03.13.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun: not so fast, Robocon Cons


Lacking anything in the way of substantive argument in the blossoming Robocon scandal, some conservative partisans and media cynics have taken to denigrating popular opposition to the Conservative Party’s alleged election fraud.

Thus, a Sunday rally on Parliament Hill that attracted only a few dozen people was summarily dismissed by a Windsor Star headline: “Robocall protests fizzle.”
On the same day, 75 people attended a Winnipeg protest, which CJOB headlined as “sparse attendance.”

More than two dozen protests took place across the country, in Halifax, St. John’s, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Some attracted hundreds, some just a few dozen. My colleague Michael Coren, who has mocked the protests, wrote: “The verdict? Nobody cares. We have better things to do.”

That, in the main, has been the Harper regime’s main communications strategy in the Robocon disgrace: No one cares. And that may well be true. But passing judgment in the early days of Robocon, as Coren and others have done, isn’t risk-free. They may just end up being proven wrong.

Polls, not rally attendance, are usually a better way of assessing public opinion. And a poll released on the same day the nationwide protests took place — by Ipsos, the leading public opinion research firm in Canada — found that an astonishing three-quarters of Canadians are clamouring for a public inquiry into the scandal.

59 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Laxton says:

    Republican Interference? ~ The View from the Front Porch Looking North ~ This is Not just Voter Engagement
    http://donaskimleaman.blogspot.com/2012/03/view-from-front-porch-looking-north.html

  2. catherine says:

    Way too early to dismiss this. Not very impressive how the CPC handled the latest releases. As heat was mounting on Prescott due to his Racknine expenses not being reported and his early tweets about voter suppressing robocalls spoofing his number, neither of which he has given any plausible explanation for, Meier claims to have his “eureka” moment identifying a home IP address, reported with what appears to be great enthusiasm by Stephen Taylor.

    The National Post reported Sona saying “I have remained silent to this point with the hope that the real guilty party would be apprehended,” and his mother talking about a “set up” and “It’s interesting that Matt Meier found the code when he’s working for the Conservative party.” http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/03/11/pierre-poutine-robocalls-3/

    And now the CTV reports:

    A senior Conservative says that local campaign staff in Guelph, Ont., claimed to have identified the real identity of Poutine.
    The senior Tory was told that staff members had identified Poutine after Michael Sona, 23, allegedly owned up to the scheme.
    But a source close to Sona denied the allegations, saying that “Conservative Party headquarters is trying to pin it on him.”
    The source also said Sona was in church on the day some of the Pierre Poutine calls were made.
    Sona, who worked on the Guelph campaign during the last federal election, has previously denied having anything to do with the robocalls, which falsely claimed to come from Elections Canada and directed voters to the wrong polling locations.
    Conservative insiders insist they are not forcing Sona to take the fall.

    http://m.ctv.ca/topstories/20120312/pierre-poutine-identity-still-unknown-120312.html

    To me this all makes Prescott look even more suspicious, when it likely was meant to make him look less suspicious. Not that I think Prescott was the leader as a campaign manager would not usually have that kind of Canada wide data from the party.

    • Graham says:

      And the fact the National post is reporting Elections Canada now says the indetity of “pierre poutine” may not be known for YEARS, given their history of battles with the Conservatives, make me suspect Poutine has ties to the Liberals or NDP.

      If it was a Conservative, EC would be running to the CBC or Ottawa Citizen with the name in a heart beat.

      • Graham says:

        Correction:

        Elections Canada said the identity of Poutine may not be RELEASED for years.

        • catherine says:

          Well wouldn’t that be something!! A senior Conservative saying the Conservatives identified Conservative staffer Sona, Sona’s sources saying he is being made a scapegoat by the Conservatives, and all the while it was the Liberals and NDP.

          However, the Conservatives fingering each other through “sources” all while each of them is saying their lawyers are telling them not to speak, and Prescott’s missing Racknine expense claims and too-fast-out-of-the-gate tweets that he hasn’t plausibly explained, not to mention who benefits from a bunch of Liberals and NDP not voting, makes that completely implausible.

      • GPAlta says:

        Unless I’m mistaken, it has always been only the conservatives involved who have been leaking information to the media. Elections Canada didn’t even say that there was an investigation until much of this had come out.

  3. Gary says:

    Once again, the CPC appeals to the lowest common denominator, the uninformed, and apathetic, just like no one cared about ‘administrative’ issues such as the ‘In & Out’ scandal, or ‘procedural’ issues such as being found in contempt of Parliament, this time, no one cares about the legality of election results, otherwise, the democratic process itself.

  4. Anne Peterson says:

    If I had been anywhere near a protest I would have joined in. I think a Royal Commission is indicated. This is an important issue, protecting our democracy and our vote. Important enough to spend the money required for a Royal Commission. I mention the money because I know it’s an argument the cons will use for not doing it. Royal Commission because, I think, it cannot be tampered with or set up to be biased. Is this true? Shows you how much faith I have in the conservative government. I don’t think there’s anything they wouldn’t do to retain power. It’s like trapping rats in a cellar. You have to be vigilant every minute to keep them there.

  5. Dennis Hollingsworth says:

    Most definitely a Public Inquiry and / or Bob Rae’s proposed Royal Commission.
    In my opinion, we have by now been pretty much exposed to Steve Harper’s FULL repertoire of BS excuses, lies & scenarios. While his minions like to repeatedly remind us that Steve is some sort of master tactician, we better know Steve to be just as plain JANE as that funny little old man behind the curtain in the WIZ.
    Regardless of his Poker-Face Personae currently displayed, I believe Steve has run out of TRICKS and continues ONLY by virtue of some Suspended Animation Vapour Trace Phenom. His Caucus continue to look oh so GLUM & MOROSE.
    As Warren suggested a few weeks back, Steve may have had the May 2011 Election in the bag, without even having to execute the THIRD FORCE element (yet to be fully defined) … except for the fact HARPER HAS LESS CHARISMA THAN A CARDBOARD BOX.
    HE SHOULD HAVE HAD IT IN THE BAG, CONSIDERING IT HAD BEEN PRE-BOUGHT & PAID FOR IN WITH ALL THE EXTRA CASH & MEDIA BIAS … yet Steve still found a way to flock it up.
    Steve’s money backers may NOW have grown weary of Steve’s Tired Act and decide to cut their losses, by cutting Harper loose.

  6. Bryan Peeler says:

    Not sure if this means anything but while CJOB (which runs right wing talk shows) reported 75, CBC Winnipeg reported 300.

  7. Anne Peterson says:

    How could this scam not have been centrally planned. In order to phone and impersonate persons from Elections Canada and direct people to the wrong poll someone had to be very familiar with the communities targeted. Someone had to know a credible place to send people. Some little guy somewhere wouldn’t have that knowedge without it being fed to him by someone in the community.

    If someone phoned me and tried to redirect me to some place in Manitoba it wouldn’t work, would it? It would have to be some credible sounding place in my own community.

  8. Graham says:

    Headline from the Toronto Sun: Rely on Polls, not protest attendance.

    With due respect Mr. Kinsella, you of all people should know, having spent the amount of time you have in political backrooms, polls are made to say whatever the person or company paying for them want them to say.

    As connected as you are to the politcial scene, you should also know that the polling companies themselves are speaking out against tactics and methodologies currently being used in the industry. For the last few elections at all levels of government, the polls have been so wrong, it’s not even funny. Examples:

    Toronto Mayoral election:
    Polling on the last weekend showed Ford and Smitherman statistically tied around 34%. Election day result: Ford 47%, Smitherman 35%.

    Calgary Mayoral election:
    Pre election day polling showed Nenshi in third place at 18%. Nenshi won the election with, I believe, 43%.

    Ontario provincial election:
    Pre election polling showed the PC’s within majority territory. In election polling showed the Liberals in majority territory. Liberal won a minority.

    Federal election:
    The Conservatives polled as high as 38% (Ipsos, whom I believe you have called the “Gold Standard” of polling companies in the past) and as low as 33.9% (EKOS, whos president Frank Graves is in the back pocket of the Liberal Party of Canada). All polls but one called a Conseravative minority. EKOS even had them down to 138 seats.

    Compass, had the Conservatives at 46% support.

    As for an example of polling companies providing the results the people paying for them want, you need look no further than a poll last year by Forum Research regarding Mayor Rob Ford’s “plummeting” support from over 60% down to 33%.

    When you actually did some reading, you saw the poll was paid for by CUPE Local 79. CUPE Local 79 is one of the largest unions dealing with the City of Toronto, and they were heading into contract negotiations with the City. Their President had called Rob Ford “the worst person I have ever dealt with”.

    Also look at the last federal election. A company (can’t remember which) released a poll of “key ridings” in Ontario. In all the ones in the GTA, it showed the NDP in front. The Liberals, PAID the SAME company to ask the SAME questions in those SAME ridings in the GTA. The result? The Liberals were ahead in all of them.

  9. patrick deberg says:

    Gord you seem to be forgetting something. This will not go away. You’re constant nothing to see here seems to indicate that you have gone to ‘ torque the tory vote” school. You seem to have a direct feed into the tory talking points. Did you attend the manning school of misdirection this last weekend? Are you being paid as a “communications consultant?” Come clean,I won’t think less of you! One of the reason less people don’t show up Gord is when they do you let the thugs off the leash to club a few, gas a few or just write about them as OWS and the dirty hippy meme. Remember the G20? We already know what was done was widespread and illegal and reaches right to the PMO. After all it’s no longer the government of the Canadian people it’s the Harper government isn’t it? The solidarity people in Poland learned to take on the fascists there because after getting clubbed and beaten they staged protests inside places not so accessible. They used different tactics and in the end defeated the communists. We will do the same here in Canada. I am too old to be clubbed to prove a point so I don’t attend these things. For ten years us on the left told you not to get caught up in Afghanistan But you folks didn’t listen. Year after year we told you what would happen and you called us every name under the sun. Look at what you have now. I say it’s time to call back our troops and let them fight for democracy here in Canada. Before it’s too late.

  10. james Smith says:

    Keep whistling past the graveyard

    • !o! says:

      That’s a great analogy….

      Walking to work. Yup walking to work, happy day, graveyard ahead. Everything is happy. Not afraid of the graveyard, NOT afraid of the graveyard. Lets whistle a happy tune, Everything is great. Just dandy, no problems. Whistling. Gotta whistle louder, because I’m not afraid of the graveyard.

  11. Kevin T. says:

    Ooooh, shiny!

  12. dave says:

    Side issue on all this – don’t politicians blush?

  13. Philip says:

    Royal Commission now. Election fraud is election fraud.

  14. catherine says:

    I think you have convinced everyone that we really need a Royal Commission to get to the bottom of all illegal robocalls and call center activities during the 2011 election. Please write to Stephen Harper and put pressure on him as he is still resisting – maybe attach a copy of that editorial to convince him.

  15. Philippe says:

    Your “Liberals did it too” bullshit is getting irsome. First off, the levels of infraction are on different planets. Second, if you were on trial for murder, would you tell the judge “the victim was also a murderer so it makes it ok”? Your line of defense to excuse your party’s criminal behavior is sickening.

  16. Attack! says:

    Only if robocalls are officially adjudged to qualify as election “advertising.”

    But the verdict’s still out on that; their communications director John Enright refuses to say (to the Hill Times, yesterday: http://bit.ly/yi2Q8H )

    And the Liberals dispute it, “say[ing] Elections Canada has interpreted robocalls differently in the past. In a news release, the party said the agency last spring said on its website that live or automated messages sent to specific phone numbers and email addresses don’t count as advertising.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/03/12/pol-election-calls-guelph.html

  17. Michael Bussiere says:

    It may not have come from the top, because that indeed would be stupid. But there is no question that Harper’s ‘politics as war’ culture has laid the groundwork for other, less intelligent types in the conservative movement to think this would be an acceptable tactic.

    Jacques Parizeau blamed ethnic groups, particularly Jews, Greeks, and Italians in Montreal for the 1995 referendum loss. He didn’t advocate reprisals, but he was forced to resign because that attitude by the leader may have been seen as justification for all kinds of unacceptable behaviour. If Mr. Harper were to really grow up, he would call an inquiry, recall the attack dogs and not play all of these stupid games.

    • J.A. says:

      Michael’s comment is interesting and I agree with him about why Parizeau had to resign as PQ leader. I heard him blame “money and the ethnic vote” for his loss in the referendum. Later it was discovered by doing recounts that Parizeau should have lost by a much bigger margin.
      Leadership means being responsible. Harper prefers to confuse us with a smokescreen, apparently, but he may be stalling until he can find out Who to blame…. follow the “money” ??

  18. Jason King says:

    Gord that has to be your weakest counterargument on this subject to date. Semantics? Coming from you that’s rather rich.

    • Jason King says:

      Ezra Levant ha!!!! I believe someone had an allegory about David Suzuki, Alan Eagleson and Steve Fonyo that fits in here perfectly.

  19. Michael says:

    The bar is getting higher and higher. Pretty soon, according to Gord it will be, unless John A himself did the robocalling, the political damage will be slight.

  20. Anne Peterson says:

    Gord, a little object lesson for your contemplation. George the 4th. He was not at Waterloo but he wanted to be, so he pretended that he had been and behaved as though he had been, and because he was king no one argued with him. So by the end of his life he really truly believed he had been there. And after all, what did it hurt? Well it made him a laughing stock forever. That’s what.

    You can tell yourself lies and persuade yourself they are the truth as long as everyone goes along with you. But if there are those out there who know the real truth, you are sunk. And if you are not sunk now, history will sink you.

    • Jason King says:

      “I’m trying to stick to the truth as it is known.”

      Ha ha that has to be the funniest thing Ive heard all day. Stick to the talking points rather.

    • Ted B says:

      Gord, serious question, do you ever use facts in your comments, or consider them.

      The fact is that NO riding is “formally alleged to have had these calls”. There is no such thing as “formally alleged”.

      All we actually know from Elections Canada and the RCMP is that, over the last 9 months since the election they have been investigating several complaints in several ridings. We also know that EC and the RCMP have issued subpoenas on a number of Conservative ridings – Guelph, Edmonton, Nipissing – as well as the national office to review phone records, email records.

      We actually don’t know all that much from EC and the RCMP other than that they are investigating several ridings. Oh, and there have been no EC leaks as you keep harping on.

      And that does not include the 3100 new complaints that have come in over the thousands of last few weeks or the last minute “new voters” in Joe Oliver’s riding that appear quite clearly to have voted illegally.

      We know a lot more from diligent our very own Woodward & Bernstein sleuth journalists – like an actual audio recording of the fraudulent calls, like phone traces, like a Rack Nine employee complaining to EC and the RCMP during the election about these calls, like Rack Nine preparing a 22 page technical report showing the likely residence of “Pierre Poutine” and giving it to EC, like misdirection complaints were received in some 26 ridings or so, etc.

      If I were the Liberals or NDP, I would show more calm and patience. The investigation will out the criminals – and I have no doubt there are more than one scapegoat.

      This won’t be as big as Adscam or Airbus, I don’t think, but there was criminality. Saving our real foot stomping outrage for later, after months of calm but pressing opposition, will pay off. The public is seriously concerned about this Conservative electoral fraud right now, but they aren’t yet outraged. Never pays to be too far ahead of the people who put you in office or keep you out.

    • Ted B says:

      Gord, serious question, do you ever use facts in your comments, or consider them.

      The fact is that NO riding is “formally alleged to have had these calls”. There is no such thing as “formally alleged”.

      All we actually know from Elections Canada and the RCMP is that, over the last 9 months since the election they have been investigating several complaints in several ridings. We also know that EC and the RCMP have issued subpoenas on a number of Conservative ridings – Guelph, Edmonton, Nipissing – as well as the national office to review phone records, email records, interrogations.

      We actually don’t know all that much from EC and the RCMP other than that they are investigating several ridings. Oh, and there have been no EC leaks as you keep harping on.

      And that does not include the 31000 new complaints that have come in over the last few weeks or the thousands of last minute “new voters” in Joe Oliver’s riding that appear quite clearly to have voted illegally.

      We know a lot more from diligent our very own Woodward & Bernstein sleuth journalists – like an actual audio recording of the fraudulent calls, like phone traces, like a Rack Nine employee complaining to EC and the RCMP during the election about these calls, like Rack Nine preparing a 22 page technical report showing the likely residence of “Pierre Poutine” and giving it to EC, like misdirection complaints were received in some 26 ridings or so, etc.

      If I were the Liberals or NDP, I would show more calm and patience. The investigation will out the criminals – and I have no doubt there are more than one scapegoat.

      This won’t be as big as Adscam or Airbus, I don’t think, but there was criminality. Saving our real foot stomping outrage for later, after months of calm but pressing opposition, will pay off. The public is seriously concerned about this Conservative electoral fraud right now, but they aren’t yet outraged. Never pays to be too far ahead of the people who put you in office or keep you out.

      Reply

  21. JamesHalifax says:

    I agree….if any fraud is found to have occurred….throw the book at whomever was responsible.

    That being said, clearly the Guelph riding had some dirty tricks going on…….I think we need to call a bye election in that riding. NOW!

    • Mark McLaughlin says:

      Ha, the opposition is not interested in by-elections in ALL ridings where there are dirty tricks alleged, just the ones that the Conservatives won.

      If it were about “giving citizens back their vote” or whatever such nonsense they are spouting they would have no problem with re-running Guelph. It’s the only place where there seems to be proof of wrongdoings.

      If it was a principled position they hold who won wouldn’t matter.

      • Jason King says:

        Pot meet Kettle. Im going to call my kettle a McLaughlin from now on.

      • Philip says:

        Where fraud occurs and Election Canada criteria are met under Section 524, by-elections should be automatic. Regardless of who holds the riding now. No exceptions.

        • Philip says:

          A person can pinpoint the exact moment the Conservative Party suddenly became soft on crime.

          I’m not about to re-think my standards on any time of fraud, particularly election fraud, Mr. Tulk. In cases of election fraud and where the the conditions of Section 524 are met, by-elections should be automatic. The fines should be north of $250,000 and not the laughable $5,000 they are currently. In addition, the costs of the investigation and those associated with running the by-election, including Elections Canada monitoring, should be billed to the national campaign of the party charged.

          My grandfather and other Canadians of his generation sacrificed a great deal for democracy. I don’t think it’s too much of a bother to insist that our exercise of democracy be fair, open and honest.

        • Philip says:

          Section 524 does provide for a by-election, provided the incidents of proven fraud is greater than the margin of votes between first and second place. In short, a couple of cases of fraud wouldn’t necessarily trigger a by-election. I just don’t see the need to apply to a court once the cases of proven fraud prove greater than the vote margin.

          I agree that strict enforcement and prosecution of the fraud will be the primary means to combat election fraud going forward. It’s just the fine structure has to be updated. As “In and Out: Part One” proved, a party with deep pockets would have no problems paying the current token fines. The risk was judged to be minimal and well worth the reward. Huge fines and serious time should be the guidelines here.

          Tim, I didn’t bother to reference Mr. Tulk’s example as it was clearly fabricated or cribbed from an episode of the CBC’s “Heartland”. The jam contest episode, I think

        • Tim Sullivan says:

          Someone has to make the decision for a by-election, or that malfeasance meets the threshold for a by-election. Only a court has the evidence, rule of law and dispassion for the job.

  22. allegra fortissima says:

    Statute of Westminster, The First (1275): “Pur ceo q elections deivent estre fraunches, le Rey defent sour sa greve forfeture q nul, haut home ne autre, par poer de armes ne par [malice] ne desturbe de fere frauche Election.” (And because Elections ought to be free, the King commandeth upon great Forfeiture, that [no Man] by Force of Arms, nor by Malice, or menacing, shall disturb any to make free Election.)

    Long Live England!

  23. Terry says:

    “Canadians suspect that Stephen Harper has far less of an attachment to democracy than they do.”

    That’s a great line, Warren, it drives home the point that he’s been ‘just visiting’ democracy all along.

  24. Jason King says:

    Opinion isnt always fact Gord. But dont let that stop you from trying to stack the deck in your favour.

  25. Dude Love says:

    Individuals who actually received a robocall misdirecting them should be contacting Elections Canada. The LeadNow.ca website has over 46,000 “interactions”. Every notice that is not legitimate is simply bogging down the process and investigation.

    • Philip says:

      I guess the Con Party will be turning over their calling records to Elections Canada and the RCMP any second now, right?

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      The Prime Minister was only being ironic when he said he wanted Canadians to call EC.

      Canadians only have themselves to blame for taking him at his word.

  26. William says:

    You and Kelly can tell that to Pierre Poutine

  27. catherine says:

    Looks like Sona is getting some of his own leaks out to counter the Conservative leaks. A bit of a spat as Sona says his resignation was only accepted after he talked to Jenni Byrne and the Conservatives are insisting Jenni Byrne was not involved in Sona’s departure. The thing about some American football fan on probation for burglary and theft making the fake Sona confession tape is bizarre.

    http://www.canada.com/life/Young+Conservative+staffer+shocked+named+robocalls+affair+source/6296676/story.html

  28. Another problem is the MSM do not properly report the correct numbers for rallies. There were 2,500 approx. at the one in Toronto last Sunday but did anybody report it….. no, they didn’t, or they underreported it, or they gave it ten seconds out of the whole day, or whatever the 1% owners of mass media do to further their rich agenda.

    .

  29. JamesHalifax says:

    Hmmm……I don’t see much comment with regards to the NDP won riding (from Liberal incumbent) in Toronto. Apparently, a great many Tamils decided to vote……..in a country to which they don’t have citizenship. Interesting.

    More interesting, when the Liberal and Conservatives complained about it…..Elections Canada did nothing.

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