Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor and Postmedia News’ Stephen Maher have won the 2013 Canadian Hillman Prize for their investigative reporting on the use of robocalls to disrupt and suppress voting during the 2011 federal election. The judges also gave honourable mention to Victoria Times Colonist’s Katie DeRosa and Edmonton Journal’s Elise Stolte. 

Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor and Postmedia News’ Stephen Maher have won the 2013 Canadian Hillman Prize for their investigative reporting on the use of robocalls to disrupt and suppress voting during the 2011 federal election.

McGregor and Maher followed up on reports that voters across Canada received misleading phone calls directing them to the wrong polling station and impersonating Liberal Party campaign staff.

 “This was reporting that spoke to the very heart of our democracy,” said Jim Stanford, one of the Canadian Hillman Prize judges, in a press release. “The persistence of these two investigative reporters, in the face of stonewalling by both political operatives and Elections Canada, was exceptional. This was a story that those involved never wanted to come to light – yet it did.”

The ramifications of their investigation continue, the press release notes. More than 40,000 people complained to Elections Canada, which continues to investigate the calls and a citizen-advocacy group, The Council of Canadians, is asking a Federal Court judge to overturn the results in six closely contested ridings. Legislation has been promised (but not introduced) that would control dirty political calls.

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The judges also gave honourable mention to Victoria Times Colonist’s Katie DeRosa for her special report into Canada’s refugee policy, seen through the experience of Tamils, and the Edmonton Journal’s Elise Stolte who produced Why aren’t First Nations kids in schools?, a series that looks at how many “ghost children” on the reserves have fallen through the cracks in the education system.

Links to these and other stories reviewed by the judges can be found here.

The awards ceremony will be held in Toronto on March 19. McGregor and Maher will share the $5,000 prize and travel to New York City to participate in the U.S. Hillman Prizes ceremony on May 7. 

Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.