By The Canadian Press - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
GUELPH, Ont. – Thousands of police officers from across Ontario are expected to gather…
GUELPH, Ont. – Thousands of police officers from across Ontario are expected to gather in Guelph, Ont., today to pay tribute to a policewoman killed in the line of duty last week.
Guelph police Const. Jennifer Kovach, 26, died a week ago today when her cruiser crossed the centre line and collided with a Guelph Transit bus.
She was responding to another officer’s call for assistance at the time.
A public funeral is being held today at the Sleeman Centre following a police procession.
Guelph’s police chief has described Kovach as a vibrant and dynamic woman who fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
She was the daughter of Gloria Kovach, a longtime city councillor and former president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The Police Association of Ontario said the constable made the ultimate sacrifice to keep her community and coworkers safe.
“We celebrate her life and her commitment to the community and profession she served,” the association’s president, Dave McFadden, said in a statement.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:08 PM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada released a discussion paper this week that explained the challenges of cracking down on robocall fraud and harassment.
In addition to the Guelph calls, the paper acknowledges for the first time that Elections Canada has received complaints of harassing live telephone calls at odd hours from the U.S. These are described as “numerous, repetitive, annoying or sometimes aggressive live or automated calls, as well as calls made late at night, on a religious holiday or from American area codes, purportedly from candidates whose campaigns have subsequently often denied making the calls.”
Such deceptive calls appear to be prohibited by Elections Act clauses that forbid preventing voters from casting their ballots, but the structure of the law makes it difficult to enforce, the agency reports. Even though the penalties for the breaking the elections law are light, investigators must follow the more onerous procedures required in criminal investigations. This creates “a significant imbalance between these lengthy and cumbersome procedures and the small fines that may be imposed as a result of a guilty finding, thus limiting the deterrent effect of such a finding.”
The full report is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 4:42 PM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher uncover a new twist.
Nearly a year after the investigation began, the agency is trying to determine why database records provided by the party appear to be missing entries that could help identify who downloaded the phone numbers used to make fraudulent robocalls, according to a source familiar with the probe … The investigators have inquired about CIMS logs for one particular user in the party’s headquarters. The logs show blanks between this person’s CIMS logon and logoff on the day the Guelph data was accessed, according to the source.
Whatever this may or may not amount to—and let’s stress that there’s no proof here of really anything—the NDP has already issued a Watergate reference (see below).
Update 4:51pm. And below the NDP release, a statement from the Conservative Party.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 26, 2012 at 1:59 PM - 0 Comments
Amid this weekend’s NDP convention frenzy, Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher uncovered a new twist in the tale of Pierre Poutine.
According to Mathews, the second message “had the appearance of being in support of the Frank Valeriote (Liberal Party) campaign in Guelph. The voice sounded to me as though computer generated rather than a script read by a person.” Poutine had set up a call display number with RackNine, also not used, that corresponded to Valeriote’s campaign office during the election.
A spokesman for Valeriote said Friday that their campaign has never used RackNine’s services. The strange call in support of Valeriote suggests it may have been intended to annoy the Liberal candidate’s supporters. In other ridings, numerous voters have complained of calls allegedly coming from Liberal candidates that came late at night or early in the morning.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
The company that Pierre Poutine used to make his robocalls would seem to employ an individual who may or may not exist.
Meier, who is said to be helping Elections Canada with their investigation and has repeatedly said he had no knowledge of the “Poutine” robocalls, has declined to comment on McKnight’s identity. In an interview, when asked how a reporter could get in touch with McKnight, he said “you don’t,” and hung up.
Later, he referred queries to his lawyer, R. Justin Matthews, who offered a cryptic reply. “How does one define a real person?” said Matthews in an email. “Would a web-design employee that chooses to use a different name online (which some people seem to do these days) be considered a real person?”
Meanwhile, Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher talk to the wife of the Conservative candidate in Guelph.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM - 0 Comments
The hunt for Pierre Poutine now includes a phoney YouTube video and anonymous senior Conservatives.
Sources said on the weekend that someone associated with the Guelph Conservative campaign had decided to step forward and accept responsibility for the calls on Monday, after learning that an Internet Protocol address had narrowed the search for the suspect known as “Pierre Poutine” to a single home in Guelph. Someone who spoke to Sona on Tuesday said that someone else may have gone to Elections Canada, but not him. “Whoever did, and confessed, it’s not him,” the person said…
CTV reported Monday night that senior Conservative sources said Sona had taken responsibility for the calls, but Sona is proclaiming his innocence. “He is going to be contacting his lawyer in regards to what legal response he can make to these lies,” said the person. And a YouTube video posted by someone claiming to be Sona is clearly a fake.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 1:17 PM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada has no comment on reports of an automated call sent out by the Valeriote campaign in Guelph during the last election. Elections Canada says it does not pre-authorize election messages and if approached to vet an election message, Elections Canada would advise a campaign to review sections 319 and 320 of the Elections Act.
Section 320 states as follows:
A candidate or registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, who causes election advertising to be conducted shall mention in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party, as the case may be.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 4:51 PM - 0 Comments
During a panel discussion on the CBC yesterday, Dean Del Mastro was asked to clarify which documents the Conservative party had turned over. He indicated that the party has provided Elections Canada with those documents that Elections Canada has requested.
Rosemary Barton. Dean Del Mastro, I just wanted to ask you about a speech that you gave inside the House earlier today. You said that the opposition parties should turn over their phone records to Elections Canada and then you said that the Conservative party already has. So I just want to be clear, what documents you have turned over.
Mr. Del Mastro. Well, we’ve made it clear that we’re fully assisting Elections Canada in the investigation they’ve undertaken in Guelph. So we’ve provided them any information they’ve requested in that regard, but the opposition parties have not, Rosie. In this case, we believe that they should.
Rosemary Barton. So you’ve just turned over documents in relation to Guelph, nothing else?
Mr. Del Mastro. Well, that’s what’s been requested, so, you know, we’re fully transparent…
Rosemary Barton. … So you would not proactively disclose all documents to Elections Canada. Anything to do with automated or live calls, to say you want to be transparent, here you go. You’re not going to do that?
Mr. Del Mastro. Well, in fact, we’ve provided transparency that the other parties have not…
According to a spokeswoman for the NDP, Elections Canada has not requested any documents from the NDP. Similarly, a spokeswoman for the Liberals says Elections Canada has made no such request of the Liberals.
By John Geddes - Friday, March 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM - 0 Comments
Conservatives quietly admit something went wrong in that Guelph riding. Their mission now is to stop the scandal from infecting the rest of the party.
In the spring of 2005, his minority Liberal government reeling from revelations at Justice John Gomery’s inquiry into millions in misused federal sponsorship funds in Quebec, then-prime minister Paul Martin went on TV to plead his case. He pledged to call an election within 30 days of Gomery issuing his ﬁnal report, and apologized to Canadians for not realizing public money was being misdirected until long after the fact. Stephen Harper, then leading the Conservatives in opposition, was scorching in his televised response. Harper accused Martin of “turning a blind eye to it all,” and spoke sweepingly of “Liberal corruption.” If Martin depicted the wrongdoing as serious, but limited, and his party as ready to make it right, Harper condemned Liberals in general, particularly in Quebec, as “tarnished beyond redemption.”
As the 2006 election proved, Martin’s containment strategy failed miserably, while Harper succeeded brilliantly in making all Liberals pay a heavy price for corruption among a tight-knit group of party players in Montreal. And that’s why the sponsorship affair is again on the minds of many political insiders as the so-called “robocalls” affair unfolds. This time, it’s Harper trying to put a scandal in quarantine, and the NDP and Liberals striving to make sure his whole Tory brand is infected. The main line of Conservative defence, after sounding confused in the affair’s early days, ﬁrmed up this week: any deceptive calling happened in the Ontario riding of Guelph only, and the party brass couldn’t have known about it. “The whole thing is a nightmare for the government,” said NDP MP David Christopherson. “Even if they are innocent, it’s a nightmare.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM - 0 Comments
He said he was first contacted during the election last year by someone who identified himself as Pierre Jones, who said he was a student completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Ottawa. He claimed he was studying advertising effectiveness and wanted to look at the operation of call centres. “He never was Pierre Poutine,” said Mr. Meier.
… Mr. Meier said he had his “Eureka” moment at 3 a.m. one morning, and by 5 a.m. had written a 22 page report for Elections Canada. “He [Pierre Jones] screwed up. Just for a fraction of a second but it was enough for me to find him,” he said. The information supplied to Elections Canada should expedite the investigation and offer some clues as to whether the robocall was the work of one individual or was the result of a more co-ordinated effort, as the opposition parties have alleged.
The Citizen is unable to find any evidence of a Pierre Jones studying commerce at the University of Ottawa.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 8:54 PM - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher report that Elections Canada is investigating the expenses of the Conservative campaign in Guelph.
Elections Canada investigators probing the robocalls scandal are interviewing workers on the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., and trying to determine why payments made to an Edmonton voice-broadcasting company were not declared in financial reports filed with the agency…
Elections Canada wants to know why the costs of automated calls the campaign has admitted sending out never appeared in the campaign’s expense report, as required by law.
The Star reports that Elections Canada is now investigating calls in Nipissing—Timiskaming
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
Del Mastro again denied accusations from opposition parties that his party engaged in a voter suppression campaign, but told host Evan Solomon it appears that “what went wrong in Guelph was in fact untoward, it was intentional.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 10:06 PM - 0 Comments
I had no involvement in the fraudulent phone calls, which also targeted our supporters as can be attested to by our local campaign team and phone records. On Thursday, I offered my resignation to my employer. The role of a staffer is to assist their employer in their responsibilities, and that was impossible to accomplish with the media continually repeating these rumours. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I resigned from my position.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM - 0 Comments
He chopped and swiped with his hand. He pumped his fist and jabbed his finger. He raised his voice and he scolded and he challenged and he dismissed. How dare the NDP, they who once propagated a phone campaign that directed disenchanted voters to call Lise St. Denis’s office, accuse him of wrongdoing. Who were they to stand here and challenge him? And with what evidence exactly? And the Liberals, they having recently employed someone who posted to Twitter excerpts of the Public Safety Minister’s divorce proceedings—perhaps they might just go ahead and apologize to the government for suggesting anything untoward.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada traces the disposable phone linked to fraudulent calls in Guelph.
The fraudulent robocall that misdirected voters in Guelph came from a Virgin Mobile disposable cellphone registered to one Pierre Poutine, on Separatist Street, in Joliette, Que, court documents obtained by Postmedia News, the Ottawa Citizen and the Edmonton Journal show.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 11:29 AM - 0 Comments
At this point in the story, there seem to be three kinds of election mischief being discussed in relation to the last federal campaign. And it is probably worth differentiating between them.
Type 1. Late night or otherwise annoying calls purporting to be from one campaign or another, presumably intended to bring that campaign into disrepute. These have been alleged in various ridings with reports of calls coming at odd hours or callers being rude and offensive.
Type 2. Automated calls—”robocalls”—carrying messages that convey incorrect or misleading information about a voter’s polling station.
Type 3. Calls from live human callers who convey incorrect or misleading information about a voter’s polling station.
It is types 2 and 3 that I have focused on and, in that regard, I have so far identified 14 ridings where such claims are being made (see here and here). It seems to me that these are the most serious allegations, it being an offence under the Elections Act to “wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election.” For those 14 ridings, it is mostly unclear (to me at least) which calls were automated and which involved an actual person on the other end of the line, except in the case of Guelph, which seems to have involved robocalls.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor look at the investigation in Guelph.
A production order executed on RackNine Inc. in Edmonton compelled the company to turn over all emails, billing records and other correspondence between it and “the Conservative party general election campaign in Guelph.” The court order also required the Conservative-connected company to hand over the user names, passwords and IP addresses of anyone associated with the Guelph campaign who used RackNine between March 26 and May 31.
The order also required RackNine to release records of calls that used the number 450-760-7746. The Bell Canada phone number in Joliette, Que., appeared on call displays of some recipients of the fraudulent election day calls in Guelph. Sources close to the investigation have indicated the number was assigned to a disposable “burner” cellphone, purchased with cash and then used to call RackNine.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 27, 2012 at 8:14 PM - 0 Comments
I count 11 ridings that have so far been linked to allegations that voters were called about their polling stations: Guelph, Kitchener Centre, Kitchener-Conestoga, Kitchener-Waterloo, London West, Parkdale-High Park, Nipissing-Timiskaming, Elmwood-Transcona, Winnipeg South Centre, Sydney-Victoria and Saanich-Gulf Islands. (For sourcing see here, here, here, here and here.)
Meanwhile, the CBC now has a list of all the ridings where changes to polling stations occurred during the last 24 days of last year’s election. Of those 11 ridings that are the subject of alleged phone calls about polling stations, I see four on that list: Kitchener Centre, Kitchener-Conestoga, Guelph and Parkdale-High Park.
The other seven are not mentioned.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 24, 2012 at 7:10 PM - 0 Comments
Various allegations of phone mischief were made during the last federal campaign and various ridings have been cited this week in connection to the fraudulent calls being investigated by Elections Canada. Because the allegations vary—rude calls, late night calls, calls about polling stations, etc—it’s probably worth clarifying how many ridings may have been impacted by calls meant to misdirect voters to fake or incorrect polling stations.
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher identified seven such ridings.
The robocalls received in Guelph were recorded in female voices in both French and English. They told voters their polling stations had moved to a shopping mall in the city’s downtown, where parking was scarce.
A Citizen-Postmedia investigation has found calls misdirecting voters were also reported in ridings across the country: Kitchener-Waterloo, Kitchener-Conestoga, London-West, Parkdale-High Park, Winnipeg South Centre and Sydney-Victoria. It is possible that they were caused by robo-dialing errors.
Beyond that, there is what was reported nine months ago. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM - 96 Comments
While clarifying the parameters around special ballot voting, Elections Canada has ruled that the votes cast in Guelph will be counted.
While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid.
Whatever the allegations of attempt ballot box interference, the Conservative campaign says it’s happy the students will not be disenfranchised.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 15, 2011 at 10:41 AM - 144 Comments
The Conservative campaign has issued the following statement.
The Conservative Party encourages all Canadians to exercise their democratic right to vote. In fact, we are taking unprecedented steps to ensure that all Canadians are aware of the many ways in which they can vote, including voting by special ballot at or through returning offices.
Voting is a democratic right. A fair election process is an equally important democratic right. All Canadians want the election rules to be followed and to be enforced the same everywhere.
On April 13, representatives of the Marty Burke campaign attended at a polling station set up by the Returning Officer for Guelph.
The local campaign was denied the right to have its identified scrutineer observe the process – a denial of a basic electoral right. The local campaign also noticed that Liberal material was present in the polling area – a clear breach of the rules.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 15, 2011 at 8:43 AM - 121 Comments
Several University of Guelph students claim Michael Sona, the communications director for Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke, attempted to put a stop to voting at the special ballot held Wednesday. The students say Sona approached the Elections Canada balloting site claiming that the process unfolding at the location was illegal and at one point reached for but never took possession of a container with ballots.
“He tried to grab for the ballot box. I’m not sure he got his hand on the box, but he definitely grabbed for it,” said Brenna Anstett, a student, who at the time of the reported incident was sealing her second of two envelopes containing her vote. Student Claire Whalen was just about to receive her ballot just before 5 p.m. when the episode unfolded. “That’s when a guy came up and said it was an illegal polling station and that he was confiscating the ballots. And then he tried to take (the ballot box),” Whalen said.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 8:45 AM - 51 Comments
Another university student says she was turned away from a Conservative rally.
Joanna MacDonald, a fourth-year environmental sciences student at Guelph University, says she pre-registered for Harper’s election campaign event at the school Monday. But after arriving with a friend, MacDonald says she was directed to a desk where she was told her name had been flagged and she was asked to leave.”It was very bizarre to be on the flagged list but have no one there to tell you why you were on the list,” MacDonald, 21, told The Canadian Press in an interview.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 11:12 AM - 59 Comments
Several of the peaceful mob participants had registered to attend the Harper event, but they were turned away by RCMP officers. Cara Dawson and Izzy Hirji were among those asked to leave the venue. A Conservative Party of Canada official approached them and indicated they were not welcome because of their involvement in an action that was perceived as a protest by party insiders. Dawson and Hirji tried to explain that it was not a protest and that they had registered to attend the campaign event, but the official could not be persuaded. RCMP Cpl. Tony Fowler of the “O” Division/VIP Security Section told the students the event was by invitation only and they would have to leave.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff stood to relate the concerns of another individual he’d recently met—the latest in his 33-million-part series on the lives of average Canadians. “Mr. Speaker, on Monday, at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Guelph, a young student named Diane asked me a question,” he recalled.
Across the way, various Conservatives groaned. But the Liberal leader would not be troubling anyone on the government side to respond to Diane’s question. In fact, he had already answered for them.
“‘We’re caring for my grandmother at home. If elected, what would you do to help people for caring for the sick and elderly at home?’” Mr. Ignatieff reported this young lady as having wondered. “I replied to Diane, ‘Our answer is the family care plan.’ The Conservatives’ answer is, ‘Use your vacation time.’”
No doubt the Conservatives appreciated that Mr. Ignatieff had saved them the trouble of telling Diane that much themselves.
“The question is this,” Mr. Ignatieff continued, now seemingly speaking for himself. “How can the Prime Minister justify tax breaks for profitable corporations instead of helping families like Diane’s?” Continue…