Thank you, Chair.
Minister, first all, congratulations. I think we're all very excited for you on the birth of your child.
In 2008 I was a young volunteer on a by-election in Guelph. One morning while I was working in the office we started getting a whole bunch of phone calls that Liberal supporters all over the riding were having their brake lines cut. We started getting reports over the course of the next couple of days that across six or seven ridings in southwestern Ontario people had cut the brake lines of Liberal supporters and painted “Liberal” on their houses.
Then, in 2011, voters in Guelph and a handful of other ridings were phoned with a bilingual message claiming to be from Elections Canada directing them to vote in a different polling location than their voting cards stated. In many cases, these were very far away from their voting locations. A judge ruled that these people were called from the database belonging to the Conservative Party. Only one person was charged and convicted in this case, and there's nobody who believes that this person, if they acted at all, did so on their own.
The investigator, under the auspices of the commissioner, had a very limited ability to conduct that investigation, had to tolerate the Conservative Party's lawyer's presence at every single witness interview, and had no power to compel any testimony or to subpoena any actual materials.
Were the robocalls scandal to happen again in 2019, would the elections commissioner, under this act, have an improved ability to investigate? Do you believe this act will help dissuade the obvious election fraud conducted in 2011? What further powers does the elections commissioner have and why?