Catching up with false robocalls rising in 2011 Canadian federal election ..

Feb 26th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

Michael Sona with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in undated photo released by the Prime Minister's Office. Sona is the Conservative staffer who has resigned “amid 'robocalls' probe.” But was he the only member of his party involved or in some way responsible? The Liberals and New Democrats don’t think so! And neither do some high-profile journalists.

Sunday, February 26, 2010, at the edge of a great lake in the northern North American wilderness. Waiting for Oscar, looking in on the NDP federal leadership debate in Winnipeg (thank you CPAC) … and, despite my better judgment, finally starting to wonder about the May 2, 2011 robocalls election scandal (or whatever it is) in not-so-pure-as-the-driven-snow Canada.

My own first reaction when this subject was first raised at a counterweights editorial board meeting this past week was ho hum … what else is new? And how much of this will anyone remember on October 19, 2015 — the fixed date for the next Canadian federal election?

I think that is still my ultimate reaction, when I dwell on the thing. But today I have also started to be more impressed by the sheer volume and tenor of the current media coverage. Here is a quick and dirty chronology of the past week, that I have just sat down and assembled (in between listening to Mr. Mulcair tell the lovely Ms. Ashton what he would do to boost NDP propsects in Western Canada):

The NDP’s Pat Martin, Winnipeg Centre, says he is aware of at least 34 ridings that received automated phone calls, although his party lists only 29. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld.

FEB 21 … Elections Canada investigating `robocalls’ that misled voters

FEB 22 … Transcription of fake Elections Canada voice blast to select voters in riding of Guelph

FEB 23 … Harper denies Conservative link to fraudulent election ‘robocalls’

FEB 24 … Conservative staffer resigns amid ‘robocalls’ probe

FEB 24 … Ibbitson: Does anything-you-can-get-away-with mentality foster Tory cheaters?

FEB 24 … Coyne: Crank-call scandal fits the Conservatives’ pattern of political expediency

FEB 24 … Canada’s Watergate: opposition … PM says Tories not behind fake automated calls to voters

FEB 25 … Staffer linked to election robocall scandal leaves post: Reports

FEB 25 … Rae claims ‘robocalls’ contributed to Liberal candidates’ defeat … Former NDP MP is asking Elections Canada to investigate suspicious activity

FEB 25 … Canada entering a ‘Nixonian moment’ after alleged voter suppression: Rae

FEB 26 … Tricks no ’24-hour wonder’ … Liberals, NDP to keep campaign shenanigans in spotlight

FEB 26 … Opposition claims number of ridings impacted by false robocalls rising … New Democrat MP Pat Martin says he is aware of at least 34 ridings that received automated phone calls , although his party lists only 29 … Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Bob Rae said his party is aware of 27 ridings, but he expects the number to rise by Monday, when the [Canadian] House of Commons resumes.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae speaks to the media in Toronto on Saturday at a press conference over alleged robocalls to Liberal supporters in last year’s election. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press.

So … stay tuned. Who knows? This may be the beginning of some kind of turning-the-tables on the “adscam … sponsorship scandal” that did so much to put the Harper Conservatives into office in 2006. For the moment I remain a professional sceptic myself. But I have been especially impressed by the definitely conservative John Ibbitson’s argument that “it is certainly true the Tories push their campaign tactics to the edge of legality and sometimes beyond … And they may have instilled such an intensely partisan anything-you-can-get-away-with mentality among their campaign workers that one or more of them concluded it would be okay to cross the line of legality … This is a mirror into which Stephen Harper and everyone who works for him should be looking.” (And by the parallel musings of the less definitely conservative Andrew Coyne.)

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  1. bobby or is it booby rae to the rescue. I think not!
    This has been so blown up by rae!

    How about those ghost candidates the ndp had in the last election. They are getting fat cheques now aren’t but that is all okay isn’t it. It is an embarrassment – that’s what it is but the press in this country don’t care about the real stories and they actually don’t report facts.

  2. Then why is the definitely conservative John Ibbitson saying “This is a mirror into which Stephen Harper and everyone who works for him should be looking.” To a lot of us the so-called adscam or sponsorship scandal was so blown up by Harper! And at least it was trying to keep the country together.

  3. On the Yahoo Canada site today 64% of more than 20,000 respondents are answering “Yes, our democracy was undermined” to the question “Is the ‘robocall’ controversy a major political scandal?” Only 36% are saying “No, it’s being blown out of proportion.”

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