Robocalls that aimed to sow chaos in the swing riding of Guelph in last spring’s federal election have been traced back to an Edmonton firm with ties to the Conservative Party, according to a joint Postmedia/Ottawa Citizen investigation. (Really Edmonton? ‘Headquarters of the oil sands’ wasn’t enough for you? You had to add ‘robocall hub’ to your industries-outsiders-will-slag-you-for list?)
Elections Canada was blanketed with complaints from 18 ridings about the calls after election day. From the story:
In Guelph, a riding the Conservatives hoped to take from the Liberals, voters received recorded calls pretending to be from Elections Canada, telling them their polling stations had been moved. The calls led to a chaotic scene at one polling station, and likely led some voters to give up on voting.
Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen have found that Elections Canada traced the calls to Racknine Inc., a small Edmonton call centre that worked for the party’s national campaign and those of at least nine Conservative candidates, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own campaign in Calgary Southwest. There is no evidence that Harper’s campaign or any of the other candidates were involved in the calls.
Racknine says it was unaware its servers were being used for the fake calls.
The RCMP are helping with the Elections Canada investigation, while the Conservatives say they are conducting their own internal probe. “Oh, you’re doing your own investigation, that’s cool then, don’t worry about it,” is what I’m sure opposition critics will say to the Tories when the matter is raised in the House.