Ring around the robocalls - Macleans.ca

Ring around the robocalls

Conservatives quietly admit something went wrong in that Guelph riding. Their mission now is to stop the scandal from infecting the rest of the party.

Ring around the robocalls

Chris Wattie/Reuters

In the spring of 2005, his minority Liberal government reeling from revelations at Justice John Gomery’s inquiry into millions in misused federal sponsorship funds in Quebec, then-prime minister Paul Martin went on TV to plead his case. He pledged to call an election within 30 days of Gomery issuing his final report, and apologized to Canadians for not realizing public money was being misdirected until long after the fact. Stephen Harper, then leading the Conservatives in opposition, was scorching in his televised response. Harper accused Martin of “turning a blind eye to it all,” and spoke sweepingly of “Liberal corruption.” If Martin depicted the wrongdoing as serious, but limited, and his party as ready to make it right, Harper condemned Liberals in general, particularly in Quebec, as “tarnished beyond redemption.”

As the 2006 election proved, Martin’s containment strategy failed miserably, while Harper succeeded brilliantly in making all Liberals pay a heavy price for corruption among a tight-knit group of party players in Montreal. And that’s why the sponsorship affair is again on the minds of many political insiders as the so-called “robocalls” affair unfolds. This time, it’s Harper trying to put a scandal in quarantine, and the NDP and Liberals striving to make sure his whole Tory brand is infected. The main line of Conservative defence, after sounding confused in the affair’s early days, firmed up this week: any deceptive calling happened in the Ontario riding of Guelph only, and the party brass couldn’t have known about it. “The whole thing is a nightmare for the government,” said NDP MP David Christopherson. “Even if they are innocent, it’s a nightmare.”

Christopherson’s reasoning is that the government can’t avoid being badly damaged in the coming weeks, likely months, of Elections Canada’s investigation. During that stretch, Canadians will be left to draw their own conclusions about bogus phone calls placed in a bid to mislead voters during the 2011 election. Opposition MPs say their supporters in dozens of ridings were harassed or misled by messages plainly designed to help the Conservatives. Elections Canada is sifting through more than 30,000 complaints logged since the original story—involving automated messages falsely telling Guelph voters their polling location had changed—hit the news last month. That story’s basis is no longer much disputed. “I believe something was amiss in Guelph,” said Conservative strategist Jason Lietaer. “But outside of Guelph, I’m hopeful that what will happen is Elections Canada will render some sort of judgment, and I think it will show we had this right, we assessed it the right way, and we were helpful in getting to the bottom of it.”

That picture of full co-operation, however, is clouded by the Conservatives’ unhappy history with Elections Canada. In the spring of 2008, the RCMP raided Tory offices in downtown Ottawa on behalf of Elections Canada to seize documents the party had declined to turn over voluntarily. That investigation was into how the Conservatives moved money between national and local campaigns during the 2006 election. In what became known as the “in-and-out” affair, the party finally pleaded guilty last fall to overspending, and paid a $52,000 fine. But Elections Canada and the Conservatives were still locked in a related legal battle over campaign expense rebates, until last week when the Tories—facing a new urgency not to appear combative with the elections watchdog—dropped their appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, agreeing to pay back $230,198. A Conservative official insisted there’s no similarity between in-and-out and the robocalls case, in which the party supports Elections Canada’s efforts to “get to the bottom of it.”

Yet Conservatives have seemed generally reluctant to have Elections Canada watching too closely. After the 2008 election, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand recommended key changes to his powers. Among other things, Mayrand asked for the right to compel parties to turn over documents to verify details on the post-election expense returns they are required to file. A House committee happened to report back on his recommendations just as the robocalls affair heated up. Liberal and NDP MPs on the committee supported Mayrand, but the committee’s Conservative majority voted down his request. “Do they have reason for not wanting the chief electoral officer to have those powers?” asked the NDP’s Christopherson. “Elections Canada is just trying to do its job,” added Liberal MP Marc Garneau. “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.”

Lietaer, who ran the Conservative war room in the 2011 election, said misconceptions about how much his party’s national organization could possibly have known about local campaigns are distorting reaction to the robocalls story. “To think that we can approve every phone call going out of every campaign, it’s just not feasible,” he said. The Prime Minister’s Office echoed that position, clarifying Harper’s repeated assertions that his party is entirely blameless as referring only to its national operations, not local Tory campaigns. But since Lietaer and other Conservative officials said they don’t really know how local Tory campaigners behaved, it’s hard to see what grounds they have for concluding that fake calls were likely limited to Guelph.

Elections Canada is certainly casting a much wider net. Among complaints its investigators are reportedly probing are those involving a Thunder Bay, Ont., call centre used by the Conservatives, and deceptive calls reported in Nipissing-Timiskaming, a northern Ontario riding of special interest because the Conservatives ousted the Liberal MP there by a mere 18 votes. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Elections Canada’s chief electoral officer for 17 years before retiring in 2006, said his old agency has ample powers and resources to tackle the massive influx of bogus-call complaints triggered by the Guelph story. Kingsley pointed out that Elections Canada has unlimited authority to spend on the investigation, without asking for government approval, and a standing agreement with the RCMP to call in Mounties, including specialists on combing through computer databases. “We have every indication from Elections Canada that they are able to carry out the work,” he said.

Kingsley predicted months—not years, as some pessimistically speculate—before the investigation wraps up. At that point, Elections Canada will take its evidence to the federal director of public prosecutions, who would decide on pressing charges. If senior Tories are right, no national figures in the party will be implicated. Even so, Garneau said Conservative “culture” under Harper would be on trial. “They play hardball. We’ve seen that in in-and-out, we’ve seen it with their negative ads,” he said. “And it’s not just ramped up during an election, it’s 24/7.”

That sounds a lot like the way Harper talked, back in 2005, about what the sponsorship scandal revealed about Liberal politics. Of course, senior Conservatives protest that fake phone calls don’t signify anything about their ethos. Indeed, Lietaer said they went into the 2011 race more determined than ever to play by the rules. “Given the fights we’ve had with Elections Canada,” he said, “the last place we wanted to be was in a spot where we were defending the actions of central campaign or local campaigns.” But that’s where they have ended up. The question now is whether they can succeed, where Martin historically failed, in containing the damage.


Ring around the robocalls

  1. “If senior Tories are right, no national figures in the party will be implicated.”

    There was a time last week when I thought that this was true……then I heard Vellacott’s pronouncements as well as others in the party that confirm that their voter/phone lists came from the central database. It got me to thinking…..typically, the leader is protected which provides him the opportunity of plaudible deniability. BUT what if the ridings were are also subject to the same protection to afford them the same? In that way Conservative MPs can deny and deny and muddy the waters (see Vellacott’s thought that the lists were wrong becuase of Elections Canada). I stongly suspect that the orders from the party to organizers were to win at all costs…..and then the poltical side made an exit so that if the ‘stuff’ ever hit the fan…..there would be little no trace of poltical invovlement.

    What is STILL baffling me though is why there are people out there willing to engage in unethical tactics, or even break the law even for this party? They seem to be unaware that Conservative power won’t last for ever and that they will have to live in the ‘real’ world at some point where their paychecks don’t come from government or the party…..who on earth wants to hire or work with THAT? these youngsters that are protecting what they surely know (at least to a degree) are woefully misguided. 

    • “They seem to be unaware that Conservative power won’t last forever … these youngsters..”

      Asked and answered.

      Consider that for many of them, especially if they grew up in Alberta, likely hadn’t seen a government change from the time they were born until the time they were able to vote.  And even that changeover took several elections over 5 years to really complete. That’s almost a quarter of their entire lifespan, and certainly more than half of their political lives. What reason do they have to think anything other than the current state will last them for the next 20 years or so?

      • You’re assuming that they plan to stay in politics indefinitely. But the reality is that they have another route: rise up the Tory ranks, make private sector connections, and cash out before the Tories lose. Barring that there are other rackets, like think-tanks. For the best and brightest (and least scrupulous) staffers, there’s money to be made because who you know (unfortunately) matters more than what you know. 

        • The Prentice Plan, eh?

          I suppose that’s also a possibility, but I think that’s assuming malevolence over ignorance, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a lot of that.

          •  i see plenty of malevolence often expressed…read Lawrence Martin’s pieces on Harperland, and Harper’s visceral hatred of all things progressive and Liberal.

    • You certainly cannot blame this on “youngsters” when, as the above article notes, the Conservative Party has already admitted to defrauding Elections Canada and breaking the law once!

      Also, we are usually told that Stephen Harper’s micro-micromanaging style is a benefit.  In this case, it seems less likely that no one higher up knew.

      My instinct is that the entire party is, in fact, toxic right now:  poisoned by Harper’s adoption of the U.S. Karl Rove style scorched-earth politics where the ends always justify the means.  

      These ugly, debasing, and often illegal tactics DO actually work, which is why we have a Conservative majority here in Canada and a Republican Congress again in the U.S.

      But anyone who takes the line that the “youngster” is a “bad apple” is ignoring context.  

      P.S.> Stephen Harper’s entire career has been as a political party wonk or as a politician — so he is another one of your ‘youngsters’ who has never held a real job or lived in the real world.

      • I believe it’s well known that the bulk of the CPC campaign team is fairly young.  I don’t think that our Guest above was making any assertion toward youngsters in general, but rather to those specifically working for the CPC war-room.

      • That`s the type of hysteria and extreme language that is quickly wrote off as the language of the fanatical.

        • Unless he’s right. Where’s your counter argument?

        • No more so than the rhetoric of Harper and his acolytes when sitting in opposition. Far less so than the stuff often said on this site by CPC hacks about Liberals.

        • “that is quickly written off”….good english is always good….

        • So they didn’t admit guilt for overspending and eventually stump up about $275k in fines. Only one party has a proven previous record regarding systemic breaches of election law. Forgive me if I take previous record into account in my deliberations.
          This isn’t a hockey game where “getting away” with rule breaking is fine if the umpire didn’t see it.
          As for extreme language… really?

    •  I think a big part of the decision to go ahead would be that even if they were caught they already won the riding, and they’d have five years to put the public to sleep over it, while being able to run party and government ads 24/7.

      • Right now there’s a “Government of Canada” ad I’ve seen frequently warning people about using “immigration counsellors” who use fraud to help people immigrate.  Given that prospective immigrants are unlikely to be watching Canadian television (I understand one can only apply to immigrate from outside the country), it seems that the sole purpose of this ad is to instill in Canadians the idea that immigrants are sneaking into the country illegally, and thus enforcing the culture of fear that the CPC uses to entice support.

        • good point logician about reinforcing the culture of fear….considering that we need lots of immigrants in the near future to help fill empty jobs, and to contribute to the taxes, and the Social Safety Net, including Health Care, and Government Pensions (like OAS and GIS)….i really do not understand why these Conservative/Fascists ARE instilling this culture of fear of immigrants in Canadians, who are already fearful and hateful enough towards immigrants. it doesn’t make sense in an economic way…although politically it does give them another handle on power…the fear approach.

          you don’t have to apply out of the country if you are married to a Canadian, although they do encourage it still…you can apply from within the country on “humanitarian” grounds…as my Malaysian wife did.

          • I do believe you can also apply from in the country as long as you send the application elsewhere (to the States or to the canadian embassy in your home country

        • Well Logician, perhaps there are people already in country legally, but for a specific length of time. Perhaps some of these individuals may contemplate immigrating to Canada. Perhaps, they occasionally watch TV. Perhaps they may have considered the possibility of finding a shortcut to citizenship. Perhaps the aforementioned warnings about illegal procedures is then justified

    •  Who on earth wants to hire or work with THAT?
      The corporations who bought and paid for Conservative party policies?  The PR firms that the Conservatives paid to facilitate the dirty work?  The right-wing-funded think tanks such as the Fraser Institute whose job is mainly lying anyway? 
      Think there are no Halliburtons in Canada?  Think again.

  2. It is likely that getting a majority at all costs was the plan — with four years to implement their agenda unopposed they could (they probably believed) change Canada forever from the nation that believed in the strong supporting the weak to one more like the survival of the fittest example to our south.  Once this plan is realized it doesn’t matter much who forms the government (especially if the next one’s only a minority).

    •  ha, should have read this reply before posting my own!

    •  very good points logicfan….i do believe they intend to change Canada into US-lite too….but then Harper is from “Texas of the North” (Alberta) where they really do believe in American style everything.

  3. So the Opposition demanding more powers for EC is just more “spin” and “framing” as according to Jean-Pierre Kingsley, they have all the power and money they need to investigate.

    • Sure.. 5 years ago.
      Welcome to the next decade.

      • “Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Elections Canada’s chief electoral officer for 17 years before retiring in 2006, said his old agency has ample powers and resources to tackle the massive influx of bogus-call complaints triggered by the Guelph story. Kingsley pointed out that Elections Canada has unlimited authority to spend on the investigation, without asking for government approval, and a standing agreement with the RCMP to call in Mounties, including specialists on combing through computer databases. “We have every indication from Elections Canada that they are able to carry out the work,” he said.”

        • “before retiring in 2006”

          Authority to spend does not equate to power to call forth records. Being able to call in mounties does not equate to the power to call forth records.

          And I’ll point out: “After the 2008 election, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand recommended key changes to his powers. Among other things, Mayrand asked for the right to compel parties to turn over documents to verify details on the post-election expense returns they are required to file. ”

          I see your 2006 retired CEO and give you the 2008 -present CEO, who probably knows more about the current state of EC and what it needs.

    • Except that it was the current CEO of EC who asked for more powers, the opposition rather predictably backed him. Doing a little framing of our own aren’t we?

  4. When will we hear from Marty Burke, the Conservative candidate in Guelph? 

    • His assistant campaign manager, Prescott has lawyered up and now won’t talk to EC. 

  5. When if ever is Harper going to realize he’s become what he hated? Hindsight notwithstanding it’s easy to see the opportunity that lay within his grasp in 06. He was the fresh faced guy from out west; the new broom ready to sweep away those tired old grits…it was all there, the accountability platform, the new policies, the. new and younger team; he had caught the zeitgeist. And he blew it. It’s conservatives and most of all westerners who should feel ripped off.
    I know this is far from over, the opp parties might easily blow this yet and Harper is the old lobo now, but really this can never end as well as it once looked like it might for a brief instant.

    •  Ya gotta wonder what would happen if he had moved the party a bit farther to the right than they are now, but at the same time was utterly scrupulous and went out of his way to be accountable and forthright? 

      Of course recent political history would be absolutely, completely different.  There would have been no election in 2008 because it would have violated fixed election rule.  And he wouldn’t have been able to appoint anybody to the senate, so there would be no conservative majority there.

      •  You could even make the argument that since he had mused about forming a coalition, the honourable thing would have been to step aside and accept PM Iggy. (I don’t share this view, I think Harper’s request was allowable but the GG messed up accepting it.  His comments about legitimacy afterwards were, however, unjustifiable).

      • It’s always been my view that a majority was there for the taking long ago if only Harper had been a big enough man; he wasn’t, and he still isn’t.

      • You mean like Joe Clark? Or for that matter, like Harper ca. 2004 (remember – when Harper ran against adscam, he lost)? 

        The absence of scruples has historically been a plus, not a minus, in Canada. Here is a list of PM’s with major scandals:
        -William Lyon Mackenzie King (Customs and Excises scandal – papered over by the King-Byng affair, in a similar manner to Harper’s approach to the coalition crisis, also the Beauharnois scandal)
        -John A. Macdonald (Pacific Rail Scandal)
        -Jean Chretien (Adscam)
        -Louis St. Laurent (Alberta Pipeline scandal)
        -Robert Borden (wartime profiteering by Sam Hughes)
        -Brian Mulroney (Airbus scandal)
        -John Diefenbaker (Munsinger affair)

        Here is a list of PM’s that had basically scandal-free tenures:
        -Pierre Trudeau (clearly a political success)
        -Wilfrid Laurier (also a political success)
        -Alexander Mackenzie (a one-termer)
        -Lester Pearson (never able to win a majority)
        -Paul Martin (lasted 2 years)
        -Joe Clark (lasted 9 months)
        -Arthur Meighen (lost badly in 1921, not able to form a lasting government after being appointed PM by Byng)
        -John Turner (placeholder)
        -Kim Campbell (placeholder)

        PMs I know next-to-nothing about:
        -John Abbot
        -Mackenzie Bowell 
        -Charles Tupper
        -John Thompson

        Certainly it is possible to govern cleanly without losing office, as Trudeau and Laurier did. However it is not the norm in Canadian politics – and clearly our corrupt PM’s were more successful on average than our non-corrupt ones. Maybe that is because our less successful PM’s didn’t have enough time to have scandals, but their scruples probably didn’t help. The kind of people that are willing to profit from office, are also the kind of people that are willing to do what it takes to win.

        • Harper is a keen student of history, is that what you’re saying?

          • Hooray!! I love Trudeau too!! Imposing the War Measures Act was an ACT of brilliance… like Bilingualism, what a fantastic way to sow the seeds of destruction… also a great way to spend 1.3 trillion dollars and counting… woo-hoo!!  Trudeau built Canada, and he was a hero in the mold of other great leaders like, Castro, Mao, Stalin, those guys were great too… woo-hoo!!! Maybe thats whats wrong with “Harper”, he doesn’t love our God, Pierre… meh… whatever… I hate “Harper” too, and there is nothing irrational about that… Hooray!!!

          • ‘Nutsbars for Harper’ – very committed bunch.

        •  I’m not sure the low bar Harper set for himself has done him huge amounts of good, politically – unless they’ve been necessary to hide evern larger problems.

    • Clinically speaking, I would suggest that Harper is filled with self hate, which he finds so abhorrent and unacceptable, that he copes by projecting his own lack of morality and hatred onto the world outside. This would explain his pathological hatred for the federal Liberal and NDP parties, Elections Canada, the Supreme Court, etc. Many see Harper as the consummate narcissist. This would be only one symptom of the overall mental picture. I would suggest psychopathy would be a more reasonable diagnosis.

      • Actually, he’s the head of a race of alien lizard people (in disguise, of course) that has arrived on our planet to enslave us all.  Rise up!

        • It’s true! If you look closely of that photo of him holding the kitten, you can see him salivating. I think there should be a RCMP investigation into what became of that kitten after the photo op was over.

      • How dare “Harper”, if thats his real name.. yeah right… “hate” our Trudopian State!! One thing “Harper” doesn’t have that we “Liberal”/ NDPQers have… our corrupt media whores… ha, ha, ha… take that “Harper”!

  6. It’s about time more came out on these idiots…I don’t believe for one second harper wasn’t aware..he is a dictator with his party and canadians…he knows exactly what goes on and approves what will be happening…it will come back to bite them with there transparency crap..they all disgust me…

    • I think what shows up on this page as on many right now is the absolute hate.. and I mean the word hate … that many of the writers harbor against the PC.. No matter what the issue was the extreme left wing writers on this page are like the extreme left wingers right now in the Us —- hate is hate is hate..   And any excuse to put down the other side is well worth it. Horrible tactics but most of us are smart enough to now know who is behind the postings.. 
      I am stunned that the same kind of strong verbage was not thrown at the then Minister of health Mr. George Smitherman when hundreds of millions of dollars could not, was not, and is not yet accounted for.  BTW that is your and my money — so why arent you people consistent in your outrage — I think I know by – because you are the left wingers who see not the good PM Harper and his govt have done – and yes a heck of a lot more good than the Liberals ever did from trudeau on … and look at the mess of Ontario under mcGiunty.. look at th billions of dollars in debt on your backs —   Why no outrage —  Why are Canadians not outraged in seeing McGuinty almost destory manufacutring in a once profitable Province..
      Your outrage folks is quite misplaced.—   Take 5 and do your homework!

      •  The Irony of this post above is this – the writer mentions the extreme left and makes notes on Trudeau and others in the Liberal party. What he forgets is simple. Durring the last liberal era, Mulruney’s big mess was cleaned up, we were running budget surplusses and debt was being paid. The size of Government was reduced and many social issues were being dealt with in a progressive and prominent way.

        Since Mr. Harper returned, the GST was slashed, causing less money to be rendered to general revenues, while economists (of whom Mr. Harper is one) are suggessting adding consumption taxes on basic food products rather than peanalizing he who wishes to buy a $150,000.00 sports car instead of a $2500.00 used mini-van to take your kids to events.

        At the same time, corporations such as big banks are getting all the benefits while the middle class is being laughed at. Not everyone is about extreme right or left but more central, however, Alberta seems bent on removing transfer payments yet they want to control all of the country on their whim. we are all citizens of Canada, the hate you speak of comes from statements like “dippers” “fiberals” and wacko lefties when in fact I want openess, transparency and honest and ACCOUNTABLE government, something these Reformers seem to have forgotten.

        • . . . so it’s ok to hate Albertans and Reformers?

          • Albertans and Reformers tend to be Old Testament types; they shouldn’t be surprised when, after declaring their hatred for the RoC or for the “left” that those they despise return the sentiment.

          • “Albertans and Reformers tend to be Old Testament types”

            Really?  So do you have, you know, actual evidence to back this statement up?  Or did you just pull it out of your butt?

          • Going by the comments they post on here – and by who they choose to elect. There seems to be a distinct uniformity of thought.

        • Why are we getting all these people suddenly calling Con’s  PC’s – some wave of nostalgia?

      • Well first of all I’m not a liberal either..I can’t stand any politicians..they are all the same crooked self serving idiots who feed off the public trough…it is not hatred voicing my opinion..one thing though is conservatives hysterical when something comes out on them..harper is just like any politician except he is a bit worse with his secretive dictator style way he is with his party..our outrage is right where it needs to be…they have no business fooling around with voters..no party does..but this is how sleazy politics has become …if we can’t win lets cheat…as far as money and accountability no party is clear there..lthey all do it…

      • Money’s money.
        Elections are priceless.

        •  Sums it up quite nicely.

  7. Very juicy article re Julian Fantino stealing that byelection in Vaughn Nov. 2010 with Rack9’s help:The first office was occupied by campaign manager Michael Crase and Julian Fantino himself. The second one was for PMO communications expert Stephen Lecce, volunteer co-ordinator Madi Murariu and “a large man with a reddish goatee” who worked on “a computer bank and to my knowledge managed the electoral data for the campaign.”http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/03/08/michael-harris-was-a-political-super-weapon-part-of-robogate/♥

    • No question … the religious right thing is just another vehicle borrowed from the success of the American right wing 
      to deliver power and votes … which has been demonstrated to have some degree of success.

  8. RWA:  Right-Wing Authoritarian Followers
    snip snip  So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views.  Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.
    Which suggests authoritarian followers have a little volcano of hostility bubbling away inside them looking for a (safe, approved) way to erupt.

    • Translation:  all Conservatives are Evil.

      • Harper is no conservative…….I MISS the Progressive Conservatives

        • Corrected translation:  Harper is Evil.

      • That’s not what I got from that. Or are you just bragging?

    •  thanks for the reference to Bob Altemeyer’s groundbreaking work with Right Wing Authoritarians. his research spanned some forty years he said, and he and his team came up with some very interesting questionnaires and studies which are well worth the reader’s time in exploring the world of Right Wing Authoriarians. after studying some of this book you will most certainly be able to spot one (a high scoring RWA) a mile away…as soon as they open their mouths…or make some lame ass comment on a news story…RWAs abound on this comment list…mostly they spout Conservative/Fascist talking points and are immune to reason, or evidence. Ideology trumps every thing else. They never let the truth stand in the way of a good Ideological talking point….

  9. Ray Novak:  Steve Harper’s Closet Confidant
    He used to live above Steve Harper’s garage.  Now he may be the second most powerful man in Ottawa.
    “Ray is effectively the Prime Minister’s closest confidant,” enthuses one government official. “Not only as a member of his staff, but as a personal and intimate member of the Prime Minister’s life.”

  10. Much ado about nothing

    Driven by a few lefties with US backed websites

    Yawn ………

    • go back to sleep…nothing to see here…move along… move along

  11. Just to let you liberals and ndp know, the LIbrals had addscam the ndp bingogate both stealing money. The librals raised intrest in the 1970s and 1990s stiffeling small buisness. In 1980 trudeau created the national energy program which broke most of the small and medium sised businessin western Canada.When they figure out whom did the bad phone calls punish them under the law.
    The librals and ndp are not without skelitons in their closets.

    • That’s really interesting.  Could you tell me how the National energy program, specifically, broke most small businesses–and medium sized ones, too, in Western Canada?  I’d like to learn more about how, precisely, the National energy program caused that effect.

    • So you are ok with electoral fraud because other political parties have been less than ethical at times?????

    • Yes, all political parties have their moments of shame and disgrace. That’s not an excuse to continue to behave badly.

      One of Harper’s chief mantras when in opposition was how he was going to bring an end to corruption and lead clean, accountable and transparent governments. To bring it to your level of discourse: Liar, liar, pants on fire…

  12. Considering what a tight grip Harper is proported to have on his minions, it is hard to believe robocalls would have been done without his approval and knowledge.  The whole Conservative ego dominated philosophy seems to be to win at all costs, with the end justifying the means. If these allegations are true, this Gov’t should be recalled.

  13. The Conservative response to this scandal continues to lag behind the details that keep emerging regarding its scope and source.  After starting with flat out denials and accusations that the opposition parties were to blame, Canadians are being asked to accept the admission that there were problems in one riding, and trust that the story stops in Guelph.  

    The thing is, as indicated in this very article, the fraudulent robocalls were not contained to one riding, but quite widespread across the country. It has also been reported that the deceptive robocalls were often preceded by actual calls from CPC call-centres engaged in voter identification drives trying to discern the intentions of local voters.  Non-conservatives so identified would soon after begin to get the ubiquitous Elections Canada robocalls that attempted to mislead thousands of voters. Elections Canada has also confirmed that it is their view that many of these robocalls were specifically targeted towards senior citizens who did not intend to vote Conservative.  

    What also confounds the Conservative’s position that Guelph was an aberration rather than the rule in this scandal is that other types of irregularities have been reported in certain close ridings.  In one Toronto riding, thousands of late voter registrations were submitted with false or inaccurate addresses – a number that is without precedent for a local race.  In Julian Fantino’s riding, new allegations have emerged (from three of his own former staffers no less) that he may have broken election finance laws by operating a second campaign bank account.  Then toss in the fact that the only party in Canada with a source of detailed information about non-conservative voters is the Conservative party and their CIMS database, a database that would have made it easy to direct fraudulent robocalls to voters.  

    It all points to the notion that Guelph was not the exception to a clean campaign, but the most easily visible evidence that an effort to coordinate a voter suppression campaign on a national scale was attempted in the 2011 Canadian Election.  The Conservative government has more than a perception problem on their hands in this matter.

  14. The Council of Canadians say that If an individual elector in a riding feels that there has been an irregularity, fraud, corruption or illegal practice that has affected the result, they can launch a legal action to annul the result. 
    The Council is now analyzing all survey results by riding to determine next steps, including the possibility of supporting applicants who wish to pursue legal action. 
    Ridings of particular interest have emerged, including:

    Nipissing-Timiskaming – margin of victory = 18 votesEtobicoke Centre – margin of victory = 26 votesYukon – margin of victory = 132 votesElmwood-Transcona – margin of victory = 300 votesSaskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar – margin of victory = 538 votesMississauga East-Cooksville – margin of victory = 676 votesWinnipeg South Centre – margin of victory = 722 votesDon Valley East – margin of victory = 870 votesWillowdale – margin of victory = 932 votesVancouver Island North – margin of victory = 1,827 votesKitchener Waterloo – margin of victory = 2,144 votesSouth Shore-St. Margaret’s – margin of victory = 2,915 votesEglinton-Lawrence – margin of victory = 4,062 votes

  15. 597,000 visitors go to cbc.ca daily… according to statbrain.com….most “commentors” are against the Harper governnment…that’s a lot of angry people.                                                                      

    Todays Vancouver Observer newspaper says a “dirty tricks” symposium was held at Delta Victoria Resort on Jan22-23/10….35 people were in attendance including Michael Sona…guest speaker was Kory Tenecyk, former press secretary to Steven Harper….the course was entitled “the skills it takes to win”. John Freyer a professor at the university of Victoria was there and informed the Vancouver Observer of the going-ons over the two day affair…..instructions on how to phone people and fool them into telling you what party they would vote for and how to misdirect voters to non-existant polling stations was on the agenda. Moving campaign funds around to gain more compensary amounts from the federal government was also discussed.

    • you consider the cbc and the handful of posters there, not even close to 600k.. its the same few democracy haters everyday,  to be credible and in the cbc s case unbiased.. The cbc could gain some credibility by saying that they are a left leaning rat pack.

      • I agree the CBC posters are very left-leaning. But how does that equate to “democracy hater”? Vote suppression: that’s hatred of democracy in action.

  16. For this Government to admit that there may have been problems surely raises a lot more questions about their legitimacy to continue to govern. Harper has always maintained control of the message that goes out during and after elections. No candidate would have been allowed to go out and do what the National party did not approve of. The Conservative Party is a very centralized controlled party not a regionally controlled one. 

  17. just received robo-mail from bob rae.. asking “who do you trust to protect seniors benefits?”  amazingly they put conservatives in the prime place… The picture of Bob Rae is at least 10 years old. and I would bet that the input they ask for will be ignored.. So why are we being annoyed with this garbage?  Postage Paid.. by federal government.

    • Sounds like a ten-percenter mailing. The CPC is notorious for their use of these; you’re saying other parties aren’t entitled to the same perks?

      Haven’t seen the pamphlet, but re your statement “amazingly they put conservatives in the prime place…” – I’m betting that if you look, the parties are listed alphabetically.

  18. Now that our smear campaign against the Cons is just about over, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that us “Liberals” are guilty of electoral fraud… again… ( way to go Valiorette), I sincerely hope our media go deaf dumber and blind on this issue. Remember, it’s only a “scandal” when the accusations are leveled at the Cons… thankfully. It’s time for our Media, us “Liberals”, NDPQ and our foreign allies… thank you George Soros… to concoct another “scandal” without proof. IMO we need to manufacture as many “scandals” as possible until we can seize power and get our dirty hands on all that taxpayer cash just sitting there waiting for us to steal… again. Kudos to our Media for a job well done on this “scandal” , great job drones, but it’s time for another “scandal”… lets hope the next “scandal” is just as accusatory and without proof as this one, but it would be nice if on the next “scandal” we don’t have all fingers pointing back at us “Liberals” at the end of it.. it makes us “Liberals” and our media look like desperate lying crooks. 

  19. What baffles me is that this party, and I make a distinction between this party and people who vote conservative or have conservative values, continues to play dirty politics and then screams “unfair!” or “we can’t possibly be resonsible for every phone call…” the minute they feel that it is done to them. It is like a bully who cries when his victim hits back.
    I agee that local campaigns were probably told, or expected to, win at all costs. I truly don’t think this party gets it. This country will never be governed by one party or one set of values, we are too big and seperated by too many ethnic, cultural and geoprahical lines to all agree. The points is we have learned to agree to disagree with a certain underlying respect and knowledge that we have to find some middle ground. All the parties that have come before may have played tough politics, but they uderstood this, including the PC under Mulroney. The fact that these guys continue to act this way after they have won a majority shows that they don’t.

  20. Now we’re in for a sickening 48 hours of absurd false equivalency from the harper conservatives.

  21. If these robocalls and any other examples of election fraud prove to be widespread, I hope this matter takes down the Harper government because they really need to go before they screw the country up any more than they already have! Don’t forget G20 and the vile abuse of authority that happened right here in Canada (albeit with the provincial Liberal government’s misuse of a law); don’t forget about the omnibus crime bill and its heavy-handed approach (including policies that even the Americans advised against)…and new costs from this Neo Con agenda get downloaded to provincial governments already struggling to make ends meet! Don’t forget that the Neo Cons want to monitor YOUR internet usage without court orders in place, disrespecting your right to privacy; don’t forget that the shameful, American-style, negative ad campaigns began with the Neo Cons and that’s made Canadian politics as vile as it’s become in the US; don’t forget that these Neo Cons have had a long string of scandals too; don’t forget that the Neo Cons have shown so little respect for our democratic institutions! Harper doesn’t listen to reason and best advice if it goes against his thick-headed agenda.

  22.  only Reformer/Conservative/Fascists….the rest of Albertans are OK…but those wannabe Texans should just move there, rather than attempting to change Canada into America-Lite.

  23.  only Reformer/Conservative/Fascists….the rest of Albertans are
    OK…but those wannabe Texans should just move there, rather than
    attempting to change Canada into America-Lite.

  24.  they forgot that the PCs got eaten up wholesale in that merger with the Refoooormmm/Fascist Party….

  25. So “no national figures in the party will be implicated” if “senior Tories are right”…
    One translation:

    Hey Big Steve, me and Deano had a talk with that constituency guy, that paisan who did the calling thing that got the marks and the heat all worked up.  Forget about it!  He’s a stand up guy, he’ll take the fall.
    Omerta.  The latest in political morality.

  26.  i’ve seen a lot of heavy duty right winger posters on CBC’s comments too…depends on the topic….immigration gets all the right wingers out frothing at the mouth….robo-calls galvanise the centrists and left wingers…because they are the ones who were cheated in the last elcetion by those tactics. actually as far as i can see theCBC iis a guarantor of  democracy in this country.

  27.  maybe your “robo mail” from “bob rae” is actually robomail from the CRAFPC…the Conservative/Reform/Alliance/Fascist Party of Canada spoofing Bob Rae’s mailings….that would possibly explain the old photo….

    actually i appreciate input for all the parties as to their stands on these issues.

  28.  nice try….fifth columnist agitator.

  29.  they do not understand the rules for civilised politicking…but they DO understand the rules for Machiavellian Politicking, just as Cesare Borgia, and his father Pope Alexander VI understood those same rules….in fact they LAUGH at civilised politicking…they’ve seen what the Republickan/Fascists and their big money pals in the States do, and they see that such lying, hate filled  advertising works.

  30. Let’s talk about how the Liberals engaged in robocalls. Pat Martin? You out there? Hello?

  31. I wish Elections Canada much success in their investigation, but the resolution of in and out does not give confidence.  We heard reports of doctored invoices, campaigns coerced into allowing money to flow in and out of their books, senators involved in the scheme and in the end a plea bargain.  What is a plea bargain except an admission that EC could not really complete the job and just get convictions.  That was a major disappointment and Harper jumped on it trying to make it sound like negotiating a plea bargain exonerated them all.  The stench remained.  I really hope we can expect better in this case, where prison terms could result, but do we have reason to think this time will be better?  We have the same public prosecutor that negotiated the plea bargain last time, right?

  32. The opposition are hoping and praying that the Conservatives will be found to have set up and approved wrongdoing. No doubt they are a bit worried that Election Canada will go beyond looking at the Conservatives and even check out the activities of the Liberals and NDPers. So now, when you lose an election, just lay down and kick your heels on the floor and cry. Then everything will be alright, and maybe they’ll give you another try at it. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to look at these sactimonious, tut-tutting, holier than thou losers

  33. You know I’m sure there’s all kinds of things going on in the Reform Party (That’s Right REFORM and don’t forget it!) that Harper is unaware of. Yeh Right and I’ve got a bridge for sale, oh wait the refomers/neocons sell those too! 

  34. calm down –out there–robo calls will soon be a thing of the past—they all do it——it’s just that– whoever is in power at the time– gets the end of the stick!!!

  35. Bull. The Liberals were winning the 2006 election when the right wing RCMP (maintain the right) announced that the Finance Minister, Ralph Goodale, had profited from the previous budget. The Liberal lead evaporated and the Reform coalition formed a minority. It was a coup by the palace guard. 2005:  a one million dollar insurance policy for a walking dead Chuck Cadman. 2006: Canada’s top cop tells the country that the finance minister is a crook. 2008: Harper breaks his own law and illegally calls an election as the world begins to meltdown. Harper promises a balanced budget, no recession, and no job losses even though America’s been in recession since 2007, Canada is in monthy deficits and is about to lose jobs at a faster rate than the States. Tories break election laws and many years and elections later is fined $52,000 for the in and out illegal funding which finances the palace coup. They are also forced to give Elections Canada a quarter million bucks in bad campaign funds. Twice in the next eighteen months they padlock the House of Commons for months (the first time, Tory thugs surrounded the Governor General’s home and hotline hosts and guests physically threatened her). The Tory coalition forced a foreign born woman, representing a foreign woman, to evict Members of Parliament to prevent the majority from firing the minority (works in the third world or Florida). 2011: again Harper breaks his own law and calls another election where 308 Conservative thugs hand pick supporters and evict Canadians from public places. One female teen with a head scarf is removed from a public event after Tories spy on her facebook account to see her posing with Ignatieff. The billionaire-owned press allows 308 thug candidates to robo repeat, “…a strong, stable, majority, Conservative government”. Despite the 2008 no deficits, no debt, no recession, no job loss propaganda, the Tory coalition is able to keep its’ agenda secret and a few months after the election attack seniors’ pension which Harper had sworn he wouldn’t. Dirty tricks? Robocalls are just the latest manifestation of a government that turns prisoners of war over to the most brutal, corrupt regime on Earth.