The hunt for Pierre Poutine comes up blank

by Aaron Wherry

Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher uncover a new twist.

Nearly a year after the investigation began, the agency is trying to determine why database records provided by the party appear to be missing entries that could help identify who downloaded the phone numbers used to make fraudulent robocalls, according to a source familiar with the probe … The investigators have inquired about CIMS logs for one particular user in the party’s headquarters. The logs show blanks between this person’s CIMS logon and logoff on the day the Guelph data was accessed, according to the source.

Whatever this may or may not amount to—and let’s stress that there’s no proof here of really anything—the NDP has already issued a Watergate reference (see below).

Update 4:51pm. And below the NDP release, a statement from the Conservative Party.

NDP REALITY CHECK: Electoral Fraud Cover-up: Conservatives have their Rose Mary Woods moment

In 1973, Rose Mary Woods famously erased portions of Richard Nixon’s Oval Office tapes, including a crucial conversation concerning the Watergate burglary, which was deleted forever.

Something similar seems to have happened at Conservative Party headquarters with records that had to do with the ongoing Conservative voter fraud scandal.

According to new media reports, Elections Canada investigators are trying to determine the scope of voter suppression committed by the Conservatives during the last election and the extent the Conservative War Room might have been involved.

“The investigators have inquired about CIMS logs for one particular user in the party’s headquarters. The logs show blanks between this person’s CIMS logon and logoff on the day the Guelph data was accessed, according to the source.” Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor, Postmedia News, April 16, 2012

After months of claiming they were cooperating with Elections Canada, Conservatives must now explain why someone in the Conservative War Room apparently erased this crucial information.

A statement sent out by the Conservative party this morning.

Contrary to media reports, the Conservative Party of Canada is not under investigation for what went on in Guelph. In fact, the Party proactively reached out to Elections Canada and continues to assist them in any way we can. That includes handing over any documents or records that may assist them.

All calls from the national campaign to RackNine were to set up legitimate calls, be it announcements for events or get out the vote purposes.

The hunt for Pierre Poutine comes up blank

  1. Well. Looks like the press might finally get something they can appropriately label “_____gate”

    Gotta admit, I was wondering who Harper would go on to emulate once he’d finished with Chretien and Martin’s terms in office. Not too sure about his choice this time.


  2. Conservatives have their Rose Mary Woods moment

    I thought it was more like Rosa Parks, when she refused to give up her seat to a white person, and  go to the back of the bus. 

    Records=seat. Back of the bus= busted.

    Oops, wrong obscure American historical reference. 

  3. It was the liberals. The liberals hacked into the CPC database and planted false robocall stuff and covered their tracks afterwards.

    If Big D hasn’t already said this, he will. 

  4. This is also traceable, so I hope elections canada gets on it

  5. One can log into a database, and do nothing all day, and then logoff.  No records does not necessarily mean missing records.  In fact, the way most databases work, that would be the logical conclusion.

    How many instances are there of users logging into and out of the database without doing anything are there?

    • No. One can’t. Not the way most live databases work, and especially not the way one with such sensitive data would work. At best one would get 10 minutes of inactivity before it kicked one out.. and when it did so, it’d log that the user was kicked for inactivity.

      • But you cannot delete any actual activity from your database.  No records means no activity, not missing records.

        • Because deleting data is UNPOSSIBLE!
          Really? That’s the argument you’re going with?

          You as user can’t delete the activity. However, someone with administrator privileges can. If the system is set up with any sort of reasonable level of security, that kind of action is also logged (meaning that you can delete information, but that information was deleted (and which administrator did it) is also logged.

          This is why Emily says it’s traceable, and why I say this points to actions of higher ups in the party, because you’re certainly right that a normal user of the system couldn’t delete the info. That takes someone with a lot of trust and access.

          Now they need to find the changelog files.. and hope those weren’t destroyed as well.

          • A proper database is a state machine.  A state machine can only go forward in time, from one state to the next, with every step being logged.   Unlike a tape recorder, it cannot be erased.  If something was “deleted”, it is still in the database.   If it isn’t in the database, it never happened.  

            One can only add things to a proper database.  A “deletion” is just a sequence of more “additions”.  Nothing gets “subtracted”.  Everything should always still be there. just in a different state, because a proper database is a state machine.

          • This is so wrong… databases aren’t some magical thing that accrue data for all eternity. A database administrator would be able to add, delete, move and edit records. It’s much like a library where you can add books, change the title of a book, or throw a book in the bin. What you and the CPC are spinning is pure malarkey.

          • Your right Whyshould and that is exactly what is going to have the Conservative party thrown out of office and probably de-registered to boot

          • That is incorrect. In most modern dbases, it is true that a person with average USER access can’t truly delete things; the record just gets flagged as “deleted” and will no longer be visible. But a dbase admin person – or a good hacker – could likely entirely remove the data.

            (I work in a database publishing environment and spend a fair bit of time with programmers and dbase designers; I am no techie, but my work with them gives me a better than average understanding of what lies beneath the curtain.)

          • Call me when you have a clue about actual computer programming, not just theory.

    • You’re bang on, I suspect. But there’s also nothing indicating that the user was logged in all day. Could have quite possibly logged in to perform some task, had brief conversation with someone else about it, decided they shouldn’t do it, logged out. Could have been logged in for 2 minutes, did nothing, logged out. Maybe a DBA came in, got into usual daily routine, something came up, had to leave office. Logged in, ended up being in meetings all day, logged out at end of day. The possibilities are endless. The fact that some EC official is leaking these incredibly circumstantial details to the media is making it clearer and clearer that the only “scandal” here is the completely irresponsible reporting the “media” has been doing on this story.

      • Click on Rick’s name above and see where it takes you…… but don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards

      • They talk of “missing entries” – which sounds like records were created and assigned unique dbase IDs, but the contents of those records are now blank. Deleted. In most dbases, the unique ID is only assigned when a new record containing data has been saved. That’s not a logon, idle a bit, logoff scenario. That’s just wishful thinking – or deliberate misdirection – on your (and @42243d14388cc867c77bc9dc7859c34c:disqus ’s) part.

      • This is why Occam’s Razor is a useful concept.  All the bafflegab “Rick” and OB and WYSIWYG can dream up make for interesting dream sequences, I’m sure, but the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation:  Someone with administrator priveledges deleted those sections of the database log.

    • Not correct.  A database of this sophistication would record login activity to a user id.  It’s how a database administrator would be able to track who accessed the database remotely.  Any changes to a database would also have a change log of which user did the changes.  So if there are any issues in the data, it can be traced back to the person who changed the record. 
      Any downloads of data would have a log file.  Datadownloading is related to access rights – usually those with higher level rights have data downloading ability because there are higher responsibilities with data downloading (ie a need to adhere to privacy laws, to not disseminate the data in an unauthorized way, etc). 

      Even  a database emarketing tool can analyse who an email was sent to, whether the person opened it, and what links the person clicked on.  The stats can also tell you who forwarded the email and how many times they forwarded it. 

      Now, I suspect the log files are purged after a certain amount of time, because they can get awfully big.  Change logs are generally part of the system itself and cannot be purged without serious effort on the part of the administrator.

  6. Where’s Pierre? introduces readers to Pierre Poutine, a distinctively dressed man, as he sets off on “a world-wide hike”. Pierre Poutine travels to everyday places – such as the beach, the ski slopes and the zoo. The book features 12 detailed 2-page illustrated spreads of the different locations. Somewhere amid the crowded scene is Pierre and readers are asked to scour the detailed illustrations to locate the lost traveler. Each scene is accompanied by a postcard to the reader from Pierre, who introduces the scene and comments on his travels. 

  7.  ANOTHER Grewal tape editing moment. Probably same people…

    • Well the CPC can always try claim it was the same one who doctored the Cadman tape.

  8. Gotta love the CPC press release.

    I think that’s part of what I find so infuriating about them and many of their supporters. It’s like hearing a crash in the living room and walking in to find a vase broken, a soccer ball rolling across the floor, the kid sitting on the couch going “I dunno what happened” and claiming it’s unfair when you punish him for it because you didn’t actually see him perform the act.

    • Actually, the press release is more like after saying to the kid, “Did you break the vase with your soccer ball?” him replying, “All the kids have soccer balls and soccer balls are not illegal, and I put the garbage out.”

      They must think we Canadians are just an extension of Question Period.  You know, Never-Answer-the-Question, Period.

  9. We now know why the NDP leadership vote was so easily hijacked?   They are technologically illiterate.

  10. Sure, they found that all evidence led to the Conservative Party and they have began to ask for documents from the Conservative Party at the Conservative Party headquarters and that the information used in this illegal voter suppression came from the Conservative Party.

    Not under investigation though…

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