More on the Robocalls

As you can see from Monday's press release, my letter to Elections Canada of May 19, 2011,  and from my motion for an emergency debate in the House, I take the threat to the right of Canadians to full, free and fair elections extremely seriously.  This is not, as the Prime Minister shamefully alleged in the House today, a "smear campaign" by the Liberals.

Anyone who cherishes democracy would be outraged by the facts that have been disclosed in media reports.  I am disturbed by the Prime Minister's approach to the facts we now know.  He should call an inquiry.

One reason I am demanding an inquiry is that I do not think Elections Canada has the resources to undertake the investigation that is required.  And the RCMP, as well, do not have a good track record uncovering electoral fraud.

In 2008, robocalls into Saanich-Gulf Islands may well have allowed Conservative Gary Lunn to defeat a strong Liberal challenge by former Green Briony Penn.  The facts were well known.  The NDP candidate had withdrawn from the race, but at a point when it was too late for him to be replaced. His name was on the ballot, but he was not running. Robocalls the night before the election reached thousands of NDP supporters to urge them to get out and vote for the non-existent candidate. Both the RCMP and Elections Canada abandoned their investigations without finding the responsible parties.

With that brief factual background, I invite you to read the following blog from March 28, 2009 by Will Horter from BC Conservation Voters.

His last sentence is certainly prophetic: "If someone with subpoena powers doesn't step up with some investigative muscle, I predict many more Karl Rove-like black-op operations in future elections."


KARL ROVE COMES TO CANADA?
Friday, March 28 2009,by Will Horter

Canadians have watched the chaos and dirty tricks happening in U.S. presidential elections with a sense of superiority - giving thanks that 'it couldn't happen here in Canada". Don't be so sure.

Elections Canada's decision to drop their investigation into the fraudulent election eve robocalls in last October's federal election in Saanich-Gulf Islands (SGI) bodes badly for the future of Canadian democracy.

Expect dirty tricks to increase in future elections.

The 2008 SGI election was full of dirty tricks. There were shady 3rd party organizations advertising for Lunn, all being created by Lunn co-campaign chair Bruce Hallsor, as well as fake robocalls on the eve of the vote purporting to be from the NDP riding association asking voters to vote for NDP candidate Julian West, who had withdrawn from the election. The Caller ID displayed on the fake robocalls indicated the fax number of Bill Graham, president of the NDP riding association who denies any involvement.

In closing their lax investigation, an Elections Canada official said they "found no one who had actually been influenced in their vote because of the purported telephone call."
But Elections Canada and the RCMP seem to have overlooked other laws that could have been broken. The Criminal Code designates it an offence "to knowingly provide false information over the phone" (Section 372) or "to fraudulently impersonate another" (Section 403).

If it was known that the Elections Canada investigative threshold required "influenced voters" to be identified, I'm sure there are many people that would have helped them locate voters that felt duped by the calls.

Although Elections Canada claims they couldn't find anyone that was influenced the numbers say otherwise. A poll taken just a few days before the election showed the NDP vote to be at less than 1% while on polling day the NDP pulled 3,667 votes (5.69% of the vote). The NDP upswing in voting support surpassed the 2,621 vote margin Mr. Lunn had over Liberal challenger Briony Penn perhaps winning Lunn the election.

But finding voters that had "actually been influenced in their vote" should not be the standard Elections Canada uses because that opens the door to parties (or their plausibly deniable supporters or low level campaign staff) to game the rules and force someone to prove after the fact that it influenced voters -a high hurdle.

The fact that that the Elections Canada's letter to Paul McKivett, president of the Liberal riding association, also said Elections Canada "could not identify the source of the calls", is also worrisome.

What kind of investigation did Elections Canada conduct?

How can thousands of calls come into a small geographic area from a call centre in the U.S. and Elections Canada can't track it back to see who made the calls, who paid for them and who provided the list?

Is Elections Canada really saying that they can't document these facts?  Is it that they don't have the staff, the authority to reach beyond the border and compel answers and documents or the political will?

Elections Canada's lax investigation in SGI should raise serious concerns about future elections in Canada. The signal being sent is that Elections Canada is not an aggressive investigator.

The signal being sent to political parties, particular the Conservative Party of Canada - which has a track record of playing up to, if not over, the lines - is that they can have someone associated, but deniable, hire a U.S. call centre to flood a riding with spoofed or faked robocalls and Elections Canada will do little to get to the bottom of it.

As Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch recently said, Elections Canada's failure to fully investigate the SGI scam has ramifications for future elections, "If they are allowed to get away with this [in SGI] what happens if there's a case where the candidate is still there? Someone could do bulk calling on behalf of whichever candidate you think will split your candidate's vote."

Given the one-on-one nature of robocalls it is hard for third parties that can't subpoena phone records to identify the source or scale of the fraudulent calls. Only Elections Canada or the police can get to the bottom of these kinds of dirty tricks.

If someone with subpoena powers doesn't step up with some investigative muscle I predict many more Karl Rove-like black-op operations in future elections.

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Robocalls part of a pattern

The Robocalls in Saanich are part of a wider pattern of illegal activities. I say illegal because any expense during an election must be accounted for. And I am certain none of the candidates in Saanich claimed to have paid for these calls during the election.

Please read my blog on this topic of Election Fraud. It's been the #1 blog for two days running on Huffington Post Canada. It now has more than 4,500 likes, shares, tweets & comments. If you haven’t read it, it’s at http://huff.to/yW1YgR -- and anything you could do to promote it would be great! I want to see if it can keep #1 spot for traffic for a third day in a row.

With respect.  I'm suggesting

With respect.  I'm suggesting that you don't dilute the issue to other repugnant but lower misdemeanors, it actually helps confuse the issue and aids the Conservatives' damage control and denial campaign.  

Not accounting for expenses may be against accounting rules but it is not in the same category legally, as impersonating Elections Canada and suppressing the right to vote.  

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay

Same MO

Not properly accounting for election expenses across dozens of ridings was what the Conservatives Party pleaded guilty to in the "in and out" scandal. So we know they already have a proven history of that behaviour. In that sense, the non-reporting of these expenses fits with the established pattern, which adds some credulity to the accusations.

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins, Barrie ON - although I'm on Cabinet (Nat'l Rev. and Ecol. Fiscal Reform), views here are my own and may not reflect official GPC positions. Please visit www.ErichtheGreen.ca

Yes its part of a 'pattern'

Yes its part of a 'pattern' that substantiates the impression that the Conservatives are guilty.

But the downside is;

that many  other parties have financing irregularities.  And then this allows the Conservatives and their supporters to dilute and generalize everything as irregular and 'dirty tricks' by all parties, instead of crossing the line to actual election fraud.  

Without a *criminal conviction*, we will have just a continuing record of breaking the rules.  And the Liberals, NDP and BQ have broken rules also. 

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay

Nasty or Criminal?

Focus on Criminal calls:   All Robo-calls are not a crime.  All calls are not Robo-calls.  All nasty calls may be unethical but not unlawful.

 The media consistently distorts, confuses, muddles and eventually dumbs-down a complex issue into a false dichotomy. 

This time they are revising it to:  “smear vs. unethical behaviour?”  And:  Dirty tricks by both parties,  i.e. the “Vikileaks vs. robo-calls”.

 In the face of this constant reversion to a false question, the challenge is to keep the focus on calls that are *illegal*.

 The media will do their everyday best to jumble the issue.  And the opposition can’t resist attacking the Conservatives on every front, adding to the confusion.

The RCMP can’t be relied upon.  They have a record of favouring the PMO of the day.  (How can you trust an outfit that secretly bombed natural gas pumping stations to discredit environmentalists and turn them into ‘eco-terrorists’ for the public.)  Elections Canada has demonstrated their apathy to election fraud. 

Elizabeth and Jim and whoever else has a readership - please focus on calls that are breaking the law, and drive that point home.

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay

Media and EC unconcerned?

The media is developing a disturbingly schizophrenic mentality about last year’s election fraud. On the one hand, there are a score of new reports every day of ridings where people are coming forward saying they received calls impersonating Elections Canada or the Liberal Party and redirecting them to a bogus polling location. On the other hand, the media is breathlessly reporting on the latest developments in the Guelph investigation, as if this is the only one that matters.

And none of the reports, incidentally, are mentioning the fact that Canada apparently will soon lose its Election Commissioner — the man responsible for conducting the investigation. When is he leaving? Why? Is it compromising the investigation? And by the way, if you want to be the next Commissioner, your application is due tomorrow.

From http://sixthestate.net/?p=3829

Also very disturbing is the seeming lack of urgency or concern coming out of Elections Canada on this. The other part this is of course if the Cons are not involved, as they continue to  say, why are they so reluctant to commision a public enquiry, is it because they care less about democracy? I think that can be termed a retorical question!

 

Democracy requires dialog, please join us at http://democracyunderfire.blogspot.com/

Circumvent the MSM..

Let's face it, other than (maybe) the Toronto Star, no major Canadian print media is giving the Conservatives their due.  Most of the time they obfuscate, minimize and deflect on behalf of the Conservatives.  Even when they try to get in a dig, the journalism nowadays is so hurried that its not well thought out.

I found it odd that the media was so quick to attack Vikileaks because it was a "personal attack."  When did politicians become beyond reproach?  If Paul Martin as Finance Minister under Jean Chretien or as Prime Minsiter, conducted himself remotely like how Vic Toews did, there would have been a media firestorm.  Maybe our cabinet ministers shouldn't carry on affairs with their children's baby sitters, leave their wives, marry said baby sitters, and then stop paying child support.  I think that's pretty important knowledge about someone using a "child molester" meme to shove legislation down our throats.

The fact is, their is minimal coverage about the true nature of any of the contentious bills (C-10, C-11, C-30) nor the developing election fraud that appears to have converted a minority government into a majority one.

The only solution as I see it is to inject information whenever and wherever you can.  If that's on news websites, blogs, or chat forums, then do it.  If it's in the lunchroom, then do it.  If it's at the ice rink, do it.  This is unnacceptable at best, and the end of democracy as we know it at worst.

Conservatives investigating their own tapes?

According to some reports, the Harperites are going to Thunder Bay, a full week, before our apathetic Elections Canada to 'investigate' the tape-recorded calls.

There's nothing easier than damaging/doctoring tapes, why isn't there an order form EC to cease and desist, to keep their hands off this vital evidence?

Its more eerily Nixonian with every new revelation.

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay

OMG! Elections Canada might sweep this under the rug!

I read this on the G&M website.  What's scary is that it seems that Elections Canada is suggesting that some people redirect their complaints to the CRTC because the CRTC has jurisdiction over abusive phone calls.  What the?

Yes, it is true that the CRTC has jurisdiction over abusive phone-calls (actually, it may turn out to be false at some point), but their jurisdiction involves civil penalties for abusive telemarketing.  In fact, as these phone calls were political in nature, it's also possible the CRTC would simply ignore the complaints.

The reality is that only Elections Canada has the necessary authority to start the ball rolling toward criminal charges.  What's the CRTC going to do?  Are they going to fine Racknine $10K?  What's that going to do?  Now EC investigate in conjunction with the RCMP and potentially with assistance from the CRTC, but the CRTC alone is not going to anything worth squat.  I'm also pretty comfortable saying that the RCMP, if left to their own devices would just as soon ignore these complaints.

No, we cannot -- must not -- allow Elections Canada to skirt its responsibility here.  I want Elections Canada to engage the RCMP to stop the Conservatives from accessing evidence prior to police investigation (I hear they went up to Racknine to review some tapes ahead of EC.)  The RCMP needs to warn all parties that evidence tampering will result in Conrad Black style treatment, and NOTHING LESS.

I am hopeful that Elizabeth May can get a well thought out article printed in a major newspaper on this issue.  There is so much meat here that we don't even have to touch on parts that are marginal (ie, avoid the mention of ridings where the Conservatives ultimately lost.)

What if Pierre Poutine phone owner is a Registered 3rd Party ?

Just a thought here, but in my riding we had four "registered 3rd parties" with Elections Canada and some have a right wing tendency in their advertising .

If this turns out to be such an entity then this so called commission of inquiry is going to spend millions of tax dollars , just to find out the expenses were not fraud and not of the Conservatives doings, but some right wing group that are undertaking Anti-Canadian Activities. 

 

If someone goes to jail, then it doesn't matter.

Well, even if what you say happens to be true, then people still need to punished adequately as a general deterence.  But (a) I doubt it is true; and (b) even if it is true, it's difficult to say they were not put up to it by someone in a more prominent role.  The only way to stop it is to put people in jail or to slap significant fines on individuals.

At the moment, I put the chance of that happening at around 5%, because I have no faith in our democracy.

Here is an example of "Catch 22" 3rd party Robocalls

http://www.elections.ca/fin/thi/advert/tp41/TP-0001.pdf  Check out pages where they spent $904 in SGI riding.

Voter Suppression School!

It now appears that prior to the election the Manning Center for Democracy was teaching that voter suppression by various means including robo-calls was a normal and acceptable tactic during an election. Center for Democracy?!

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/03/07/robo-call-scandal-origins-inside-conservatives%E2%80%99-voter-suppression-school?page=0,0

Canada Elections Act

482. Every person is guilty of an offence who

  • (a) by intimidation or duress, compels a person to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election; or

  • (b) by any pretence or contrivance, including by representing that the ballot or the manner of voting at an election is not secret, induces a person to vote or refrain from voting or to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate at an election.

Should not teaching how to do just that should have some repercussions?

 

 

 

 

Democracy requires dialog, please join us at http://democracyunderfire.blogspot.com/

Canada's electoral system is a farce

We live in a country where 39% of the country can elect a government that has absolute power over the other 61%. We live in a country where the Prime Minister can legally shut down our lawmaking institutions to avoid a vote on non-confidence from our elected parliament. We live in a country where unelected shadow people in the prime minister's office have more say in policy and the direction of our country than our elected officials. We live in a country where a Cabinet Minister can accuse opponents of a piece of legislation of supporting child molesters with no accountability or apparent shame and then comes out a few days later saying he was surprised at some of the things in that legislation (Toews is not a minister he is just a spokesman reading off a list of talking points given to him by the PMO). Canada is being governed by the most viscious and ruthless government in it's history. There doesn't seem to be any boundaries to their behaviour. They manipulates parliamentary law (10% 'ers, Canada Action Plan Adds), the governor general and constitution (proroguing parliament), and now even possibly elections law. Living in Calgary I've already heard piss pot fulls of deflection and apology about this latest scandal. Wake up Canada.

Win it for the little guys.

Don't Answer 'Polls, Surveys, Questions'

Green Party should spread the word:

Don't answer or respond to 'polls', 'market surveys' or anyone asking questions about your voting preference.

Just say,  'That is private information.  I don't answer surveys.'  

'If you want information from me, you'll have to pay me for it.  I'm not giving it to you for free.  So you can make a profit from it.' 

Voter intention information is poison as it is mis-used to toxify the election process. 

Respectfully, D. Scott Barclay