded was unfair.
[136] Among other things, the respondent MPs argue that Mr. Graves represented himself as
having a PhD, when he does not, while at the same time referring dismissively to Dr. Corbin,
who does have a PhD, as Ms. Corbin in his reply affidavits. I am satisfied that Graves did not
misrepresent his credentials and that any errors in that respect were those of the applicants’
counsel in preparing Graves’ evidence for filing. In any event, this complaint was
inconsequential and the errors were immaterial.
[137] The respondent MPs allege that Mr. Graves has made negative public comments about
the Conservative Party. He is, of course, entitled to do so as a private citizen. Some comments
appear to have been taken out of context, such as a remark about extremists in Europe that had
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nothing to do with the Conservative Party. The record also shows donations by Graves to Liberal
Party candidates, which, again, was within his democratic rights. The respondent MPs devoted a
great deal of their cross-examination of Mr. Graves on his affidavit evidence to exploring these
matters. In my view, they did not speak directly to the question of his impartiality as a witness.
[138] When given an opportunity at the hearing to cross-examine on the substance of Graves’
sur-rebuttal affidavit, the MPs counsel persisted in focusing on the details of the modest
contributions he had given to Liberal Party candidates. They did not dwell on the contribution he
had given to a Conservative candidate. In any event, this added nothing of value to the record
that was already before the Court. I note that Graves is not alleged to have had any relationship
with the Liberal candidates in the subject ridings and he does not carry out polling for political
[139] The respondent MPs also alleged that Graves has a strong financial interest in the
outcome of these proceedings, in that government funding for polling by his firm was cut by
more than 80% when the Conservative Party formed the government. That appears, at first
impression, to be significant but this work, he stated, was never a major part of his business and
that assertion was not rebutted.
[140] The Supreme Court has stressed the role of trial judges in excluding unsuitable expert
witnesses: Mohan, above; R v J (J-L), 2000 SCC 51 at paras 28, 47; Dulong v Merrill Lynch
Canada Inc (2006), 80 OR (3d) 378 (SCJ) at para 9; The Federal Courts Rules, SOR/98-106,
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Rule 52.2, Schedule, Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses and jurisprudence also speak to the
importance of impartiality.
[141] The courts have drawn a distinction between the impartiality of the expert’s testimony
and the question of independence. It is not essential that the expert be independent of the party
that calls the witness so long as the opinion given is impartial: Hospira Healthcare Corporation
v Eli Lilly Canada Inc, 2010 FCA 282 at paras 8-9. The cases cited by the respondents all deal
with the objectivity of the expert’s opinion, not activities outside the retainer such as those they
have complained of in this instance: see for example Bank of Montreal v Citak, [2001] OJ No
1096 (SCJ) (QL), where the expert explicitly told the Court that "in every matter of litigation, I
always take the position of advocate for my client” (para 6).
[142] In Es-Sayyid v Canada, 2012 FCA 59 at para 43, the Federal Court of Appeal expressed
grave concerns about the objectivity of the opinion presented because of the author’s editorial
comments which were found therein – “editorial comments [. . .] using language that is
gratuitous, intemperate and ideological”. The type of blatant ideological bias that the Court
found offensive in that opinion is not found in the present matter. Rather, Graves’ opinion is
expressed in cautious terms with recognition of the limitations of the technology employed in the
[143] The respondents assert that Mr. Graves claims to be an expert in fourteen different areas,
too many for true expertise, and that his comments about the lawfulness of the telephone calls
usurp the role of the Court. I agree with the applicants that the number of areas of expertise
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claimed is not a concern; what matters is expertise or lack of it in the area in question. It is trite
law that expert witnesses should not give opinion evidence on matters for which they possess no
special skill, knowledge or training, nor on matters that are commonplace, for which no special
skill, knowledge or training is required: Johnson v Milton (Town), 2008 ONCA 440 at para 50.
[144] The “ultimate issue” rule no longer applies to exclude opinion evidence: Cooper v R,
[1980], 1 SCR 1149; Benoit v Canada, 2002 FCT 243 at para 136; Stetson Oil & Gas Ltd v Stifel
Nicolaus Canada Inc, 2013 ONSC 1300 at para 63. Graves’ remarks about the lawfulness of the
calls are irrelevant to his findings. They did not interfere in any way with the Court’s ability to
assess his methodology and decide whether his data, analysis and opinions satisfied the
applicable legal test.
[145] Comments Graves had made on his Twitter account could, at first impression, be
construed as supporting a finding that he had decided on his conclusion before beginning the
study. On a closer examination, I find that they show him discussing whether analysis of the data
would show a voter suppression effect, then progressing towards hoping to find such an effect.
Some of the tweets, in sequence, say for instance: “That is why I don’t know if it is testable and I
am agnostic as to impacts.”; “From what I understand so far I think the hypothesis of effects is
testable. I am not sure what the results would be.”; “I think one could actually design a statistical
test that would give some guidance on this. I am agnostic as to answers.”; “Damn! maybe it wasn’t
the polls that were off after all. Maybe it was the election.” They gave me some concern but I was
ultimately satisfied on his evidence as a whole, particularly his acknowledgement of the
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weaknesses of the methodology that he had validly arrived at his conclusion through a genuine
analysis of the data.
[146] In arriving at a conclusion on the admissibility of this evidence, I have not overlooked the
fact that Graves demonstrated a lack of common sense and respect for the Court when he
testified. When asked to step outside during a discussion which the Court had with counsel, he
chose to follow the live report of that discussion by journalists in the courtroom. I have reviewed
the transcript of what was said during that discussion and am satisfied that it did not have a
material effect on his testimony. As noted above, I was not persuaded that the line of crossexamination
being pursued by counsel was relevant. I also recognize that Mr. Graves was given
no instruction not to access the reporters’ live transmission from the courtroom nor were the
journalists instructed not to report what was said in his absence. Nonetheless, this showed poor
judgment on Mr. Graves’ part for which he subsequently apologized to the Court.
[147] Having reviewed the arguments and the lengthy cross-examination of Mr. Graves in the
record I was not persuaded that the respondent MPs had made out a case that he was not
qualified to carry out the survey he was retained to conduct or that his opinion reflected
partiality. The respondents have not attacked Mr. Graves’s professional opinions but his personal
views and motivation in accepting the retainer. I was satisfied that he had objectively presented
the challenges and limitations of the survey methodology in his report. I find that his opinion
evidence meets the standard for admissibility set out in Mohan, above. For that reason, I dismiss
the motion to disqualify Mr. Graves and strike his evidence. I will have more to say about the
weight I have given his evidence below.
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B. Admissibility and weight of the evidence
[148] As the applicants acknowledge at the outset of their argument, these applications raise
difficult questions concerning how they might establish, and how the court is to determine, the
effect of the activities carried out by those who are responsible for making the misleading
telephone calls. The applicants were constrained by a number of factors including time,
resources and the secrecy of the ballot.
(1) Evidence of the applicants
[149] The affidavit evidence of each of the applicants themselves is similar. In most cases, the
applicants or their spouses received a telephone call prior to the election from someone
purporting to be calling from the Conservative Party of Canada. They were asked whether the
Conservative Party could rely on their support in the election. The applicants or their spouses
told the callers that they would not be voting for the Conservative Party. Just before or on the
election day, all but one of the applicants received a second telephone call, either live or
recorded, purporting to be from Elections Canada, in which they were advised that their polling
station had changed.
[150] The calls identified an incorrect polling station location. Some of the calls were made
after the applicants had already voted. In the other cases, the applicants checked the information
or knew that it was incorrect. Similar evidence is provided by several other individual electors
who have sworn affidavits in these proceedings.
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[151] Collectively, the applicants’ uncontradicted evidence is that they regarded the
misdirecting calls as erroneous and only learned from the media coverage in February and March
of 2012 that the calls were likely part of an orchestrated campaign to suppress their votes. In no
case did the calls “affect the result” for the current applicants in the sense that they were
prevented from actually voting. Ms. Bielli, the applicant in the seventh and withdrawn
application, had deposed that this was the effect of the call she received.
(2) The ITO evidence
[152] As noted above, public disclosure of Mathews’ Information to Obtain production orders
in relation to the investigation into the electoral offences in Guelph is largely responsible for
having alerted the applicants to the significance of the calls that they received. Subsequently,
another nine ITOs were disclosed as the Commissioner of Canada Elections continued his
investigation into the allegations of violations of the Act across the country.
[153] Efforts by the applicants to obtain evidence from the Commissioner and his staff with
regard to their inquiries were met with a certificate under s 37(1) of the Canada Evidence Act
asserting public interest privilege in the protection of the information on the ground, among
others, that non-disclosure was necessary to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigations.
The ITOs became public records, with redactions, following issuance and execution of the
production orders.
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[154] Copies of the production orders and supporting ITOs that are in the public record of the
issuing courts were made part of the record in these proceedings as exhibits to affidavits. The
respondent MPs agreed to their filing as a matter of expediency but reserved their right to object
to the relevance, admissibility and weight of the content if the records were admitted. Additional
evidence of the complaints received by Elections Canada and subject to the Access to
Information Act, RSC 1985, c A-1, was introduced through the record of the Chief Electoral
Officer (the Babin Affidavit).
[155] At the hearing the respondent MPs objected to any consideration being given to the
content of the ITO's on the ground that much of it was irrelevant, the information was inherently
untrustworthy, it constituted double hearsay and was therefore presumptively inadmissible, and
the necessity of relying upon it had not been established.
[156] The information is double hearsay because much of the content of the ITOs consists of
statements made by complainants and other persons interviewed to the investigators. The ITOs
were attached as exhibits to the affidavits of persons with no personal knowledge of the content
and neither the complainants nor the investigators were available for cross-examination. As a
general principle, affidavits (e.g., here the sworn ITOs) produced as attachments to the affidavits
of others are not given the same weight: 594872 Ontario Inc v Canada (1992), 55 FTR 215 (TD)
at para 14; McLaughlin v. Canada (Attorney General), 2012 FC 556 at para 9.
[157] The traditional formulation of the hearsay rule is that evidence of a statement made to the
recipient by a declarant who is not a witness in the proceedings is inadmissible hearsay when the
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purpose of the evidence is to establish the truth of the contents of the statement. It is not hearsay,
and hence not inadmissible, where the purpose of the evidence is not to establish the truth of the
contents of the statement, but only to prove that the statement was made. Thus much of the
content of the ITOs and the Babin Affidavit would be admissible at common law under the
traditional hearsay rule at least for the limited purpose of establishing the fact that complaints
were made to Elections Canada that misleading calls had been received on election day.
[158] In R v Khan, [1990] 2 SCR 531, [1990] SCJ No 81 (QL), R v Smith, [1992] 2 SCR 915,
[1992] SCJ No 74 (QL), and R v Khelawon, 2006 SCC 57, [2006] 2 SCR 787, the Supreme
Court has simplified the law of hearsay. If hearsay evidence does not fall under one of the
established exceptions to the rule, it may still be admitted if the indicia of reliability and
necessity are established.
[159] In my view, necessity is not an obstacle to admissibility in this case given the limited
sources of evidence available to the applicants and the objection raised by the Commissioner of
Elections to the examination of his investigators. The evidence would not otherwise be available
to the Court. I am also satisfied that the information collected by Public Officers employed to
conduct investigations into electoral fraud and contained in their sworn statements is reliable. I
consider that the evidence is, therefore, admissible under the principled exception to the hearsay
[160] The ITOs contain references to information received from telecommunications service
providers in response to the production orders. This is information maintained in the ordinary
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course of the business of these corporations. The information became part of court records when
produced and filed in the form of returns in response to the production orders. There was no
suggestion in these proceedings, that the information set out in the ITOs was inaccurate or
[161] The ITOs are also admissible, in my view, under the public documents exception to the
hearsay rule. At common law, documents may be admissible on two bases, the principled
exception to the hearsay rule (Khan, above), and by reason that the document is a public
document. The principles of necessity and reliability underlie both: R v WBC, [2000] OJ No 397
(QL) (CA) at paragraph 30; R v Semigak, 2007 NLTD 34 at paragraph 14. Section 24 of the
Canada Evidence Act permits the introduction of copies of public documents but is not an
exclusive code with respect to their admissibility.
[162] As stated by Laskin J.A. in R v AP, [1996] OJ No 2986 (QL) (CA) at para 14:
At common law statements made in public documents are admissible as an exception
to the rule against hearsay evidence. This exception is "founded upon the belief that
public officers will perform their tasks properly, carefully, and honestly." Sopinka et
al. The Law of Evidence in Canada (1992), p. 231. Public documents are admissible
without proof because of their inherent reliability or trustworthiness and because of the
inconvenience of requiring public officials to be present in court to prove them. Rand J.
commented on the rationale for the public documents exception to the hearsay rule in
Finestone v. The Queen (1953), 107 C.C.C. 93 at 95 (S.C.C.):
The grounds for this exception to the hearsay rule are the inconvenience of the
ordinary modes of proof and the trustworthiness of the entry arising from the
duty, and that they apply much more forcefully in the complex governmental
functions of today is beyond controversy.
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[163] The sworn statements of the Public Officers conducting investigations on behalf of the
Commissioner, filed in court in support of applications for production records, satisfy the criteria
for the admissibility of public documents recognized in the jurisprudence. They were made by a
public official, in the discharge of a public duty with the intention that it serve as a permanent
record, and are available for public inspection: R v Semigak, 2007 NLTD 34 at paragraph 14.
The attachments to the Babin Affidavit, consisting of information maintained by Elections
Canada, are admissible under either the public documents exception or the business records
exception to the hearsay rule.
[164] The initial ITOs refer predominantly to information received from electors in Guelph and
several other Ontario cities. In the ITO to obtain the 7th, 8th and 9th production orders relating to
the records of three telecommunications service providers, Investigator Mathews describes the
trail that he had pursued in the Guelph inquiry from his first interviews with complainant electors
following the election in May 2011 through to identifying the source of the calls and the
purchase of the automated call services. The automated messages received followed the pattern
below which was retained as an audio file by one of the Guelph complainants:
This is an automated message from Elections Canada. Due to a
projected increase in poll turnout your voting location has been
changed. Your new voting location is at the Old Quebec Street
mall at 55 Wyndham Street North. Once again, your new poll
location is at the Old Quebec Street mall at 55 Wyndham Street
North. If you have any questions please call our hotline at 1-800-
434-4456. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may
[165] The message was repeated in French. The Old Quebec Street Mall location was a polling
station for voters living within walking distance in the immediate area. It was a considerable
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distance from the complainants’ homes, whereas their correct polling station was, generally,
within 1,000 metres.
[166] There was an immediate reaction to the misleading telephone calls from electors who had
already voted at their local polling stations and from others who had taken the message at face
value and made their way to the Old Quebec Street Mall location. The local Returning Officer’s
office was inundated with calls from voters who had received the misleading messages.
[167] An estimated 150 and 200 voters were misdirected to the Old Quebec Street Mall.
Among this number were elderly or disabled voters and others with children in strollers. Some of
the misdirected electors tore up their voter identification cards when they found that they could
not vote there. Others, who were determined to vote, had difficulty getting to their correct poll in
[168] The complainants interviewed by Mathews had received previous calls from the
Conservative campaign inquiring about their voting intentions and had indicated that it would
not be the Conservative candidate.
[169] The ITO explains that Mathews’ investigation traced the source of the Guelph calls to a
pre-paid mobile phone used to engage the services of RackNine, Inc. to transmit the misleading
polling station messages to 6,737 telephone numbers in the Guelph area early on May 2, 2011.
Instructions to transmit a similar message purporting to come from the Liberal party candidate,
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between 2 a.m. and 4:45 a.m. on election day, to the same numbers, were deleted before they
could be acted upon.
[170] RackNine is a voice broadcasting vendor providing digital Voice over Internet Protocol
(VOIP) calling technology. During the election campaign in 2011, RackNine was under contract
to the Conservative Party not to provide its services to any other political party. RackNine also
did voice broadcasts for the campaign of the CPC candidate in Guelph.
[171] The individual originating the misleading calls used a false name and address in
communicating with RackNine and used anonymous proxy servers based in Saskatchewan and
the United States to pay for the service through the online payment service PayPal. The pre-paid
mobile phone was registered with a false name and address and the subscriber paid for the
RackNine service through Paypal using non-reloadable Visa and Mastercard pre-paid cards
bought anonymously at drug stores in Guelph. There was no suggestion made before me that
RackNine was aware that its automated call services were being used for an improper purpose.
Once the account was established, instructions, including the messages to be transmitted, were
communicated to the RackNine servers via the Internet.
[172] Mr Mathews ascertained that the Internet Protocol (IP) or computer address used by the
originator of the misleading messages was associated with a second IP address in RackNine
records used for voice broadcast orders from the Deputy Campaign Manager for the
Conservative candidate in Guelph. CPC records indicate that the same IP address was used to
access the CPC Constituency Information Management System (“CIMS”) database by 5
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volunteers supporting the Conservative candidate in Guelph. Access to CIMS was limited to
those who had been approved to have access by the CPC and who had been issued unique
passwords. According to a witness interviewed by Mr. Mathews, certain participants in the
Guelph Conservative campaign were overheard discussing making misleading or improper calls
to electors during the campaign and setting up an auto dial arrangement for this purpose that
could not be tracked back to the campaign.
[173] The ITO states that CIMS records indicate that a volunteer with the Guelph campaign
accessed the database on April 30, 2011 for what appeared to be three "Demon dialler" reports
for the area. A "Demon dialler" report is a list of phone numbers which can be configured with
the names of supporters and non-supporters. The CIMS record indicated that the volunteer
downloaded the reports to the local computer he was using. The list used by a RackNine
automated server to make the misleading calls appeared to a CPC official to be a list of identified
non-Conservative supporters that was updated in CIMS on April 27, 2011.
[174] In the tenth ITO sworn on November 2012 and made public on January 15, 2013, seeking
the production of records from Rogers Communications, Investigator John Dickson stated that he
has reasonable grounds to believe that offences contrary to s 491(3)(d) of the Act had been
committed in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The ITO
refers to the several other ITOs sworn by himself and Investigators John Mathews and André
Thouin in relation to records maintained by other service providers such as Bell and Shaw and
Vidéotron in Québec and to similar complaints of misdirection and/or annoyance telephone calls
during the election period.
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[175] Mr. Dickson states that as of October 11, 2012, 1,399 complaints had been received
pertaining to 247 electoral districts, alleging specific occurrences of alleged improper telephone
calls relating to the 2011 general election. 1,048 of those complaints were received following
the release of what has become known as the "robocalls" story in the media on February 23,
2012. Of the total 1,399 complaints, 625 were reports of having been called by either a live or
recorded message claiming to emanate from Elections Canada. The remainder could not be sure
or did not know where the caller claimed to be from. A total of 837 complaints (the numbers
overlap) were reports of harassing telephone calls purportedly from or on behalf of candidates.
Mr. Dickson’s November ITO pertained to 45 complainants known to be Rogers subscribers in
28 different Electoral Districts. He sets out the nature of the complaints regarding the calls
received in each case and describes the steps taken in investigating them.
[176] The content of the ITOs, for the most part, is not seriously contested by the respondent
MPs. There is no suggestion, for example, that Elections Canada contacted electors by telephone
to change their polling station. It is uncontroverted that if a change in polling station were
necessary, as happened at one station in one of the six subject ridings, that change would be
communicated by reprinting and sending new voter information cards to electors or, for lastminute
changes, through media broadcasts and personally by Elections Canada staff posted at the
closed polling station. The complaints and the facts unearthed in the course of the investigations
were not challenged.
[177] The ITO evidence confirms that there was a deliberate attempt at voter suppression
during the 2011 election. However, the object of the Commissioner’s investigations is not to
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determine whether the election results in any specific riding were affected. While the informants
swear that they believe that a person or persons unknown did wilfully prevent or endeavour to
prevent an elector from voting, the purpose of the ITOs is to obtain evidence to establish that an
offence has been committed, not to determine whether the commission of the offence changed
the outcome in any riding. And, in most of the interviews conducted, complainants told the
investigators that they had either voted earlier or disregarded the calls and voted at their usual
polling stations relying on the information on their voter cards.
[178] There is some evidence in the ITOs that individual electors were discouraged from
voting. The clearest example is in Guelph where poll staff reported that voters tore up their
identification cards when told that they had been misdirected to the wrong location. A
complainant in the Rivière-du-Nord district stated that he had not exercised his right to vote
because of a misdirecting phone call. However, while complainants were interviewed in four of
the six ridings that are the subject of these proceedings (Winnipeg South Centre, Vancouver
Island North, Nipissing, Yukon), none of them indicated that they had failed to vote as a result of
the calls.
(3) Mr. Penner’s evidence
[179] In an effort to explain how political parties organize and use telephone calls to potential
electors, the applicants tendered the opinion evidence of Robert Penner, President and Chief
Executive Officer of Strategic Communications Inc. Mr. Penner described himself as a political
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consultant with 20 years of experience in developing and implementing voter contact programs
and other tools for federal provincial and municipal election campaigns.
[180] The respondent MPs objected to Mr. Penner's evidence as unfounded and inadmissible
lay opinion. I am satisfied that in the context of these proceedings, Mr. Penner qualifies as an
expert and that his evidence meets the standard for the admission of opinion evidence. The
evidence is helpful with respect to matters with which the Court has no experience.
[181] Mr. Penner explained how telephone calls were used to identify supporters and to ensure
that they got to the polls. In this regard, his evidence was similar to that of Mr. Andrew
Langhorne, the Chief Operating Officer of Responsive Marketing Group Inc., ("RMG") who
gave evidence for the respondent MPs. Both described the process of voter identification (Voter
ID) during the campaign and the "Get-Out-The-Vote" (GOTV) calls on election day.
[182] Mr. Penner observed that the use of harassing and misleading phone calls involving
misinformation about voter registration requirements or polling locations had become
increasingly common in the United States, which had a long history of such tactics. To his
knowledge, however, voter suppression and harassment had not been reported to be features of
Canadian political campaigns until the 2011 election.
[183] In his opinion, a live or recorded call advising an elector that Elections Canada has made
a last-minute change to the elector's polling station location is almost certain to have been
intended to suppress the vote of that elector if the call was made to a supporter of another party.
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Calls that arrive early in the morning or late at night or that are harassing in nature are more
likely to be made by a competing party seeking to discourage support for the party falsely
presented as having made the call. Access to a party’s central database is carefully controlled.
The calls at issue in these proceedings are most likely to have been organized by a person or
persons with: i) access to the central information system of a political party that included contact
information about non-supporters; ii) the financial resources to contract voice and automated
service providers to make such calls; and iii) the authority to make such decisions.
[184] I found the evidence of Mr. Penner helpful in that it was consistent with the picture that
has emerged from the evidence as a whole; that there was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes
during the 2011 election campaign by a person or persons with access to the CIMS database.
(4) The evidence of Ms. Desgagné and Mr. Langhorne
[185] Ms. Desgagné was employed by RMG at a call centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario, prior to
and during the 2011 election, making Voter ID and GOTV calls on behalf of the CPC. Upon
hearing media reports about misleading information concerning polling station locations being
conveyed to electors by telephone calls, Ms. Desgagné brought concerns about the involvement
of her call centre to the attention of the RCMP and Elections Canada. As a result, she ultimately
provided an affidavit in April 2012 which was filed by the applicants in these proceedings. She
was cross-examined by the respondent MPs on that and on a supplementary affidavit filed later.
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[186] Ms. Desgagné deposed that about 3 days before the election, the RMG scripts changed.
This is consistent with the evidence of Mr. Langhorne that the Voter ID calls ended and they
began the GOTV calls. The new text mentioned revised polling station locations. According to
Ms. Desgagné, the script did not instruct staff to say that they were calling on behalf of the CPC
or the local Conservative candidate. Her recollection, in April 2012, was that the accuracy of the
information provided regarding polling station locations was questioned by herself and other
callers. She says she overheard another caller saying “I am calling from Elections Canada”.
[187] Ms. Desgagné's evidence was flatly contradicted by Mr. Langhorne of RMG. He denies
that his firm was either knowingly or unknowingly involved in conveying false information to
electors. Mr. Langhorne acknowledged that during the Voter ID process, information about non-
CPC supporters is collected and provided to the CPC. Apart from Mr. Ferance, none of the
applicants and supporting affiants received a Voter ID call from RMG in the three days prior to
polling day according to the company’s records. Four of the applicants received no calls from
RMG in 2011. Two had been called earlier in 2011 but were not reached.
[188] As the calls were completed, the Voter ID data was sent back to the CPC and deleted
from RMG’s systems. It was in a different format and could not be used for the GOTV calls. The
data used for the GOTV calls was provided by the CPC on or about April 29, 2011.
[189] During the three day period prior to Election Day, RMG’s calls were directed only at
those voters who had previously self-identified as CPC supporters in order to remind, motivate,
and, if necessary, assist, them to vote. Langhorne says that it is ineffective to contact someone
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again who has been identified as a non-supportive and that RMG, for ethical reasons, would have
refused to participate in any effort to mislead voters about the locations at which they were to
vote. Based on his extensive experience in election campaigns, it would be counter-productive to
contact non-supporters at the GOTV stage.
[190] Mr. Langhorne confirmed that the RMG “GOTV script” used on the three day period
including election day to communicate with previously identified CPC supporters included a
statement that Elections Canada had changed some voting locations at the last moment and
invited the elector to confirm the address where he or she would be voting. But the RMG callers
were instructed to say that they were calling on behalf of the CPC. If the voter’s information
about their assigned voting location did not match the address on their screen displayed from the
GOTV Data, the callers were instructed to provide the local CPC campaign office phone number
for the supporter to call and get clarification.
[191] Mr. Langhorne provided the text of a “GOTV Script” which he states Ms. Desgagné was
directed to use on such calls. RMG determined that Ms. Desgagné made only 20 GOTV calls to
persons residing in one of the subject ridings. It has no record of any GOTV calls to any of the
applicants in these proceedings or to the other persons who have sworn supporting affidavits.
Recordings of the 20 GOTV calls made by Ms. Desgagné to persons in the subject ridings
contain no reference to calling on behalf of Elections Canada. The accuracy of the polling station
information provided was questioned in only two of the calls. Both were to CPC supporters in
the Elmwood-Transcona riding and the information in the script was shown to be correct.
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[192] Apart from the calls made by Ms. Desgagné, RMG did not produce records of the calls
that they made into the subject ridings, as requested by the applicants, on the ground that this
would be unduly burdensome. This was not pursued by the applicants. All of the RMG calls
were made by live callers, according to Mr. Langhorne. The data for Voter ID calls was provided
by the CPC and returned to the CPC following the election with the additional inputs regarding
supporters and non-supporters recorded by the callers.
[193] In her supplementary affidavit, Ms. Desgagné deposed that she believed that the text Mr.
Langhorne provided was an amalgam of at least two other scripts she was directed to use, one of
which referred to last minute changes of voting locations by Elections Canada. She believed that
she was directed to use both types of script at various times during the days leading up to the
May 2011 election. According to Langhorne, there would have been no overlap between the
Voter ID and GOTV scripts except possibly on April 29, 2011.
[194] At the hearing, counsel for the applicants advised the Court that they were not relying
upon Ms. Desgagné’s affidavits as evidence of the source of the misleading calls. The respondent
MPs vigorously contested the accuracy of her evidence but relied upon it to the limited extent
that it was inconsistent with the evidence of the applicants and their supporting affiants regarding
the calls that they had received.
[195] Ms. Desgagné’s evidence is based solely upon her recollection which, as she
acknowledged in an interview conducted on CBC radio on February 28, 2012, was unclear. Mr.
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Langhorne’s evidence is supported by the RMG records and is consistent with the industry
practices described by both himself and Mr. Penner.
(5) The EKOS Survey Evidence
[196] As survey evidence consists of an aggregate of statements by the persons surveyed and
these persons are not made available for cross-examination, such evidence was long considered
to be inadmissible. Survey evidence was also considered inadmissible if the results purported to
answer the ultimate question before the Court, as that was considered to be the exclusive domain
of the trier of fact. At common law, the evidence was admissible solely to provide the foundation
for an expert’s opinion evidence: R v Times Square Cinema Ltd, [1971] OJ No 1697 (QL) (CA)
at para 35.
[197] The modern practice is to admit survey evidence, presented through a qualified expert,
provided its findings are relevant to the issues and the survey was properly designed and
conducted in an impartial manner: Mattel Inc v 3894207 Canada Inc, 2006 SCC 22, [2006] 1
SCR 772 [Mattel] at para 43. The weight it is to be given is then determined by the Court.
[198] In Canada, survey evidence has been used to determine the effect of voter registration
rules on vulnerable populations: Henry v Canada (Attorney General), 2010 BCSC 610 [Henry]
at paras 411-450. Survey evidence has been admitted in a number of other contexts involving
other public policy issues: Bedford v Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264; Carter v Canada (Attorney
General), 2012 BCSC 886; Chaoulli v Quebec (Attorney General), 2005 SCC 35; Symes v
Canada, [1993] 4 SCR 695). Surveys have also been used in trade-mark confusion cases where it
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is impractical to call hundreds of witnesses: Philip Morris Products SA v Marlboro Canada Ltd,
2010 FC 1099 at para 259.
[199] The respondent MPs contend that the EKOS Survey is inadmissible hearsay as it is
tendered for the purpose of establishing contested facts, namely the proof that actual voters were
prevented from voting. The applicants, they argue, do not merely use it as evidence that there
was a program of voter suppression, but as evidence that this program was effective and did
suppress voters.
[200] The applicants submit that in dealing with fraud preventing voting, there is no readily
available way to count the electors who did not vote other than through such a survey. They rely
on the statements by the Supreme Court in Opitz at paragraphs 23 and 72 that the assessment
under s 524 cannot involve an investigation into voters’ actual choices and that the evidence
must not compromise the secrecy of the ballot. The only reasonable alternative, they submit, was
for a qualified professional to conduct a survey.
[201] In my view, there was no question that the survey evidence was relevant. I concluded that
it was admissible in support of Mr. Graves’ opinion subject to the principles set out in Mattel,
above, that it was properly designed and conducted in an impartial manner. I found that the
survey was “both reliable (in the sense that if the survey were repeated it would likely produce
the same results) and valid (in the sense that the right questions have been put to the right pool of
respondents in the right way, in the right circumstances to provide the information sought)”:
Mattel, para 45. The weight to be given to it remained to be determined.
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[202] In reaching a conclusion on admissibility, I had regard to some of the factors discussed
by Justice Smith in Henry, above, at para 279: the particular circumstances of this case and the
opportunities the respondent MPs had to cross-examine Mr. Graves on his qualifications, to
review the underlying data and methodology, and to call evidence in rebuttal; the lack of
resources of the applicants and other means to establish cause and effect. I note that while the
respondent MPs contend that court proceedings should not be turned into a battle of experts, their
arguments about the reliability of the survey results all draw on Dr. Corbin’s critique. In
assessing the weight of the evidence, I took into account the content of the report and the
evidence of Mr. Graves, Dr. Corbin and Dr. Nevitte, an expert in survey research and electoral
behaviour retained by the applicants to assess the evidence of both Dr. Corbin and Mr. Graves.
[203] The EKOS Survey gathered responses from a sample of Canadian adults across the six
ridings under dispute. The findings were updated after the application regarding the seventh
riding was withdrawn, resulting in a sample size of 2,872. One substantive effect of the removal
of the Don Valley East survey respondents was to reduce the significance of the measurable
impact on electors of receiving harassing phone calls during the election and that factor was
[204] According to Mr. Graves, a sample of this size for the six subject ridings provides a
margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases
when the results are subdivided by riding, varying from 4.0% to 5.6%, 19 times out of 20.
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[205] For comparison purposes, the survey also gathered responses from 1,500 adult Canadians
across 106 other ridings where there were few or no known complaints of voter suppression
activity. The margin of error for the comparison groups is said to be 2.5 percentage points, 19
times out of 20.
[206] The survey consisted of a series of automated questions asking the respondents whether
they had received a telephone call asking how they intended to vote and a subsequent call telling
them that their polling station had changed, if so whether that second call was said to be from
Elections Canada, whether the location of the polling station was correctly identified and
whether the call caused them not to vote on May 2, 2011. Additional questions addressed
whether the respondent had received harassing telephone calls.
[207] Mr. Graves’ interpretation of the survey is that in the subject ridings in total, 16.7% of
respondents indicated that they had received a call near the end of the election campaign
informing them of the location of their polling station. Of those 16.7%, 24.6% of respondents
indicated that they had received a call telling them that the location of the polling station had
changed. This represents 4.1% of the survey sample of 2,872 from the subject ridings, or 117
electors. Extrapolated as a proportion of the total number of electors in the six ridings, which was
352,645, 4.1% of the eligible electorate represents 14,458 voters.
[208] Acknowledging the limitations of the study, the EKOS Survey concludes, among other
things, that:
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a. The evidence strongly suggests that there was a targeted program of voter
suppression in place in the subject ridings. Based on the survey samples, it
appears that tens of thousands of voters were targeted.
b. These activities were clearly targeted at non-CPC voters in a manner that is highly
improbable to have happened by chance. They included false reports of polling
station changes and faux calls claiming to be from Elections Canada. In fact,
Elections Canada made no such calls and there were virtually no voting station
changes, yet many thousands of voters in the six ridings claim to have received
these calls.
c. Exposure to these calls clearly had a dampening effect on propensity for non-CPC
supporters to vote. EKOS estimated the effect in the range of 1.0%. Applying a
margin of error to those estimates would produce a band of 0.8% to 1.8%. In
other words if these actions had not been in place, the CPC advantage would have
been reduced by this amount on average in these six ridings.
[209] The report found that residents of the subject ridings were significantly more likely to
have received a call informing them of polling station change than those in the comparison
ridings. Mr. Graves concluded that in the subject ridings voter suppression activities took place
that were targeted at non-CPC voters. He found that the response rates for CPC voters were the
same in both comparison and subject ridings.
[210] These findings, the applicants submit, are consistent with the evidence of Mr. Langhorne
that RMG, at the direction of the CPC, called hundreds of thousands of electors and read a
message stating that: "Elections Canada has changed some voting locations at the last minute".
This included calls to electors in five of the six subject ridings. The information was factually
wrong in that there had been only one polling station change in all of the six subject ridings in
which RMG made such calls. While GOTV calls were made by the other parties to their
supporters, there is no suggestion that they included similar misleading information about polling
station locations.
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[211] As discussed above, under s 120 of the Act it is the responsibility of returning officers to
establish polling stations, with the approval of the Chief Electoral Officer if more than one
location is required in a polling division. This responsibility would include any relocation of a
polling station and any notification to electors of such a change. It was therefore improper for the
CPC and RMG to deliver the message they did, and this should not recur.
[212] However, the fact that the RMG calls were made may account, in part, for the
recollection of persons who responded to the EKOS survey nearly a year later that they had
received misleading phone calls.
[213] The EKOS Survey acknowledged the difficulty of estimating the actual number of
electors deterred from voting in consequence of receiving such a call. It states:
Assessing causal impacts is an exceedingly complex problem and
this research cannot provide definitive estimates of the size of the
causal impacts. It does, however, provide a reasonable basis for
estimating these impacts.
[214] The survey asked respondents to report whether they failed to vote as a result of getting
such a call. The results indicated that more respondents from the comparison group reported
being deterred from voting as a result of receiving a call indicating that the polling station
location had been changed. Mr. Graves’ opinion was that this made sense because eligible voters
in "swing" ridings have more incentive to vote and are thus less easily dissuaded from voting
than voters in party strongholds, which were better represented in the comparison group.
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[215] One of the difficulties with the survey evidence, however, is that some of those who
reported having been discouraged from going to the polls had previously indicated that they had
in fact voted. This inherent conflict in the results was never explained to my satisfaction.
[216] As I read the results of the survey broken down by the subject ridings, with the
percentages rounded out to avoid counting fractional people, the findings are as follows:
Winnipeg South Centre:
There were no polling station changes in this riding. The margin of victory for the
Conservative respondent was 722 votes (out of 40,093 cast for all candidates). The
survey contacted 606 people in the riding. Of those, 5.3% said that they had been called
and told that their polling station had been changed. Of those receiving such calls, 5.7%
(i.e. 1.0 percent of the 606 or 6 persons) said that they then did not vote. Extrapolating
that 1 % to the total 40,093 votes indicates that the reverse magic number (more votes
presumed to oppose the winner than the margin of victory) would not have been reached.
No polling station changes. The margin of victory was 538 votes out of 30,220 cast. The
survey contacted 303 people. Of those, 4.0% (or 12 people) said that they had been called
and told that their station had been changed. Of those, 8.1% (2% of the 303 or 6 people)
said that they did not vote. Extrapolated to the total number of votes cast, 2% would
exceed the reverse magic number required.
No polling station changes. A margin of victory of 300 votes of 33,085 total cast. The
survey contacted 487 people in the riding. Of those, 4.9%, or 24 people, said that they
had been contacted about a change in their polling station. Eight people (or 1.6% of the
487) said that they then did not vote. Calculated as a percentage of the total (1.6% of
33,085), this would indicate that 529 voters did not vote, well in excess of the magic
No polling station changes. Margin of victory for the Conservative candidate was just 18
votes out of 42,496 cast. The survey contacted 487 people in this riding. Of those, 1.8%
(or 9 people) said that they had been called with the misleading information. 12.1 %
(i.e.,1.8% of the 487, 7 people) of those said they then did not vote. Extrapolated to the
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total votes cast, this would indicate that 595 voters did not vote, well in excess of the
magic number.
Vancouver Island North:
One polling station location was changed in this riding. The margin of victory was 1,827
out of 59,190 votes cast. 523 people were contacted by the survey. Of those, 2.7 % said
that they had been called and told that their polling station had been changed. Of those 14
people, 5.7% or 4 people (i.e., 0.8% of the 523) said that they then did not vote – this
would translate to 473 votes. The magic number would not have been reached in this
No polling station changes. The margin of victory was 132 votes out of 16,124 total cast.
The survey contacted 466 people, of whom 36% said that they had been called and told
that their polling station had changed or 168 people. Of those, 10.7%, approximately 8
people or 1.7 % of the 466, said they then did not vote. As 1.7% of 16,124 is 274 voters,
the magic number would have been reached.
[217] If the survey evidence is accepted, it demonstrates that 39 voters in total and at least one
voter in each of the six ridings reported not casting a vote due to the fraud. Extrapolating the
percentage of those who said they did not vote because of the calls from the survey samples to
the total number of votes cast in each riding, the reverse magic number is reached in only four of
the six ridings, assuming that none of those who did not vote in those four ridings would have
voted for the Conservative respondents.
(6) Dr. Corbin’s evidence
[218] Dr. Corbin holds a doctoral degree in psychology, among other degrees. She is the
managing partner of CorbinPartners Inc., a marketing science company which conducts survey
research and provides market analysis for business and policy decisions. Previously, she was the
Chief Operating Officer of the Angus Reid Group responsible for national election polling
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operations and was at one time a polling advisor to the Privy Council Office and the Canadian
Unity Information Office of the Government of Canada.
[219] Dr. Corbin has been personally involved with numerous survey research studies and has
published on the use of survey evidence in court. She has been previously qualified as an expert
in the design and interpretation of survey evidence in an electoral context (Henry, above, at para
292) and her qualifications were not contested in those proceedings.
[220] Dr. Corbin’s expertise in market research was not questioned by the applicants. They
questioned whether the consumer orientation of her expertise was of value in this context and
questioned the limited scope of her retainer. She was not asked to consider the evidence as a
whole but rather to focus on the Graves affidavits and survey evidence. The applicants content
that as a result she was unaware of the effect of the RMG calls on the comparison ridings, for
example, and proceeded on the incorrect assumption that the reports by survey respondents of
having received misleading calls were the product of false memory. They also contend that she
brought a hyper-adversarial approach to her task which diminishes the weight that should be
accorded her opinion.
[221] Dr. Corbin conceded that the self-reported non-voting activity disclosed by the EKOS
Survey, if taken at face value, establishes that some voters were deterred from voting. However,
the survey failed to address essential standards of statistical reliability, in her view, and the
results could not, therefore, be generalized to any conclusions about the population at large. She
asserts that nothing could be concluded from the survey with respect to the incidence of voter
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suppression phone calls or any cause-effect relationship between such phone calls and any
outcomes of the 2011 federal election.
[222] The IVR polling technology may be useful for some specific applications, Dr. Corbin
acknowledges. But it is a highly impersonal survey technique with very low response rates and
remains controversial within the industry. In the manner used in the EKOS Survey, Dr. Corbin
states, it permits no verifiable control over who answers the survey. She criticized its use in this
instance on a number of grounds including the following:
 Survey results require validation, normally through a 10% call-back to confirm
responses; this was not done. There was no live follow-up.
 The survey was performed 11 months after the election when people’s memories had
faded. Memories are suggestible and the respondents may have accidentally filled in
details from media reporting after the fact.
 There were numerous sampling errors in the survey; for instance, cell phone users were
not surveyed, because according to Mr. Graves’ hypothesis, cell phones were not targeted
for misleading calls.
 The youngest age category offered was “under 25”, which did not screen out people
under 18 who were not eligible to vote. There was over-representation of women and
under-representation of Conservatives.
 A ticket in a $500 prize draw was offered for completing the survey, so people may have
just pushed random buttons to get through and get their chance at the prize.
 Finally, the survey questions were confusing.
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[223] I note that call-backs to verify the information received would run counter to the concern
expressed by the Supreme Court that efforts to establish causal effects must not breach ballot
secrecy. One of the features of the IVR approach was that the respondents were assured
anonymity. While there were multiple call backs to obtain a response, EKOS did not thereafter
attempt to verify the responses received from those reporting non-voting behaviour. Dr. Corbin
views this as a weakness but it is a point that would be problematic in any live survey that could
not assure anonymity.
[224] Dr. Corbin challenges Mr. Graves’ assertions that the survey provides a reasonable basis
for estimating the impact of the calls. She states that there is no scientifically defensible basis for
estimating or inferring causal impacts from the report. Following a detailed analysis of the
discussion of the results in the EKOS Survey, she found the explanations "subjective,
predisposed to a hypothesis of voter suppression, and inconsistent with rigorous statistical
reasoning for determining cause-and-effect."
[225] Dr. Corbin’s analysis of the data led her to conclude that at least two ridings, Saskatoon-
Rosetown-Biggar and Nipissing-Timiskaming, could immediately be eliminated from
consideration as targets of suspicious phone calls, because there were fewer complaints about
such calls than in the comparison ridings. Her analysis of the remaining ridings indicates that
overall, there was not enough difference between voters in the comparison group and voters in
the subject ridings to demonstrate that suspicious calls had made any difference. She points out
that in Winnipeg South Centre and Vancouver Island North, the magic number is not reached
even if Mr. Graves’ findings are accepted.
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[226] Dr. Corbin would eliminate more than half of the survey respondents as lying or
mistaken based on a comparison of tables of survey respondents who reported receiving calls
which caused them not to vote, and tables of survey respondents who said they had actually
voted. Excluding those she concluded had lied from the data and adjusting the data to
compensate for under-age voters, cell-phone owners, ineligible voters and other concerns such as
faulty memory, the remaining alleged voter suppression effect is reduced to zero. In the result,
Dr. Corbin found no statistical difference between the subject ridings and the comparison group
ridings. In her analysis, the EKOS Survey is, overall, methodologically unsound and could have
a margin of error of between 8% and 20%.
[227] A sur-reply affidavit by Dr. Corbin was tendered on October 29, 2012 in response to the
revised report by Graves and EKOS calculated without the data from the seventh riding. In the
revised report, some of the numbers had changed but not to the extent that the results were
dramatically altered. Changes from the original report were indicated with strike-throughs and
side-bars describing the adjustments made.
[228] Dr. Corbin added the following arguments, among others:
 There is now stronger evidence of no material voter suppression in the collection
of six subject ridings.
 There is new unequivocal evidence that if non-voters had been targeted by
illegitimate phone calls, those most likely to be targeted were people with
Conservative Party leanings, rather than non-Conservative Party leanings. That
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is, if targeted non-voters had actually voted, it appears more likely they would
have voted for the Conservative candidate.
 One can go further than concluding that there is no material voter suppression
demonstrated for any of the Subject Ridings. A statistical analysis based on Mr.
Graves’s own data shows that there is less likelihood that alleged “voter
suppression” took place in the Subject Ridings altogether, compared to anywhere
else in Canada.
[229] I found Dr. Corbin’s evidence to be overly argumentative. In her critique of Mr. Graves’ use
of the IVR technology and his opinion evidence, she appeared to enter the arena as an advocate. I
agree with the respondent MPs that election annulment proceedings should not be a “battle of the
experts” but it seems to me that they encouraged Dr. Corbin to engage in just such a battle.
(7) Dr. Nevitte’s evidence
[230] The applicants retained Dr. Neil Nevitte, an expert in survey research and electoral
behaviour, to assess the evidence of both Dr. Corbin and Mr. Graves. Dr. Nevitte is a professor
of political science at the University of Toronto and a researcher in the areas of public opinion,
voting, value change, and the problems associated with transitional elections. He was a coinvestigator
of the Canadian Election Studies (1993-2009), serves as a Senior Election Advisor
with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and is a technical advisor to
international non-governmental organizations on the prevention and detection of election fraud
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and conditions for free and fair elections. He was tendered as an expert in survey research and
electoral behaviour.
[231] The respondent MPs objected to Dr. Nevitte’s evidence on the grounds that it was not
independent and objective. They argued that he was retained for the sole purpose of bolstering
the EKOS Survey, and that the admission of his evidence would split the applicants’ case. They
questioned his qualifications in expressing an opinion on voter suppression as he acknowledged
not being an expert in that field.
[232] Because of the novel use of survey evidence in this case, I considered that it was
appropriate for the applicants to seek a second opinion on the validity of the methodology and
conclusions in the EKOS Survey. I found Dr. Nevitte’s evidence to come within the Mohan
criteria. In the context of the open conflict between Graves and Corbin, I found it to be impartial
and helpful.
[233] Dr. Nevitte deposed that he had been involved in large-scale survey research dealing with
electoral data and public opinion data for 30 years. He had never seen a survey research project
that was completely free of problems. It is not unusual for survey experts to have honest
differences of opinion about the best way to conduct the research. He considered many of the
concerns raised by Dr. Corbin to be common to this kind of exchange and not requirements
observed by the industry.
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[234] He described her general approach, however, as “cross[ing] the boundary that separates
honest disagreement from strenuous, and not so credible, disagreement.” In his view:
The Corbin report lists a litany of claims concerning the reliability,
validity, and scientific reporting which render the data as invalid,
unreliable and so not a foundation from which useful inferences
can be drawn. My view is that this is too harsh a judgment. Many
of the claims upon which those sources of unreliability and
invalidity are based are factually incorrect. Others, as it turns out,
have been addressed.
[235] Dr. Nevitte concluded that the EKOS Survey “for the most part, makes relatively modest
claims that are advanced, usually, with related caveats and proper caution”, and criticized the
initial Corbin report on the ground that it had not squarely addressed the central question of
whether voters for different parties had different probabilities of receiving deceptive calls.
[236] Dr. Nevitte acknowledged that some of Dr. Corbin’s criticisms raised valid issues,
notably: (a) memory lapse over time; (b) the suitability of IVR technology; (c) the randomness of
the survey sample; (d) the nature and suitability of the comparison group; (e) the question of
causation; and (f) the issue of data disclosure.
[237] Memory unreliability could be a problem but a call related to a general election would be
more memorable, in Dr. Nevitte’s view, than most daily events. He notes that it would not be
logical that supporters of one political party would have consistently less accurate memories than
others. IVR interviewing is automated and impersonal but he did not see that as a problem and
considered that the methodology used was standard for the industry. The fact that the sample was
random was not an issue so long as the normal precautions were taken. While the comparison
group consisted of 106 ridings in which few complaints were filed, rather than ridings in which
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no complaints were filed, this was the best that could be done in the real world, whatever the
ideal might have been. The comparison group revealed significant statistical differences, in his
[238] With respect to causation, Dr. Nevitte concurred with EKOS’ assessment of the extent
and targeting of the calls. He noted, however, that “it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about
what effect those calls might have had on overall rates of voter turnout.” Overall I assessed Dr.
Nevitte’s evidence as supporting the use of the IVR methodology but not necessarily the results
in this instance.
(8) Evidence of the respondent MPs’ campaign managers
[239] The respondent MPs adduced the evidence of their local campaign managers. Each of
them denies having engaged in voter suppression. This is consistent with the results of the
Mathews investigation in Guelph which appears to point to the involvement of volunteers in the
local CPC campaign but does not implicate either the CPC candidate in that riding or his
campaign manager.
V. Conclusion on the Merits
A. Has “fraud” under Section 524(1)(b) been made out?
[240] As noted above, the respondent MPs contend that the meaning of fraud within s 524(1)(b)
must be derived from the Criminal Code offence or the elements of the offence set out in s
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482(b), which would require proof of both a factual and a mental element. These elements would
be, they submit, 1) the utterance of a pretence or contrivance, and 2) the intent to cause an elector
to refrain from voting. They argue that the applicants have failed to make out the elements of
either offence or those of any other electoral offence by failing to identify a perpetrator with a
guilty mind or establish that they were actually prevented from voting.
[241] The applicants submit that they have presented evidence demonstrating a prima facie
case of fraud. Telephone calls were received; these did not come from any authorized body such
as Elections Canada; they directed electors to the wrong polling stations; thousands of
complaints have been received by Elections Canada from across Canada, reflecting a countrywide
pattern of conduct. The conduct was aimed at “swing ridings” such as the six that are the
subject of these proceedings, as the margin of victory in those was likely to be narrow.
[242] As I discussed above, the meaning of “fraud” in s 524(1)(b) is not limited to the
definition of any of the offences in Part 19 of the Act. It is not necessary, in my view, for an
applicant to satisfy the elements of the criminal offences in order to establish that “fraud” within
the meaning of the enactment has been made out. It is sufficient to show false representations
depriving, or creating a risk of depriving, a voter of the right to vote.
[243] I have considered whether the complainants outside Guelph conflated the calls by RMG
and media reporting and came to a mistaken conclusion that they had received deliberately
misleading calls, but this is inconsistent with the RMG evidence, which clearly shows that the
company did not make calls to non-supporters, who were identified as such in the CIMS
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database. GOTV calls on election day were only made to identified CPC supporters which did
not include the applicants.
[244] I am satisfied that is has been established that misleading calls about the locations of
polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country, including the subject ridings,
and that the purpose of those calls was to suppress the votes of electors who had indicated their
voting preference in response to earlier voter identification calls.
[245] In reaching this conclusion, I make no finding that the CPC, any CPC candidates, or
RMG and RackNine Inc., were directly involved in the campaign to mislead voters. To require
the applicants to identify the perpetrators of the misleading calls would impose an impossibly
high standard of proof. I am satisfied, however, that the most likely source of the information
used to make the misleading calls was the CIMS database maintained and controlled by the CPC,
accessed for that purpose by a person or persons currently unknown to this Court. There is no
evidence to indicate that the use of the CIMS database in this manner was approved or condoned
by the CPC. Rather the evidence points to elaborate efforts to conceal the identity of those
accessing the database and arranging for the calls to be made.
[246] I find that the threshold to establish that fraud occurred has been met by the applicants.
The questions remaining are whether the fraud affected the results of the election, and if so,
whether the Court should exercise its discretion to annul the results in the subject ridings.
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B. Did the fraud affect the results of the election in the six subject ridings?
[247] The applicants had a difficult obstacle to overcome in these proceedings. They had no
direct evidence that the voter suppression efforts had been successful. They themselves had not
been prevented from voting by the misleading telephone calls that they received. As they point
out, however, to require direct evidence of the effects of voter suppression measures may make it
much more difficult to bring such challenges under s 524 of the Act. There is no readily available
means to count the number of electors who were not able to vote by virtue of the fraudulent
activity unless they all come forward and self-identify, which is highly improbable.
[248] The applicants reasonably turned to a random interactive telephone survey as an
alternative means to collect the data. They ask the Court to extrapolate, from the survey samples,
an estimate of the total number of persons who did not vote in the six ridings as a result of the
misleading calls and to draw the necessary inference as to the effect on the outcome in each
riding. It would be easier to draw those inferences if, as the respondent MPs argued, at least
some of the supporters of the losing candidates in the six ridings who did not vote because of the
misdirecting phone calls would have come forward to make that known at the time of the
election or when the story broke in the national media ten months later. That this did not occur
has raised questions that have not been answered in this proceeding.
[249] Apart from the survey, there is no evidence that the election results in the six ridings
would have turned out differently. This is not a case of disappearing ballots or tampering with
voting machines as in some of the American cases in which survey evidence has been accepted.
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Here, the survey is offered to establish that some voters, a sufficient number in each riding to
overcome the margin of victory, would have voted but for the effect of a telephone call directing
them to the wrong polling location. None of those voters have come forward to confirm the
results. The survey evidence, in this case, does not provide firm ground on which the Court could
have confidence in finding that the fraud affected the results in any of the six ridings. I am,
therefore, not satisfied that the survey is a reliable evidentiary basis upon which to cast doubt on
the winner in each contest even where the margin of victory was close.
[250] That conclusion is not intended to preclude the use of such evidence in a future case
should it be possible to address the concerns raised in this proceeding about the survey
methodology and interpretation of the data.
[251] Absent a clear finding that the election results could have been different but for the voter
suppression efforts, the Court must turn to the alternative basis advanced by the applicants for
annulling the elections. It must consider whether the corrosive effect of the fraud was sufficiently
serious to call the integrity of the election process into question requiring new votes in those six
C. Did the fraud call into question the integrity of the elections?
[252] This case was problematic from the outset, as the applicants acknowledged, because of
the challenges they faced in collecting evidence to support what they rightly identified as a
widespread attempt at voter suppression. The evidence of fraud was most clearly demonstrated in
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the Guelph investigation. As the investigations continued, the Commissioner’s officers
uncovered evidence that the Guelph experience was not unique and that similar attempts were
made across the country including in the six subject ridings. The applicants’ own experience on
Election Day supports those findings.
[253] Canadians have confidence in the integrity of our electoral procedures. The sanctity of
the poll and the ballot box in this country is reflected in the frequent invitations Canada receives
to provide independent observers to supervise foreign elections. There may have been isolated
instances of electoral misbehaviour in the past but, as noted above, incidents of voter suppression
of the nature discussed in these reasons have not been known in this country prior to the 41st
General Election. For that reason, I don’t doubt that the confidence rightfully held by Canadians
has been shaken by the disclosures of widespread fraudulent activities that have resulted from the
Commissioner’s investigations and the complaints to Elections Canada.
[254] Had I found that any of the successful electoral candidates or their agents were implicated
in any way in the fraudulent activity, I would not have hesitated to exercise my discretion to
annul the result even if the reverse magic number had not been shown to have been reached in
the riding in question. No such evidence was led.
[255] The scale of the fraud has to be kept in perspective. According to the Report of the Chief
Electoral Officer of Canada on the 41st general election of May 2, 2011, found on the website of
Elections Canada, a total of 66,146 polls at which 14,823,408 electors cast their ballots were set
up and operated across Canada on polling day. The number and location of the complaints
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received by Elections Canada from across Canada indicates that the voter suppression effort was
geographically widespread but, apart from Guelph, thinly scattered.
[256] While they appear to have been targetted towards voters who had previously expressed a
preference for an opposition party (or anyone other than the government party), the evidence in
this proceeding does not support the conclusion that the voter suppression efforts had a major
impact on the credibility of the vote.
[257] Elections Canada has responded to the complaints received and they continue to be
actively investigated. At the time of writing, the press reported that the Director of Public
Prosecutions had authorized the Commissioner to commence a prosecution under Part 19 of the
Act. These institutions and the Courts have the capacity to address this effort to strike at the
integrity of our democratic process.
D. Should the Court exercise its discretion to annul the elections?
[258] Having considered the matter very carefully and with a full appreciation for the concerns
about the integrity of the electoral process that have motivated these applications, I am unable to
conclude that I should exercise my discretion to annul the 2011 election results in any of the
subject ridings because of the fraud that occurred.
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VI. Costs
[259] The right of citizen electors to seek to annul election results that they reasonably believe
to be tainted by fraud is, in my view, a matter of high public interest and analogous to Charter
litigation. A concern that has frequently been raised is that such litigation should not be beyond
the reach of the ordinary citizen. The courts have gone so far as to require that a portion of the
costs of such cases be paid by the opposing successful parties: M v H, [1996] OJ No 2597 (QL)
(Ct J (Gen Div)) at paras 17, 30; Lavigne, above, at para 106.
[260] I am mindful of the fact that in this instance the applicants have received guarantees of
indemnification by a non-governmental organization which has been raising funds for that
purpose. But it is also apparent that the respondent MPs are supported by the resources of the
party to which they belong, resources which are underwritten by taxpayers.
[261] These proceedings have had partisan overtones from the outset. That was particularly
evident in the submissions of the respondent MPs. In reviewing the procedural history and the
evidence and considering the arguments advanced by the parties at the hearing, it has seemed to
me that the applicants sought to achieve and hold the high ground of promoting the integrity of
the electoral process while the respondent MPs engaged in trench warfare in an effort to prevent
this case from coming to a hearing on the merits.
[262] Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations, the CPC
made little effort to assist with the investigation at the outset despite early requests. I note that
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counsel for the CPC was informed while the election was taking place that the calls about polling
station changes were improper. While it was begrudgingly conceded during oral argument that
what occurred was “absolutely outrageous”, the record indicates that the stance taken by the
respondent MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means.
[263] The preliminary stages were marked by numerous objections to the evidence adduced by
the applicants. The respondent MPs sought to strike the applications on the ground that they were
frivolous and vexatious, to have them dismissed as champertous and to require excessive security
for costs, in transparent attempts to derail this case.
[264] There have been interlocutory decisions made by the case management prothonotaries
during the proceedings with related costs awards. The applicants are, in my view, entitled to be
awarded costs on each of the pre-hearing motions in which they have been successful on a
solicitor and client basis to be paid jointly and severally by the respondent MPs. This applies also
to the champerty motion and the motion to exclude the Graves evidence which was brought
initially in relation to the Don Valley East application and then deemed to apply to each of the
other applications.
[265] Apart from the motion costs, and with the above considerations in mind, I am inclined to
order a modest fixed amount for the costs of the hearing. Absent an agreement as to the amount,
the respondent MPs may make written submissions limited to ten pages within thirty days of the
date of this judgment. The applicants will then have fifteen days in which to respond and the
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respondent MPs another five days to reply. I will then award a fixed sum in an amount I consider
appropriate given the foregoing comments. The other respondents will bear their own costs.
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1. the applications are dismissed;
2. the respondent Members of Parliament are awarded costs for the hearing in an
amount to be fixed in accordance with the directions given in the reasons for
3. the applicants are awarded costs for the motions in which they were successful on
a solicitor and client basis; and
4. the other responding parties shall bear their own costs.
“Richard G. Mosley”
DOCKET: T-619-12 (T-620-12, T-621-12, T-633-12
T-634-12, T-635-12)
PLACE OF HEARING: Ottawa, Ontario
DATE OF HEARING: December 10 to 17, 2012
DATED: May 23, 2013
Steven Shrybman
Peter Engelmann
Benjamin Piper
Barbara McIsaac
Marc Chenier
(Marc Mayrand, The Chief Electoral Officer)
Arthur Hamilton
Ted Frankel
Jeremy Martin
(Responding Parliamentarians)
W. Thomas Barlow
Nick Shkordoff
(Responding Market Group Inc)
Ottawa, Ontario
Ottawa, Ontario
(Marc Mayrand, The Chief Electoral Officer)
Toronto, Ontario
(Responding Parliamentarians)
Toronto, Ontario
(Responding Market Group Inc)