Here is the kicker. Now who will be going to jail
Andrew Coyne: All too plausible to think the Conservatives are involved in the robocall scandal | Full Comment | National Post
Here is a list of some of the things we do not know about the Robocon scandal (for those just joining us, the use of live or automated “robocalls” to harass or deceive — con — voters in certain ridings during the last election). We do not know whether the calls were made by members of the Conservative party. We do not know whether any Conservative authorized them, or even knew about them. We do not know whether anyone was prevented from voting, or had their vote changed, as a result, nor do we know whether the results of any riding were affected.
But my God, what we know is disturbing enough. There were not a few calls: there were thousands. They did not occur in one or two ridings: there were at least 18 of them, scattered across the country. In all but one the race was viewed as being between a Conservative and a Liberal, and in every one the calls were made to Liberal supporters. (The NDP now claims to have found nine ridings in which its own supporters received similar calls. These remain to be verified.) In some cases voters were given false information on where to vote by someone pretending to represent Elections Canada. In others, they were annoyed or insulted by calls purporting to come from the Liberal party.
There isn’t any doubt that this was election fraud; whoever did it, if caught, is almost certainly facing jail time. In the particular case of the riding of Guelph, Ont., as reported by Postmedia’s Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor, Elections Canada investigators have traced the calls to an Edmonton-based “voice-broadcast” company, RackNine, that has done work for a number of Conservative politicians, including Stephen Harper — though the calls were apparently made through it rather than by it. Elections Canada believes it knows the identity of the caller. One agency email obtained by Postmedia refers to “Conservative campaign office communications with electors.” Another warns: “This one is far more serious. They have actually disrupted the voting process.”
So, no, we do not know for a fact that the calls came from anyone acting on the authority of the Conservative party. But, well, let’s say it fits a pattern — if not of outright lawbreaking then certainly of close-to-the-wind tactics and ends-justify-the-means ethics. The “in and out” affair may not have been the scandal many, including Elections Canada, thought it was, but it hardly spoke of a robust commitment to honesty and fair play. The deceptive calls to voters in Irwin Cotler’s riding of Mount Royal are a still closer precedent. It is not implausible that somebody connected with the party would have taken their cues as to what was considered appropriate behaviour, and run with it.
But who? It beggars belief that local campaign workers in 18 different ridings could have separately hit upon the same scam, or carried it out without the knowledge of anyone outside the riding. The notion that the whole thing could be put down to one over-zealous young campaign worker, as some are putting about, is even less credible. Whoever did this would not only have to have the capacity to organize and fund a national robocalling operation. They would also have to have the lists of names and phone numbers to call. Such information would be closely held with respect to the party’s own supporters. But how many people in the party would have access to lists of Liberal supporters? And how did they get them?
It is hard to overstate how serious this is. It doesn’t matter whether the calls had their intended effect. It is sufficient that someone made them. If it were just the circumstances, or just their track record, the Conservatives might be given the benefit of the doubt. But the two together, while they do not prove anyone in the party was involved, make it all too plausible to believe they were. Indeed, it would be more surprising to find they weren’t.
At least 14 election ridings blitzed with live calls from fake Liberals | News | National Post
An analysis of reports of mysterious harassing phone calls during the May 2011 election points to the existence of a systematic voter suppression campaign targeting Liberal voters in tightly contested ridings.
Unlike the pre-recorded “robocalls” now under investigation by Elections Canada, these calls came from live callers, likely working from a call centre.
A Postmedia News-Ottawa Citizen investigation based on interviews with dozens of campaign workers has identified 14 ridings — mostly closely fought electoral districts in southern Ontario — where electors reported receiving fake live calls.