03.01.2012 01:43 PM

The view from afar

I don’t know a lot, but I think I know a little bit about how Prime Ministers think.  So, when the Wall Street Journal writes that “members of the ruling Conservative Party attempted to suppress opposing votes in the May 2011 election,” important people notice.  And not just in Canada, either.

In places like the White House, that story is being read, and Stephen Harper is increasingly being measured in an entirely new (and, for him, entirely unwanted) way.

“Did you get there, Steve,” they ask themselves, “by cheating?”



  1. Cath says:

    Very much off-topic WK but I thought of your record-breaking KD issue post from many years ago when I saw this notice for a KD eating contest sponsored by a local radio station. Goderich IS Hockeyville!

  2. Mark Dewdney says:

    Yeah, and a lot of them are looking at him with a new-found appreciation, since they themselves got there in that manner.
    (and I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say “a lot of them” or even “most of them”. Find me a campaign with ZERO shenanigans.)

  3. james Smith says:

    I’m curious if the Dear Leader had the same questions asked by the same folks when he was found in contempt of Parliament. Perhaps he & BiBi can swap tips over dinner tonight.

  4. Philippe says:

    The Cons have lost control of this thing, and rightly so. This crosses part boundaries. If my own favored party had pulled this, I would be just as outraged.

    The media need to start calling this for what it is – election fraud, not dirty tricks. Criminal behavior. Let’s see the Cons get “tough on crime” now.

  5. Ted B says:

    They will survive this. Because there is nothing that can change a majority government from doing what it wants until the next election. Just look at all the scandals and scandalettes and inventions of scandals a warhorse like Chretien and Mulroney survived so long as they had a majority. Heck, Sir John A got re-elected after a similar election scam.


    They add up. There is now an inescapable stench around the Conservative Party and Harper himself. Possible charges on the way here. One conviction against the party already. A contempt motion. Their own chosen Speaker of the House calling their dirty tricks against Irwin Cotler reprehensible. Prorogations to avoid accountability. The Clement slush fund which was diverted from border security through lies in Parliament. Firing scientists and civil servants whose research and work doesn’t support them, even when it protects the public. The list is already very long after only a few years in government.

    That does 2 things:

    1. It lowers the bar for the opposition. They no longer have to be an ideal replacement to get considered or clearly a better option.

    2. It raises the bar for the government. The public will no longer let them do things that they have done with impunity before. It all adds to the narrative now. Even when they do normal political dirty tricks/attack stuff, it will now always be linked to a greater narrative about the Cons and dirty tricks and breaking the law.

    • Lance says:

      “They no longer have to be an ideal replacement to get considered or clearly a better option.”
      And yet that doesn’t pose a problem for the Opposition? Just exist and hope the Tories screw up? Wow.

      • Ted says:

        Is that what I wrote? No.

        Is that what meant? No.

        Is that what I implied? No.

        Like giving Harper a chance when we were so fed up with the Liberals in 2006, all we wanted from him to tip the scales was a little demonstration of bare minimum competence. Harper did that with a well run campaign and he was in, despite Canadians agreeing and siding far more with the Liberal policy platform.

        If the Liberals do nothing but wait for the Conservatives to screw up, it won’t work out well for them. Harper has been screwing up aplenty, shown downright graft and corruption and abuse of process. And just existing hasn’t been enough.

        But every year Harper is making it easier.

    • Geoffrey Laxton says:

      Perhaps Canadians need to see some top Con operative taken away in handcuffs before they wake up.

  6. Philip says:

    I have to wonder how this is all going affect the budget at the end of March?

  7. billg says:

    I think the public is numb to the lies and cheating as part of the political game, we re-elect them again and again. If proven, maybe this will be the tipping point, but, I doubt it. Jobs and a good economy make voters look the other way, and, make the lives of oppostion MP’s very difficult.

  8. Ted B says:

    Let’s not lose sight of all that the Conservatives will try to do here.

    They are throwing up smokescreens with “Vikileaks”, wanting an open public hearing into the nefarious publication of public documents, but won’t hold a public hearing into election fraud.

    They are already calling this a desperate smear attack by the Liberals even though it emanates from Elections Canada and an RCMP investigation.

    I’m concerned about the thing no one has mentioned yet: there was already discussion of replacing the head of Elections Canada at the end of his term which is now (I think). Even though he was a Harper appointtee, he has been dogged in chasing Harper election misdeeds. For the last 2 years, Harper has gotten bolder and bolder with his partisan appointments to chums and loyalty trumps competence.

    Expect a hardcore partisan to be appointed who will clean house in the name of austerity.

  9. kre8tv says:

    For me, the outcome of the last election is not in doubt as a result of these serious allegations. The government’s not going to fall if the allegations were to turn out to be true. If it were at risk, I’d likely be more apprehensive of the motive behind the accusations being made by the Opposition parties. So let’s dispose of this absurd argument that this is the work of sore losers. What’s really at stake here is something that should worry Conservatives as much as it does others. Because at very least, it suggests that there are people involved in campaigns who have the money, the capacity and the willingness to knowingly break the law and completely undermine our democratic traditions…all with without the knowledge of party organizers. That’s serious. And that’s why the PM’s take on this is a disgrace. He’s not just the head of a party. He’s the Prime Minister of Canada and has a responsibility that runs much deeper than protecting the brand of a party.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      This is a scary idea, but it would never happen that the Cons will concern themselves with it.

      Paul Martin called the Gomery inquiry on the (naive) premise that a) he has nothing to hide (he had nothing to hide); b) his predecessor did (he had little to hide too, not even his balls); c) that sunshine is the best disinfectant (except in political scandals the last man left standing holds the blame); d) and it was the “right” thing to do (he was naive – Chretien would never have called the inquiry (he said so in his book, having learned from the Somalia inquiry (called for the same reasons Martin called The Gomery inquiry)).

      Rogue forces in the election campaigns? The government should investigate, regulate, legislate.

      It won’t. It can’t. Hard to see the forest through the trees from a bunker.

  10. Ted B says:

    Folks, this is why we need to forget about the harrassing phone calls dirty tricks by the Harperites.

    1. Those kind of Harper dirty tricks are annoying but not illegal.

    2. Elections Canada has said they won’t be investigating those dirty tricks and there is no ongoing criminal investigation into them so it muddies the water between election fraud and some of the uglier parts of partisan fighting.

    3. No party is clean when it comes to harassment of constituents. And, as the article shows, the multimillion Conservative Death Star war machine will dig up every single ugly harassment story and bit of data done by the Liberals over the decades in a conscious effort to muddy the waters and say ‘see, the Liberals are even worse’.

    Election fraud appears pretty clearly to have been consciously attempted here to the benefit of the Conservative Party of Canada in close ridings. That and only that should be the focus.

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      @ Ted B
      re G & M report you linked to… about Con’s saying Lib’s used the calling firms responsible of calls in Volpe’s riding.

      I see some are judging it as an attempted Conservative diversionary tactic or some kind push-back…that doesn’t fit with previous reporting.

      Have you seen these?

      Some tweets from:
      kady o’malley ‏ @kady

      I think it was supposed to be the Big Reveal that it was the Liberals to blame all along.

      Bonnie Nicol Bonnie Nicol ‏ @bonnie_nic
      @kady Well the G&M fell for it and that’s what they wanted. Sorry Mr. Chase but you should have fact checked…

      and some explanation here:

      of what apparently so far appears to be an attempt at muddying the waters.


      If this turns out to be what it looks like, does this qualify as a new signal of desperation?

      Is this a dirty trick?

      … and just for giggle, I share below some ridicule settling on today’s Conservative fill in the blank _______ re media guidance, dirty tricks, etc?

      Susan Delacourt ‏ @SusanDelacourt
      There was a Star Trek movie called First Contact too. Which can only mean one thing: the #robocalls critics are aliens. #cdnpoli

      kady o’malley ‏ @kady
      Googling is HARD. @SusanDelacourt: Is this serious? There are *two* First Contact firms and #CPC held a full briefing without knowing that?

      Susan Delacourt Susan Delacourt ‏ @SusanDelacourt

      @kady Wow. I think my Underbus Consulting firm may be getting another ex-researcher.
      1:56 PM – 1 Mar 12 via Tw

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      @ Ted B… annoying but not legal…re harassing phone calls

      Not legal… according to former CEO of Elections Canada.

      see here at 1:40m of this 5:29m video — on impersonating/harassing calls…
      re: Former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley discusses allegations of fraudulent and misleading calls during the last federal election.


      Unless I misunderstand what he said, the impersonating phone calls are subject to the same penalties as telling people the wrong poll location.

      BTW this interview is a relatively tight summary on lots of key issues… IMO

      Sam Gunsch

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      Ok… Conservatives busted today on US calls from Liberals!

      … DDM apologizes sort of…

      I didn’t see it but:

      Susan Delacourt ‏ @SusanDelacourt

      Okay, Frank Valeriote and @evansolomoncbc seem to have obtained a sort-of-apology from Mr. Del Mastro on @PnP_CBC. #cdnpoli #crikey

  11. Lance says:

    From what I got from QP, unless I am mistaken, today it was brought up that apparently there was some voter supression effort of this nature in Calgary Centre as well. Why would the Tories try to supress votes in a riding that they’ve won overwhelmingly as a party (in one form or another) for the last FORTY years? Come on now.

    • Attack! says:

      You’re demonstrating the answer: so they can hold it up to say, see, that would be absurd, because so unnecessary, so therefore it wasn’t us doing it at all. Sacrificing a few of their own votes for this im/plausible deniability was just priming the well.

    • W.B. says:

      Because the purpose is not to really win one riding or another, it is to create cynicism about democracy itself and put the entire system is disrepute. I’m amazed I have to explain this, but then, the controlled and manipulated Conservative base can be used to win more and more seats in elections to come. Mix in character destroying attack ads against the opposition, control of the civil service and media, show trials like Linda Keen, and this Liberal guy next week, packing courts and tribunals with partisans, and on and on.

    • kre8tv says:

      An attempt by *any* party to knowingly suppress or hinder the ability of any citizen to vote is a serious criminal offence. I don’t care whether it happens in a safe seat or a bell weather riding. It’s wrong and it’s corrosive. No one should be shrugging their shoulders or grasping for the moral equivalency argument as witnessed in QP today.

  12. Sean says:

    If 11 of the fraudulent Tory seats are thrown into by elections, we have a minority parliament.

  13. Attack! says:

    yeah, who tapes live calls, esp. if there’s no reason to think them suspicious to start with; who has that technology (my answering machine gives feedback); & wouldn’t it be illegal, anyway? Tulk’s ‘no tape, no proof, no matter’ talking point makes me wanna puke, as does this whole affair.

    • Neil says:

      Yeah Gord, J.A. said he would be willing to testify to it in court, god forbid anyone ever get convicted by sworn testimony!! That would be an outrage!

    • David Bailey says:

      It’s not illegal Attack! If you are a third party and record it, ya, that’s illegal but if you are recording it yourself, no, it’s not illegal.

  14. john says:

    any idea when and if a poll will come out to see if this has had any impact on people’s minds?

  15. jack says:

    It seems to me that as this story speads to Thuder Bay, Calgary, etc and people ask why the Cons did this in strongly held ridings, one answer is that a database was used in its entirety or parts of a complete datbase were used erroneously. It seems that a pretty large database must have been in use. So who got those names and who paid for them and the robo and live calls? If a robocall company was given a database and just connected that to their servers, it would call any ridings in the database that were not checked off to not be called. There may be many more explanations also but it is certainly starting to look like this spreads beyond one riding.

    Follow the money, follow the database. Those are the two best places to start.

    • Cam says:

      Me thinks we are forgetting Elections Canada conducts its investigations quietly and that this only came about at this time because a couple of reporters got their hands on court documents for a search warrant. How many other search warrants do you think there are out there and how many different investigations are underway?

      Interestingly I read that Elections Canada’s budget can be increased as needed to meet its needs. So can anyone confirm that in the case of investigations the legislation authorizes Elections Canada to increase expenditures to conduct theses investigations?

  16. Dan says:

    I’m amazed it took this long for the story to get out. Back in the 1990s, I knew conservative youths whose job was to stand 2 minutes from polling stations, giving misdirections to anyone who wasn’t white. Of course, this wasn’t condoned by the conservative campaigns, who had no knowledge, etc, etc, etc, etc. Conservatives just know to do anything to win, and have copied what works for decades.

  17. Bill says:

    You libs have completely lost it. I have never read so much unproven crap.
    Bullshit baffles the brain type of stuff. You guy’s are way ahead of yourselves, lets see some
    proof before jumping to conclusions. Libs are susceptible of “the pig that cried wolf” one to many times.

    • james Smith says:

      Did you get that directly from the Dear Leader, or did you wait until you heard him attempt to shine that turd?
      BTW I think you’ve mangled your metaphors – one story is THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF & the THREE LITTLE PIGS is another story. But go ahead, by all means keep your faith in the Dear Leader, but don’t be surprised most reasonable Canadians start to think of him as an example of The Scorpion and the Frog.

    • Ted B says:

      Are you saying the audio Warren posted earlier is a fake?

      Are you saying the confessions of the call centre staff were made up by the media?

      Are you saying the Conservatives fired a staffer for no reason?

      Are you saying same staffer did not say there was “fraudulent” activity and the “real guilty parties” should come forward?

      Are you saying Elections Canada is lying about an ongoing investigation?

      Are you saying the RCMP is, in fact, not investigating and, in fact, did not issue subpoenas?

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      Bill, the demand for “proof” is an unnecessary standard in politics and the court of public opinion. The Conservatives already admitted something was amiss when they threw a staffer under the bus. We already know the Senate has at least 2 organizers who are not above illegally orchestrating spending shenanigans to win elections. We know that the culture that the party is to win at any cost has lead to it being charged and convicted, in court, on an admission of wrong-doing. The Cons have already admitted to calling voters to redirect them to wrong polling stations.

      If proof is what you want, call your leaders and the other robots in the Con caucus to provide sufficient resources to Elections Canada, like it asked. Let’s get this looked at instead of BS answers like “the vote count went up so there cannot be suppression”, like the vote count counts as proof that opposition supporters were not suppressed.

      Get real. We can jump to conclusions because there is sufficient proof to do that. We see that a culture of election winning at any costs is rooted in the CPC, it was the CPC which benefited from robo calling, and, well, they have the money and organization and phone numbers to pull this off.

      I’ve drawn a conclusion, as had the CPC when it fired that ballot box-stealing stunt puller. We are just doing the same thing the CPC did but it has since thought better of it. Right-minded skeptics have not changed their minds.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      Oh Im sure the definitive proof will come…..it just remains to be seen who’ll take the next bullet for the party……Mr. Sona already being offered up as the sacrificial lamb…….
      As for crying wolf…….http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/02/29/Tories-Dirty-Tricks/

    • Derek Pearce says:

      Hey btw WK what do you have to say about Breitbart’s death in California? I do indeed feel bad for his family, and of course he died too young. But his obituaries will be as partisan as he would’ve wanted them to be. That is merely an observation, and enough said.

      • Derek Pearce says:

        Oops, didn’t mean that to be a reply but rather a separate post. Sorry ’bout that.

      • Conservative Socialist says:

        I know of Andrew Breitbart through the articles that got hotlinked from Drudge. And he certainly was controversial.

        Yes, a lot of leftist partisans hated him and are expressing that sentiment, even in his passing.

        I’m certain that Andrew would enjoy the vitriol being thrown at him after he died. He probably appreciates all the passion he elicits.

        Sometimes it’s better to be hated than to be ignored.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      Apropos of nothing and not commenting on porcine features at all (who said anything about porcine?), but if we are talking about pigs crying wolf, Del Mastro’s performance in the House of Commons and his NOT taking up Frank Valeriote’s offer to repeat the hootin’ and hollerin’ allegations he made IN THE HOUSE outside the House was a gem.

      The Cons are losing their way. They are losing the narrative, if they had it at all, doing extremely shoddy research and putting up the unbelievable Dean “Trudeau Ain’t a Good Enough Catholic for Me” Del Mastro.

      • Bill says:

        You have me on the “pigs crying wolf”, send that alittle fast, not sure what I was thinking.

        My point is, where is the proof that elected officials are involved? What are their names?

        Trudeau is a goof ball, it has nothing to do with him being a good or bad Catholic.

  18. Iris Mclean says:

    It’s looking like Harper is Canada’s Vladimir Putin.

  19. Tim Sullivan says:

    The Economist is watching, too.


  20. Conservative Socialist says:

    There is much to dislike this government in regards to it’s overreach with the Lawful Access bill. As far as this robocall scandal goes, I think that cooler heads need to prevail and let the facts come out.

    If the Conservatives are innocent, then they should demand a complete, transparent and open investigation to clear their names. If that’s the case, then such an investigation might possibly reveal that these robocalls were staged by leftist partisans in the hopes that they could be used to smear the Conservatives.

    I’m skeptical that the robocall scandal is as big as it is because it’s so high risk and low reward. Why place robocalls in a riding (Guelph) where the Conservative candidate has absolutely no chance of winning? I heard the audio purporting to come from “Elections Canada”, and I’d really like to know where that call came from.

    Let those people who claim they were robocalled have their phone records investigated to see where the calls came from. Whether it’s a case of vote tampering or just a case where scripts being played by robocalls that had unintentionally given incorrect information because of human error.

  21. Blackhawksfan says:

    Wow. I know I’m late to the party with regards to this particular headline but Warren appears to be veering into pretty murky waters. Warren’s quotation is a partial sentence. Is anyone else wondering what’s missing? Unless the claim is repeated elsewhere in the article, let’s take a look at what appears to be the full quote from the Wall Street Journal:

    “Now this call, and potentially hundreds like it, is at the center of allegations by Canada’s opposition parties that the members of the ruling Conservative Party attempted to suppress opposing votes in the May 2011 election, in part by attempting to send some voters to the wrong polling stations.”

    In other words, this doesn’t appear to be the view from afar, this appears to be the view from the Liberal and NDP parties.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

      If the Conservatives are guilty, then those who allege robocalls gave them misleading information can get their phone records analyzed to see where the actual calls came from.

      If they’re innocent, then the same phone records can be used to exonerate them.

      In a democracy, it’s sort of a tradition for opposition parties to cry moral indignation regarding the corruption and abuse of power by the governing party.

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