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New media reports of phone calls about polling stations in Ottawa-Orleans, Wascana, Thunder Bay-Superior North, Peterborough and Ottawa-West Nepean.

Harpur remembers an elderly man she phoned who on Vandenbeld’s behalf on election day. He told her that because of a call he had advising him that his polling station had been changed, he walked more than three kilometres to the new poll only to be told he was in the wrong place. After walking back home, he told Harpur he was too tired to go back out to vote, even with the ride that was offered. He said it was the first time he would not have voted.


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  1. Dan Gardner:
    Adding to the uncertainty is the simple fact that we are now dealing with memories.

    “Did you receive a #robocall or harassing phone call during the election?” a reporter asked on Twitter. “Tweet me!” Seems a reasonable thing to ask. But the election was almost a year ago. And the media are now saturated with the narrative about phone scams during the election. Inevitably, many people’s memories of phone calls received during the election will adjust to fit their current perception of what happened during the election. That’s Psych 101. They will have recollections that are clear, compelling, and wrong.

    The Simpsons ~ Mr Lisa Goes To Washington:

    Page: Senator, there’s a problem at the essay contest.
    Senator: Please, son, I’m very busy.
    Page: A little girl is losing faith in democracy!
    Senator: Good Lord!

    • Anything is memory one second after it happens.  The process you are describing of course can be a possibility but by no means a certainty.  

    • But Tony, think about how memory works.  Things that happened that were insignificant aren’t remembered until all of a sudden, people are talking about it — and then you think, yeah, that happened to me too.  Your old friend says, “Remember when we were kids and you peed in the well?”  But you didn’t remember that at all until he said it — memory sometimes needs prodding.

      I never thought about it at all, even though I am interested in politics and active (I won’t call myself a partisan because I never vote for the party I truly support) — but I know I had a robocall from the Palliser conservatives on EDay, and I know whatever they said was incorrect — but I remember calling the candidates office and correcting them about something but I do not for the life of me remember what the call  said that I knew was wrong.

      I had more robocalls during this election than ever before.  I don’t know why they think they are more effective.  Since I live in SK and NOT in Ralph’s riding, this would not have been against Liberals but against NDP — the young lawyer candidate here seemed a shoe-in to beat Old Ray Boughen, but Ray squeaked by. 

      My point is, I never even remembered the call until this was in the news, and I still don’t remember the actual subject of the call.  But one day, I might wake up at 3 am and it will be there, back in my brain.  Because that is how memory works.

      • If people reported dodgy phone calls right when they occurred, I am more inclined to believe them. If they didn’t report anything but are now remembering a year later, than I am much more skeptical. 

        Wherry’s title gives the game away, really. Add more Liberals who have vague memories of second hand stories about some random guy walking 70 kms to his voting booth but was then too tired to get into a vehicle. 

        Wherry did you notice url of peterborough article – “the-same-dean-who-wipes-the-bum” – wtf is that? Made me laugh but I don’t know what they are trying to tell us.

        • Baseless.

        • I call that and raise you this: If Elections Canada had made clear to all Canadians before the vote that 1) Elections Canada never calls voters 2) any calls voters received purporting to be from EC were serious breaches of the Elections Act and needed to be reported to EC immediately and 3) voters should disregard information about polling stations that comes from other sources — there would have been far more complaints and better records of them (since they’d be done immediately) than was the case in May.

          The situation is that one dodgy call is not an issue. Most people only got one. It’s only when a number of dodgy calls with the same dodge on the same day happen in the same riding that suspicions begin to grow. That changes things.  And who would know about the numbers? Not individual voters, but their MPs, the EC staff at the polling stations that got the complaints from several people. 

          In fact, don’t forget that complaints about calls were coming in before polling day and were numerous enough that EC made a statement to the media stating that they do not call voters.  But go back and check those media reports again from May.  Was any emphasis placed on the seriousness of such breaches (the ones I’ve listed above – let’s not get into the silly harassment stuff just now… let’s deal with criminal activity first)?  Did any EC official encourage voters to document such calls and make sure they lodged an official complaint (seems they don’t take complaints seriously unless you fill in their web forms fully)?  I don’t think you’ll find that was the case.

          Here’s a news item from May2,2011 about what EC had to say

          There’s nothing there encouraging people to report these calls to EC.  Quite the contrary, the last line says that the EC official who talked to the press was not able to say “whether the election agency will investigate the false information.”  How was that kind of lukewarm interest in election fraud going to affect people’s motivation to report calls?  Not too encouraging at all.

          And don’t pounce on this article as evidence that people should have known … this was in the paper the day OF the election. Some people might not have seen it until after they’d voted. Maybe not until the day after, depending on their schedules. And don’t jump all over the fact that not too many people lost their opportunity to vote because of it. The law is that you cannot attempt to do this. You cannot impersonate an EC official or attempt to interfere with a voter getting to a polling station.

          The byelection is the remedy for successful voter suppression that is reasonably suspected to have possibly affected the outcome in a riding.

          So. Don’t blame the individuals who naturally assumed the call they received was nothing much.  Because EC was certainly giving that impression. (And I would like their practices and procedures examined by whatever public inquiry finally gets to the bottom of this scandal, because things need to change at EC.  They need to be more transparent and responsive to the public.  And they need to hand off complaints to the RCMP in a much more timely fashion than has occurred in this election.)

          And again, one call isn’t much if you’ve been given the impression it’s not all that serious. Did you know until the story broke recently and the RCMP were investigating how serious these calls were?  Does the idea of 1000’s of them having taken place not make it more serious? What about 10,000’s?  Getting there? 

          Stay tuned.  One list compiled by a Vancouver paper has the number of ridings where strange calls have been reported logged at 71.  Now we’re getting serious.

        •  Now, finally, another statement from Elections Canada.  CBC’s web site reports today (Mar 2, 2012) that they have received 31,000 complaints to date.

          This election really is going to make the history books.

    •  Dan Gardner also said: “The Conservatives insist they want the truth to be exposed. If that’s
      true, they must appoint a fully independent, fully empowered judicial
      And why shouldn’t they? To paraphrase what many Conservatives said
      about warrantless Internet surveillance, they have nothing to fear if
      they have nothing to hide.”

      • That is Gardner’s opinion – Cons are not going to create a Gomery type commission to investigate their own dodgy actions – I would support commission into how all parties are cheaters and liars trying to subvert voting process.  

        • It’s worth quoting when you agree with it. It’s only his opinion when you don’t.

        • Presumably, the terms of reference for a truly independent commission would mandate an inquiry into the conduct of all the major campaigns. If none of the parties has committed any fouls, then none should object to the investigation. And the body politic would get a much-needed enema.

          Bring it on, I say.

    •  If there was an election every week, I might agree that people’s memories might be fuzzy and undependable after almost a year of them.  But there’s one election every few years.  One event in the last year in which calls of this sort might have occurred. It’s not at all hard to believe people are remembering accurately.

      Unless you’re just having a hard time believing this could happen in Canada.
      “Election fraud on a scale that might mean an illegitimate body is controlling our government? Here?  I can’t believe it! ”

      Personally I have a hard time listening to people who say “I can’t believe that happened.” Or “I can’t believe you did that.” After we’ve both watched it take place.  I often have to bite my tongue to keep from replying “What’s to believe about it? It happened.”

  2. And I’ve heard Harper’s supporters say that these people probably didn’t want to vote all that much if they were going to be derailed by a robo-call. Pathetic!

    • Their communications on this are all over the map!  And have been for about three weeks prior to this particular media blitz scandal.  Changes at PMO Communications?  Maybe.  But they are really doing unbelievably bad crisis communications.

  3. this makes breaks my heart. what are the greater implications of robogate? if even one person’s vote was witheld, is democracy being served?

    • It’s not democracy if votes are being suppressed.

  4. he walked more than three kilometres”

    Uphill.  Both ways. This story isn’t remotely believable.

    • I know. Someone walking somewhere in the suburbs… what an unbelievable story.

    • However your beloved government is very concerned that these stories ring true, hence their awkward crisis communications.  We didn’t do it; we didn’t do it.  But if we did, it doesn’t matter.  Other people did it too.  We didn’t do it.  You’re all sore losers.  I’m taking my marbles and going home.  Oh and we didn’t do it.

      That’s the problem with reputations; they are built on your previous words and actions.  Another reason this is all too believable. 

      If somehow this is proven in court, like the in and out, would you change your vote?  I didn’t think so…conservatives are a-okay with dirty tricks, as long as they  maintain power.

    • Why not? It fits the pattern.

    • Chretien biographer and arch-Liberal “journalist” Lawrence Martin in today’s Grope And Fail: ‘
      ‘The story might be overblown. It’s not Robogate unless more evidence is forthcoming’ 

      I’d provide a link, but Maclean’s deletes them.  Even the rest of the media is skeptical of this fake non-scandal based on tales a five year old wouldn’t believe.

      • So I take it this is the first time you give Martin any credibility.  He also wrote a biography of harper. 

        Since you have trouble posting from that paper, let me help you: you repeated only Martin’s first sentence; I include the first two graphs:

        “The robo-call jury is still out. The story might be overblown. It’s not Robogate unless more evidence is forthcoming.
        What fuels suspicion, however, is the trend line of controversial actions and allegations of dirty tricks by this government. That’s why it’s not so easy to believe Conservative protests of innocence in the robo-calling scandal. In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Stephen Harper, a hands-on prime minister with a history of warring with Elections Canada, dismissed the affair as “a smear campaign” by sore losers.”

    • I am more inclined to give credibility to people who come forward and accept that newspapers name them and print their story, like I read in the G&M today:

      Anonymous political operatives and senator/frausters can post and utter insults all they want, those who come forward using their name would know that they could be sued for  misrepresentations.

      Wouldn’t you tend to believe persons who identify themselves, or would their political penchant automatically make them suspicious to you?