Political parties fined for violating CRTC rules on robocalls

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OTTAWA — The federal broadcast regulator has fined two MPs, four political parties and a telemarketer after a “wide-ranging investigation” into the illegal use of robocalls.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said Wednesday the Wildrose Alliance Political Association, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, the New Democratic Party of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, calling firm RackNine Inc., as well as Liberal MP Marc Garneau and Conservative MP Blake Richards were fined a total of $369,000.

Most have already paid their fines.

The Conservative Party of Canada – which faces a fine of $78,000 for a robocall campaign launched in February – said it would pay its fine on Wednesday.

“We appreciate that the CRTC is clarifying rules for all federal political parties and applying them across the board,” party spokesman Fred Delorey said.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair indicated his party has paid $40,000 in fines for failing to identify calls from the party in the Quebec riding of St-Maurice-Champlain. MP Lise St-Denis, who represents this area, left the NDP and joined the Liberals in January 2012.

“The team made a mistake in one case,” Mulcair told reporters. “We didn’t fight it … we are going to make sure it never happens again.”

Liberal MP Marc Garneau was slapped with $2,500 fine for calls made earlier this year during the course of his leadership campaign.

CRTC rules require robocall messages to begin with an identification notice, and to include a mailing address and a phone number where a representative can be reached.

The CRTC said it is continuing to investigate.