03.09.2012 09:11 AM

About that Manning Centre vote suppression chit-chat

John Fryer and the BC paper that broke the news about the now-infamous vote suppression discussion at a Manning Centre campaign school have clarified that Campaign Research’s operatives didn’t condone the practice. They continue to say, however, that vote suppression tactics were mooted by unnamed others at the Manning Centre conference.

I’ve spoken with one person who was at that event. He/she couldn’t recall vote suppression being discussed in the sessions he/she attended. But he/she didn’t dispute the notion that others enthusiastically did so. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” said this person.

To wit, what is now being reported:

During Fryer’s first day of the training, Ciano and Kouvalis led a session about the mechanics of winning elections, Freyer said. Voter identification was at the core of this conversation. A key task to win an election, according to Ciano and Kouvalis, is to identify your supporters, nurture them, and ensure they get out the vote. Attendees were told about staying in touch with your voters, and informed of the services that Campaign Research offers.

Fryer recalled that in the training, instructors stressed the importance of identifying and keeping track of non-supporters. The key to victory, they said, was ensuring more of your supporters turn out to vote than theirs.

In the question and answer period that following this session, some attendees discussed using robo-calling services to contact non-supporters. Ciano, Fryer explained, gave detailed explanation of how robo-calls work, as well as techniques for recording messages, and the costs involved. He then discussed the merits of robo-calling: in addition to being inexpensive, they give the campaign manager total control of the message. Campaign Research could even write your script if you didn’t want to do it yourself.

The conversation that followed was deeply disturbing to Fryer. In a question and answer session, some attendees discussed voter suppression tactics. Attendees talked about posing as a member of another party, and about making rude calls at inconvenient times as a strategy to get the supporter of another party to not go out and vote for their candidate. Neither Ciano, Kouvalis or Campaign Research were part of these discussions, according to Fryer’s recollections.

According to Fryer, “the mood of the meeting was that this is war and that anything goes.”

He does not recall that attitude being condoned by Ciano, Kouvalis or Campaign Research.

8 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Laxton says:

    Is not condemning it a tacit endorsement?

    • catherine says:

      I think not condemning is not condemning it.

      Personally if I ran a workshop and anyone made a leap from something I discussed in the workshop to something unethical/illegal, I would jump at the chance to condemn it and probably someone would have to tie me down and gag me to get me not to say anything. But, hey, that’s just me.

  2. Sam Gunsch says:

    Mr. A Coyne said “…the presumption of innocence does not require us to be deaf, blind and stupid.”

    1. So, another news article today has a citizen report of alleged voter suppression techniques which overlap the news report of Manning Centre conference’s how-to discussion. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/york-centre-joins-list-of-ridings-reporting-misleading-robo-calls/article2363895

    2. Fryer’s account of Manning Centre conference discussion *not* retracted from news report relying on Fryer, though Fryer clarifies/apologizes by excluding 2 pro’s+firm.

    3. Voter suppression re impersonating opposition is illegal during election says Elections Canada CEO. (link below)

    Q: Will Manning Centre conference organizers be contacted by EC investigation of alleged voter suppression/electoral fraud?

    reference: Former CEO specifically addresses contraventions as per reported Manning Centre conference discussion. Listen 1:40m of interview, Kingsley’s own words

    http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Politics/1244504890/ID=2203713521

  3. smelter rat says:

    If even half of what you say is true, we’re in deep doodoo

  4. Michael MacDonald says:

    the form of voter suppression that Harper used (calling people posing as the opposition in order to turn them off of voting & giving people fake addresses to polling stations)
    is in fact electoral fraud.

    There’s no way around it.

    It’s actually one of the worst forms of voter suppression there is.

    These reports only scratched the surface to.

    We can’t do anything about the fake online profiles that are used to perform voter suppression and let me tell you.. during the last election
    there were thousands of these profiles.
    I witnessed them myself.

    Whether Harper gets away with it or not has nothing to do with whether what he did was wrong or not.

    He probably is going to get away with this
    and all this signals is not innocence,
    but that we need to be really ashamed for our country right now.

    I hate to say it,
    but this is the worst we’ve ever been when it comes to disrespect for democracy.
    Conservative voters should really rethink who they vote for in the next election,
    because this is absolutely despicable behavior and if you respect the democratic process at all
    you could not continue to vote for this guy.
    After all, respect for the democratic process should not be bi-partisan.
    We should all be able to agree to that.

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