The Elections Canada investigation into voter suppression during the 2011 federal election is making headlines again.
This time, it’s because an Ontario judge lifted an order, allowing for the publication of the names of six Conservative political staffers who were interviewed by Elections Canada.
They allege a former campaign staffer, Michael Sona, had taken credit for a voter-suppression scheme in Guelph. The automated calls impersonating Elections Canada on election day, placed to non-Conservative voters, directed people to incorrect polling stations.
Here are eight things to remember about the voter suppression probe:
- According to Elections Canada, whoever orchestrated the illegal calls relied on information from the Conservative Party’s voter-tracking database, known as the Constituent Information Management System.
- A source close to the robocalls investigation told Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen, which are leading the coverage on the file, said it’s unlikely a junior Conservative staffer could have pulled off the scheme on his own. It involved recording a bilingual, professional-sounding message and covering all electronic tracks.
- Sona, the junior staffer in question, was apparently in Aruba when the six newly named Conservative Party staffers claimed that he was bragging about the scheme. Sona, who has been charged with violating the Elections Act, denies involvement and claims he's being scapegoated.
- Jenni Byrne, the party’s 2011 national campaign manager and now deputy chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, instructed a potential key witness in the investigation to push off an interview with an Elections Canada investigator so Byrne could confer with lawyers.
- Elections Canada hasn't been able to speak to everyone they've wanted to as part of its investigation, despite requests for interviews.
- Elections Canada has asked the government to update Canadian law so the agency has the power to compel testimony.
- The Conservative government has promised to give this power to Elections Canada before the next election, but has yet to do so.
- If the Conservative Party conducted an internal investigation to get to the bottom of the robocalls scheme, it has not shared the results with the public.