Guelph and everything after -

Guelph and everything after


Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor look at the investigation in Guelph.

A production order executed on RackNine Inc. in Edmonton compelled the company to turn over all emails, billing records and other correspondence between it and “the Conservative party general election campaign in Guelph.” The court order also required the Conservative-connected company to hand over the user names, passwords and IP addresses of anyone associated with the Guelph campaign who used RackNine between March 26 and May 31.

The order also required RackNine to release records of calls that used the number 450-760-7746. The Bell Canada phone number in Joliette, Que., appeared on call displays of some recipients of the fraudulent election day calls in Guelph. Sources close to the investigation have indicated the number was assigned to a disposable “burner” cellphone, purchased with cash and then used to call RackNine.

The Citizen talks to Jean-Pierre Kingsley. The Star focuses on the Responsive Marketing Group.


Guelph and everything after

  1. No shortage of columns out today, even in the conservative Calgary Herald, showing that traditional conservative supporters are truly upset about their government’s corruption.  Glad to see that even the most committed conservative has some decency and knows when something is just plain wrong.

    Check out this letter from a longtime dedicated con worker, found in today’s Star:–ex-conservative-has-warning

    • Difference between small c and big C conservatives. Just because you’re a conservative, doesn’t meant you have to like the CPC

      • I’m curious: if you are a conservative and you do not like the cpc, then how do you vote? 

        • Step 1: Go to the polling station provided to you in that mysterious last-minute call from “Elections Canada.”

          Step 2: Look around in confusion, then leave because you’re late for work.

          The CPoC’s perfect scenario for those who don’t like them.

    • “Long-time dedicated con worker”….hmm, he is a university student…how longtime could he be?

  2. Aaron…

    The star had something else on Robocall today. I’m sure you’re familiar with the writer, Chantal Hebert. She’s quite good you know.

    Any reason why her column didn’t make your “need to read” about Robocall for today???

    Maybe you could update your post title to “Guelph and ALMOST everything after”

    Or perhaps “Guelph and most things after, but not those things that might lead to questions about whether the CPC is behind this or not”

    Come on man. If you’re going to link to everything and anything Robocall from your mainstream press colleauges…then bloody well do it. Don’t hide stories with very relevant information because it might lead to a conclusion that you don’t want.

    • john, why can’t Aaron run his blog the way he wants?  We all have access to all these online stories —  yes I read Hebert this am, among others — but I am dying to know why  you think you have the right to tell Aaron how to manage his blog?  He’s not your public servant, and a blog is the same as a print column — ie opinion-based.

      You could always start your own blog and link to whatever you think is most interesting.  I would comne and read it if you provided the link.

      • He can. But one of the nice things at these mostly unmoderated comment boards is that I’m free to criticize how he does it, for as long as Aaron and the powers that be at Maclean’s are willing to let me.

        If you’re going to run a one stop shop for all things robocall…then do it. By not doing it, and excluding very relevant things that may call CPC guilt into question, it’s a fair question for me to ask what Aaron’s true motives are here.

        • Okily dokily, if that’s fun for you — I appreciate the response.  Personally in a blog, I expect opinion and bias — and MacLeans bloggers seem to have varying loyalties, so it all works out to be fair.  

        • “…  it’s a fair question for me to ask what Aaron’s true motives are here.”

          I think Canada’s msm overwhelming Liberal bias makes for boring reading and bad governance but it does help Conservative Party. Constant criticism from Lib msm means Cons have to adapt, grow while Libs grow slothful and weak because they rarely face dissent. 

          Cons will take some actions to limit damage, which will improve their organization, while party of Warren Kinsella fester pointing out how everyone is inadequate and a crook except themselves.

          • Yes, I believe it’s certainly true that the CPC have had to hone their skills more and the Liberals have been allowed to become lazy, knowing that they will not get similar flak.

            But at the same time, it leaves me with no party to vote for when I tire of the CPC. And I’m pretty much there.

            Look at Obama, and how the media have underplayed stuff like Fast and Furious, and Jon Corzine’s Obama ties in the MF Global debacle. George Bush would never have been given such a free pass on scandals of such magnitude.

            We have the same problem here. And in an environment where they are all corrupt, the least evil is to keep voting in the CPC, and at least the media is motivated to keep them honest and expose them. If the LPC is voted back in, I’m far less comfortable that this will happen.

        • Rather than squawking why didn’t you post Hebert’s article? 

          • The link to Hébert’s article is in his original comment.

      • Aaron can and does run his blog exactly how he wants to….it is after all, an opinion piece….not meant to be objective.  We all know that Aaron, like many others has already decided on the guilt of the prime minister and the Conservative party.  Of course, he wouldn’t want to point out any facts that might raise doubt as to that guilt.

    • Last day of the campaign. Someone in the party comes up with this scheme, grabs the CPC   contact list and, because they’re doing it in a rush, just uses the “voting for someone else” field as the data Racknine is to call.

      If anything, the fact that a bunch of people in settled ridings was called points to this scenario, especially when you consider how we have virtually no complaints from CPC supporters about being called.  

      I will submit that this might make it simply a case of absolutely gross negligence on the part of the party rather than an orchestrated scheme from the top — allowing a staffer to have access to the lists, and the Racknine account without any oversight or needing anybody to sign off on the use of the account still strikes as basically a criminal case of negligence.

      But I still don’t know that I believe there was no oversight. As Coyne said, it seems a bit fishy how many people are able to so quickly point fingers at someone for something supposedly nobody knew about.

      As we already know from their admissions in the House, the CPC sees absolutely nothing wrong with giving people misleading information (ala Cotler) and views it as simply part of their free speech. Because of that, I don’t find it at all difficult to believe that someone signed off on it without really thinking about what it meant — until the RCMP got involved.

      • OR….maybe the voters of the winning party just don’t bother complaining because they are busy celebrating the win.

        • That might’ve made sense the first day this story hit. A few days later and still practically nothing? Never mind the complaints from those before the election was over.

          Not to mention that MacKay himself has said that someone in the CPC party did it. Did you forget that little bit?

        • The complaints from Guelph actually hit the internet the day of the election, before the results were known.  Your triumphalism theory is both implausible and disgusting.

          • Winning and suppressing the opposition by whatever means seems to be the Con theme. Not much on democracy and certainly not very gracious.  

      • Sounds plausible.

        But if that’s the case…man. I’m really having a hard time believing the national campaign are that stupid. There is no real attempt being made to cover tracks here…everything points right back to them. There are so many ways something like that can go wrong and be exposed. I’m not saying the CPC wouldn’t do such a thing if they thought they could get away with it…I just don’t see how they could have such a thought when trying something of this scope. They may be ruthless and conniving, but they aren’t stupid.

        • Not really a lot they can do to cover tracks. Phone records are phone records. The only thing they can do, other than admit, apologize, and learn, something foreign to the campaign DNA, is what they have done. Take out a fall guy, get rid of any internal records, and hope the public buys the “rogue staffer” explanation.  They’d rather be seen as criminally stupid than simply criminal. After all, most of their supporters are willing to excuse the former if the alternative is a Liberal or NDP government.

          As for how they could go through with it.. remember, we’re talking about these guys doing it at the end of the campaign period. That’s the end of a couple weeks of extreme stress/overwork. They’d already had to deal with “muddying the waters” for the AG’s report, the idea of respecting the voter was the first thing drowned in those waters.

          • Well for starters, they can stop sh!tting where they eat.

            Look at how Obama does this kind of thing. Everything is done through an arms-length proxy. They don’t send Democratic party officials to intimidate voters in Philadelphia, they send the Black Panthers to stand outside a polling station with clubs. Media management? Done through Media Matters for America. ACORN. SEIU. All of it can be written off as the actions of a rogue supporter organization.

            If you’re going to play dirty, why not build in some plausible deniability and get the National Citizen’s Coalition, or similarly like-minded organization, to run with stuff like this?

          • You’re assuming a level of competence that we really don’t have any evidence exists.  For all the talk about the CPC’s vaunted strategic genius, it’s basically boiled down to attack advertising, a split left vs united right, and completely jaw-droppingly bad performance from the Liberals. 

          • “For all the talk about the CPC’s vaunted strategic genius …. ” 

            Erasmus ~ In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

        • If they believed they would win ridings, they could still have done it on a cost-benefit analysis – even if discovered, any likely penalty isn’t as bad as actually getting a close riding.  And since they’ve gotten away with an enormous amount of crap, they might have figured the “adscam!” “voters don’t care!” bit would work for them yet again. 

          • This is part of why I think the penalty for this should be extremely severe.  I want it to be in the bones of the guys in the back room that  you do *not* pull crap like this. So bad that if someone suggests something like it in a brainstorming meeting they get shouted down and laughed out of the room.

      • When I worked on campaigns, the campaign manager often kept things from the candidate — just wanted the candidate on the doorstep, talking to people.  It was the back room people who made decisions like this.  So when an MP declares they knew nothing about it — and the back room wants them to be ablle to say that in all truth — I believe that person.  Such mechanisms would be, from my perspective, promoted by back roomers with huge power like Doug Finley, Bruce Carson — not them specifically, but those with power in the background.   That’s where the decisions are made.  And of course, in most cases, the party assigns the campaign managers.  They get to be dirty without being in the public eye, and the candidate gets to remain clean for the public eye.

        • Alas, this is most likely. Yes, responsibility will end there. It’s the legal hair-split. Built in plausible deniability. Yet it leaves unanswered the accusations of permitting the environment that allows the behaviour. Unfortunately, there’s no law against that. Except an election. You get the government you deserve, they say. And that is now called blaming the victim.

          • doug, if responsibility is found to live with the backroom party boys, that is a big harm to the party and to the MPs who currently form government.  I am not actually satisfied that the scope of the corruption will ever be proven — and I am pretty sure it didn’t start and end in Guelph.

      • It’s not like Rack9 is running a charity.  Someone would have to sign off on an invoice for the election-day calls, be it a campaign manager, candidate, or war-room official.  Unless it was already paid for under the terms of Rack9’s contract (i.e. the volume of calls was planned in advance, if not the content).

        • And the fact they’re using these burner phones to hide where the calls are coming from would indicate they know they’re doing something irregular.

      •  maybe, except that the disposable phone makes it premeditated

        • Good point actually, I hadn’t considered that.  Obviously Mr. “Pierre Poutine” knew that this was beyond the usual misleading crap the CPC sends out and went into the area of criminal behavior.

          I’d like to think that this lends weight to the theory that the activity wasn’t vetted by anybody beforehand, but given previous performance of the CPC (not to mention their own admission of guilt in their last go-round with Elections Canada), that may not be the case.

    • I’m not sure that Hebert’s column is exactly “good” for the Tories.  Sure, there’s some “the Liberals and the NDP aren’t great either” examples in there, but as for the issue of the robocalls themselves, I don’t see how Hebert’s column doesn’t fit pretty well with the prevailing narrative elsewhere.  It seems to me that her column amounts to basically “Some Tories appear to have done something extremely slimy, and possibly illegal, but at least they did it incompetently”.  I’m not sure I’d want to hang my hat on that one if I were a CPC supporter.

    • I almost never link to the most prominent columnists. Indeed, I can find just one link (from me) to something by Chantal in the last four years. 

      I tend to focus on news, features and profiles. What analysis or opinion writing I link to is generally from bloggers or voices that I hope to be more widely read.

      • Fair enough. I’d never noticed that before. Guess I don’t really have much to worry about in terms of Hebert getting eyeballs. Thanks for replying.

    • A very interesting column.  It has been reported by persons very close to Stephen Harper that the PM has an obsessive hate for the Liberal Party. A prime minister should be more careful about who he surrounds himself with, like persons he knows have criminal records for repeated fraudulent activities.  One thing for sure, he should have NEVER appointed to the Senate persons under investigation for electoral fraud.  It send the wrong message.  I don’t believe that Stephen Harper is at the root of these robocalls.  But I know that a Senator and former campaign manager agreed to pay $52,000 to have charges dropped against him. Certainly the message sent by Mr. Harper’s trusted appointee to all the campaign workers is that crime pays.

      •  In undergrad a friend ran for student office and I helped on his campaign.  the school was clear that anything done on behalf of the campaign was answerable to by the candidate.  if that’s not the way it is here it’s odd there’s more accountability in something as trivial as student government!

    • Try National Newswatch if you want comprehensive coverage.  This is a blog.

  3. I know that those who comment Liberally here enjoy drinking their own bath water and breathing each other`s odors but is it really necessary to interview every one of the 11% of eligible voters who voted Liberal in the last election.

    I can only find one posting here about the admission of guilt by the Liberal Party concerning the Vikileak dirty tricks, but there appears to be a never-ending series of vague assumptions about telemarketing tactics.

    The danger for the Liberals is that people will quickly tune out from this avalanche of vagueness. I would think that even a majority of that 11% must feel that those power-hungry Liberals would make better use of their time by keeping an eye on what Liberal staffers may be up to.

    Cue the usual slurs toward me.

    •  Ah, so THAT’s the next fake hurdle.  “The calls can’t be real until extensive interviews are given.” 

      What will it be after that?

    • I’ve got to say, vis a vis Vikileaks, I’d say that an opposition party readily admitting to involvement in a slimy activity that was perfectly legal, and accepting the resignation of the person responsible, deserves less coverage than does a government daring the opposition to prove that they operated an illegal vote-suppressing scheme that could potentially mean hefty fines and jail time for people who may have been involved.

      • Good point. The vikileaks dude was fired for engaging in gossip. There is nothing admirable about gossip, but there is nothing illegal about it either. If Mr. Toews feels that he has been slandered, he has the same access to the courts as any other citizen. I doubt that we’ll see any legal action from Mr. Toews. It’s more his style to whine and cry in the House of Commons. Everyone knows, a bully is a coward.

        • If Mr. Toews feels that he has been slandered, he has the same access to the courts as any other citizen.

          I’m no lawyer, but I’m not sure that you can sue someone for slander for posting quotes from publicly available court documents. Also, if I’m not mistaken, truth is an absolute defence against actions for slander or libel.

      • Ok, you`re the voice of experience here.
        However, I thought it rather strange that, in the last 5 days, the blog host here has posted 25 stories about roboleaks and only 1 about the Liberal admission of guilt concerning Vikileaks.

        I would have thought that some of the curious here might have wanted to delve deeper into Vikileaks to see if:
        Has Justin gone on Twitter today to try to recover some of the slander he encouraged to spread last week?
        Did any of the Liberal MP`s know that one of their staffers was secretly using a computer in Parliament to do dirty tricks?
        Is Pat Martin being sued by the telemarketing firm?
        Do any political staffers understand that the technology that is cellphones, and twitter accounts, and Facebook, and e-mails are such that they are for the whole world to read if there is an investigation?

        • The problem for you, Ellen, is that the vickileaks dude has admitted to his misdeed and has been fired for his trouble. There is not much discussion about it because there is nothing more to the story.

          He fu*ked up, he admitted to it, he lost his job because of it. Apologies have been made and there the matter rests. You can try to dig up the corpse and spin it around the floor a few more times but it only makes you look desperate. I suppose in your position, a lose of dignity is not your biggest concern.

          • No, the dude was not fired by his leader. He only resigned after the Speaker`s investigation fingered him as the culprit. There was no spontaneous act of contrition on his part.
             Without the request from Toews that the Speaker investigate Carroll would still be muckraking, Justin would still be tweeting and Rae would still be holier-than-thou.

            I know you would like to forgive and forget and I am sorry if I hurt your sensibilities by hoping for more info on this story, but I would have thought Liberals would realize the importance of telling the whole story.

          • He “offered his resignation & it was accepted.” In the accepted political parlance, he was fired. If you think the actions of Trudeau and Rae and Carrol are more egregious than electoral fraud then you’re welcome to express that asinine opinion until you’re blue in the face.

            If there is more to the story, feel free to tell it. If you have more questions, feel free to ask them. But don’t take my lack of interest as some kind of vindication. I’m just not that interested in the guy who got fired for bad judgement but nothing criminal. I’m interested in the people who are trying to get away with electoral fraud in my country.

          • That’s Ellen, the “non-partisan” partisan for ya.

          • The beacon for fair and balanced, that’s Ellen.

        • I thought it rather strange that, in the last 5 days, the blog host here has posted 25 stories about roboleaks and only 1 about the Liberal admission of guilt concerning Vikileaks.

          The Liberal connection to Vikileaks came out YESTERDAY. Surely you’re not complaining that Macleans bloggers weren’t covering the story for 4 days before it even happened!!!

          • You are absolutely right.
            I will wait patiently for the onslaught of posts on the Liberal connection to Vikileaks over the next 4 days.

          • Maybe people are more interested in electoral fraud than gossip.

          • To Loraine: 
             Last week, before the Liberal admission of guilt in this case, you seemed very interested in continuing the gossipfest against Toews.

        • Investigation of what – nothing illegal was done. 

        • Ah, nothing more blind than a C.R.A.Pper apologist.  Canada seems to come second after their mindless devotion to “the party” –  a betrayal of democracy, a betrayal of their county.  Shame on you, Ellen (or Pierre Poutine or whatever you call yourself today).

    • ‘Vague assumptions about telemarketing tactics’ – nice try but we have the RCMP and Elections Canada investing electoral fraud. 

  4. GUELPH – I can’t help but wonder why no one is mentioning that Guelph, and Guelph Liberals in particular have been plagued with electoral irregularity since the 2008 by-election and election.

    Are we so enamoured with technology and vikyleaks and robocalls that cutting brake lines, spraying hateful graffitis and slashing tires have become passé?  It may just be me but I find it a bit strange that such events occured in 2008 and in 2011, in both Guelph and the Toronto area (Parkdale), where robocalls and live calls are reported, and in the case of Guelph, under investigation.

  5. Of course Ellen I was interested in the gossipfest – we’re talking about Vic Toews, a man convicted of electoral fraud who became the Minister of Justice for Canada. What can I say, I’m always interested in gossip when it gets to people who can pull tricks like that.

    Do you have any gossip of of Senator Finley?  Cause I tell you, I’m even more interested in gossip about this former campaign manager who was appointed to the Senate WHILE under investigation for electoral fraud. How can I not be fascinated by a man who committed electoral fraud, paid $52,000 to get the charges dropped and got a $100,000 a year plus expenses in return, guaranteed til he’s 75!

    • Well, well, well.  And posted at the time.

  6. Innuendos…distortions…..exaggerations…he said…she said…gossip…..indications of malfeasance… suspicions…allegations….persons of interest…maybe this…..maybe that…  HAS to be them….they are ALWAYS like that…..listen to his tone….he exudes guilt……see the way he skulks…..
    Its a shame that the actual House that proclaims Laws is currently not prepared to gather FACTS to determine GUILT.
    We are a nation of laws, We are NOT a Jesse Ventura school of conspirators…let the investigation take its course as it will…its independent and the HOUSE can then review the preponderance of guilt to whatever party it belongs, individual or group.
    But the slanging has to stop. No wonder politics is is a mess in this nation.

  7. Disturbing that the calls were made to Liberals and only the Liberal party would have the phone list of their supporters.

  8. For the most part
    the “racknine” findings were dumped on the public  by the MSM on garbage-day, last Friday.
    Usually a garbage day dump dose the trick, then go onto new stuff on Monday.

    But this is Tuesday
    and it’s still going strong.

    I guess blowing it
    self out is all that’s left and blowing it self out is likely what well happen.

    Canada dose not have
    a solid check and balance system in place at least one that Harper can’t

    Harper’s culture of
    lying, deceiving, cheating, character assassination win at all costs sets the
    modus-operandi for the entire party,

    The call center at
    Thunder Bay and rack9 came into existence for that purpose.

    Many news, radio and
    tv media are slow-pitch Cons. assisting 
    the culture of Harper.

    So Canadians just
    suck it up same-old, same-old.


    Straw poll time.


    If an election were
    held today, who would you vote for


  9.  I do not believe the Cons will be found guilty on this — not the central organization anyway.  Many people need to question their own willingness to join what begins to look like a replay of the Salem witch trials. We seem to learn nothing from the mistakes of the past.

    • And it’s the opposition thatis is supposd to be hysterical?