In the wake of the robo-calls scandal, Scarborough Rouge-River MPP Bas Balkissoon finds that to be only one of the many issues deteriorating Canada’s elections process.
The Liberal spoke candidly about the various problems he’s investigated regarding voter irregularities in recent elections.
“I have an actual case of a gentleman that came to an advanced poll and swore to an affidavit that he lived in the riding. My secretary knew the individual and told me he lived in Markham,” Balkisson said during a phone interview. “I told a colleague from Markham to keep an eye out that he doesn’t vote in their riding because he doesn’t live there. On election night, he showed up and voted in Markham also.”
Balkissoon says that he submitted the case to Elections Ontario and has asked them to take legal action under the law against the individual.
He illustrated other situations that chip away at Canada’s democratic process.
One of those situations involved a man who voted in a riding using an address that did not exist. Balkissoon noted that the poll clerk in that area knew that address did not exist but was forced to let the man vote.
We need to make sure that everybody is upholding the law.
— Soo Wong
“The law says that if you show up and you have ID to prove who you are and you are willing to swear you are a Canadian citizen, they must allow you to vote,” Balkissoon said.
Fellow Liberal MPP Soo Wong from Scarborough-Agincourt also spoke about voter irregularities.
“We need to make sure that everybody is upholding the law and we’ve got to make sure that things remain democratic and they follow the law,” Wong said.
Balkissoon touched on robo-calls and their effectiveness during a political campaign as long as they are used in adherence to the law.
“I’ve always used firms to send out a phone messages asking for support and I’ve used them to send out voice mails in other languages because I can’t speak all of those languages,” he said.
But he said suppressing people’s right to vote, such as the robo-calls scandal that has shaken Canada’s political landscape, is something he’s never even thought of.
Both Balkissoon and Wong offered their thoughts on correcting these problems.
“Elections Canada, Elections Ontario and the municipal election people all need to come together and look at weakness in the system and make recommendations to the legislature,” Balkissoon said when asked if an election overhaul was needed.
Wong was much more critical and said that harsh punishments need to be handed out to people who cheat the elections system.
“If the investigation [into election irregularities] holds to be true, I hope to God somebody, federally, makes sure to hold those people accountable. Because we have laws and laws must be respected and none of us are above the law.”