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FACT CHECK: Liberals and media accuse Conservatives of “rigged election” claims

Several media outlets and a Toronto-area Liberal MP have been using a dated Conservative campaign page to accuse the official opposition of casting doubt on the results of the election. 

The page in question, which has since been removed from the Conservative Party’s website, brought up election law changes legislated by the Liberals and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “rigging the next election in his favour.” 

“The Liberals have introduced changes to our elections laws that will restrict the spending opposition parties [sic] during a new ‘pre-election period,’” an archived version of the page reads.

“Liberal Ministers will have unlimited travel on your dime. The Liberal government will be able to spend your money on anything they see fit. Meanwhile, opposition parties that have done the hard work to raise its own funds directly from Canadians will be limited in what they can do and spend.” 

On Friday, Liberal MP Adam Vaughan falsely tied the Conservative campaign to efforts by US President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

Shortly after, the claim was further spread by media outlets such as Narcity and Now Toronto

“The Conservative party just accused Justin Trudeau of sabotaging the next election and trying to limit what they can do as a party,” wrote Now Toronto reporter Enzo DiMatteo. 

However, according to Conservative Party Director of Communications Cory Hann, the web page was in fact launched several years ago in response to the Canada Elections Act changes first proposed by the Liberals that very year. 

“The site Liberals were pushing around was posted two to three years ago, prior to the last Federal election, when Mr. Trudeau was making changes to the Elections Act, and our position on those changes were that they appeared to be an attempt to stack the deck in the Liberal’s favour, and give them the advantage going into a competitive election. Many news articles can be found about our position then,” Hann told True North. 

“Obviously content pre-dating the election of a new leader becomes stale dated, and thus it’s removed or just no longer representative of the current leader, and that’s what this content is – pre-dating the current leader, and no longer used or applicable.” 

House of Commons debate records show that as early as May 2018, Conservatives were referring to the Liberal election plans as an attempt to rig elections in their favour.  

“The government could prevent third parties from colluding to defeat the intent of the law. It could reduce, instead of increase, the limit on third parties during the writ period,” said Conservative MP Pat Kelly on May 22, 2018.

“However, the Liberals have chosen not to do any of these things, because these Liberals have proven over and over again how much they prefer a rigged game when it comes to elections.”

Additionally, even going as far back as 2011, the Liberals were similarly accusing former prime minister Stephen Harper of attempting to undermine elections. 

“Mr. Speaker, voter turnout among students and young people is the lowest of all age groups. Last night, student associations testified in Parliament about how Elections Canada had been helping them run educational programs to reverse that trend. Yet, the government’s rigged elections act would not only stop Elections Canada from encouraging young voters, it would make it harder for them to vote,” said Liberal MP Joyce Murray on April 8, 2014.

Murray’s claims were also repeated on her official Twitter account where she implied that the Conservative Bill C-23 was made “for rigging elections,” and that they were attempting to suppress votes

Furthermore, Hansard records also show that on March 8th, 2011 Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc suggested that the Conservatives had a “strategy to get around the Canada Elections Act and steal an election.” 

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