By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 30, 2012 - 0 Comments
Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher review the latest numbers from Elections Canada.
Dickson writes that Elections Canada has received 1,147 complaints of inappropriate calls, in 247 ridings, including 252 complaints from Guelph, where the “Pierre Poutine” robocall send hundreds of voters to the wrong polling station. Dickson notes the calls in Guelph are the subject of an investigation that is “separate, but related” to his own.
A total of 1,043 complaints are from voters who say they were directed to a wrong polling station by callers, 625 of them from live or recorded callers “claiming to emanate from Elections Canada.” Elections Canada does not call voters to tell them their polling stations have moved. The other calls are rude or harassing calls from people identifying themselves as Liberals or New Democrats, calling at odd hours, swearing or rudely demanding donations.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Council of Canadians executive director Garry Neil joked the Tories let his group off relatively lightly. “Unlike the epithets thrown at their political opponents, we aren’t being accused of being Nazi sympathizers, or terrorists, or being on the side of the child pornographers,” he said.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM - 0 Comments
As part of its challenge to the election results in seven ridings, the Council of Canadians asked Ekos to study the experiences of individuals in those ridings. Ekos surveyed respondents in the seven ridings and then compared those responses to a survey of Canadians residing elsewhere. The full report from Ekos is here.
This study has presented evidence which strongly suggests that in the subject ridings there was a targeted program of voter suppression in place. It was reported to be administered to tens of thousands of electors based on these samples … If these responses were the constructions of disgruntled non-Conservative voters, one cannot explain why the targeting effects were not present in the comparison group.
Exposure to these calls clearly had a dampening effect on the propensity of non-Conservative supporters to vote. Using different methods, we would estimate the effect in the range of 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
The Ekos polling firm has found strong evidence that non-Tory supporters were targeted in…
The Ekos polling firm has found strong evidence that non-Tory supporters were targeted in the voter suppression effort during last year’s federal election campaign.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that voter suppression activities were surveyed in seven ridings where election results are currently being contested in Federal Court. They included calls that directed voters to polling stations that didn’t exist, as well as phone calls from people falsely claiming to represent Elections Canada, Ekos Research Associates told the newspaper.
“These results strongly suggest that significant voter-suppression activities took place that were targeted at non-Conservative voters,” Ekos Research said in an affidavit filed as part of the Council of Canadians’ legal challenge of the results in the seven ridings, CTV reports. The findings are “highly statistically significant and we can say with confidence that this is not an artifact of chance,” Ekos president Frank Graves wrote.
The survey found that people in the seven contested ridings were 50 per cent more likely to receive the misleading phone calls than people in 106 other ridings that were consulted. It also found that NDP, Liberal and Green Party supporters were about three times more likely to receive the erroneous calls about polling station locations than Conservative voters during the last two or three days of the election, the Globe and Mail reports.
What’s more, the survey found a connection between people who told canvassers that they wouldn’t vote Conservative and those who later said they received the misleading phone calls.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
As part of its challenge to the election results in seven ridings, the Council of Canadians has obtained (and now released) an affidavit from Annette Desgagne, a call centre worker with Responsive Marketing Group in Thunder Bay.
About 3 days before election day, the script changed in a manner that was noticeable to me. When a new script was being implemented, we would have to specifically log off and log back into the system. This time, the scripts we were to read to the listeners concerned changes to the locations of their polling stations. The new scripts we were to read did not identify that we were calling on behalf of the Conservative Party nor did we mention the local Conservative candidate…
I started to become concerned about the Change of Address Calls, because several listeners with whom I spoke, questioned me about the new polling location I was providing. For example, I recall one woman in Winnipeg telling me that the address I just gave her was over an hour away. I tried to problem solve this over the phone with her for a few minutes, but she was sure the new address was wrong. There was a phone number at the bottom of the screen in front of me that I was to give people if they had further questions. That lady said she had called that number but that it was not a correct number.
Elections Canada specifically asked all political parties to refrain from calling voters about changes to polling station locations. But Ms. Desgagne says she recalls calling voters in Nipissing-Timiskaming, where apparently no changes were made.
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, April 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM - 0 Comments
Having previously clarified his remarks about Campaign Research and apologized for his statements about Responsive Marketing Group, Pat Martin convened reporters this morning to say sorry to RackNine.
I apologize for any damage my statements may have caused to Mr. Meier personally or to RackNine, and I have been specifically authorized by the NDP Party to apologize on behalf of the NDP Party for any similar damage the publications on the NDP website may have caused.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 9, 2012 at 4:06 PM - 0 Comments
A new complaint about misleading calls during the last election, this time from a Conservative source.
In a copy of the complaint obtained by The Globe and Mail, Guelph Tory campaign manager Ken Morgan states that calls to Conservative supporters began on April 28 and continued until voting day on May 2. The phone number associated with the calls was 519-479-0031, which, when dialled, led to a recording that said, “This is the Conservative Party of Canada.”
“In no way did this call originate from the Conservative party, nor am I assuming the ‘Elections Office,’ ” Mr. Morgan wrote in an e-mail to the federal elections commissioner last month, after the “Pierre Poutine” robo-call controversy exploded into a political firestorm. “I would like to know from whom did this call originate? It was obviously an attempt to lure our supporters away from their legitimate polls.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM - 0 Comments
Marc Mayrand told the procedure and House affairs committee today that Elections Canada had received 800 specific complaints. He explained that those complaints covered approximately 200 ridings spread over 10 provinces and one territory.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
The chief electoral officer is presently appearing at the committee on procedure and House affairs. He just finished his opening statement, the prepared text of which has been posted online.
The recent media reports on details of the subsequent investigation resulted not only in sustained media coverage, but also in a large number of people communicating with Elections Canada. Since then, close to 40,000 people have contacted my Office to express their concern. Of these contacts, over 800 were complaints alleging specific occurrences of improper or fraudulentcalls across the country. We have added sufficient resources to deal with the inflow of communications and to contact electors who made specific factual allegations. As I indicated in my statement on March 15, I thank Canadians for their collaboration.
The Office of the Commissioner is pursuing its investigation, and I am confident in their ability to do so in a manner that meets the highest standards. Until the investigation is completed and the facts are established, I reiterate the importance of not drawing any premature conclusions.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 4:24 PM - 0 Comments
Shortly before Question Period, the NDP’s David Christopherson stood to note that the Conservatives had not yet come forward with legislation to enhance the chief electoral officer’s investigative powers, as unanimously suggested by the House. Mr. Christopherson then lamented for the chief electoral officer’s committee appearance tomorrow.
To make matters worse, Conservatives are now playing games with the Chief Electoral Officer. Mr. Mayrand asked to come before Parliament and report on his investigation into allegations of coordinated voter suppression by Conservative operatives, but the Conservatives used their majority to force Mr. Mayrand to testify tomorrow on budget day when almost every journalist on the Hill will be locked up in a room without even their Blackberries.
At some point around the time Mr. Christopherson was suggesting the Conservatives had used their majority on the procedure and house affairs committee in this way, Conservative MP Joe Preston, the chair of the committee, loudly voiced his objection.
Mr. Preston stood after QP and apologized “unreservedly” for his “very inappropriate” comments.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
The Council of Canadians is challenging the election result in seven ridings.
The voter suppression tactics alleged in the litigation include “calls that misdirected electors to the wrong poll or calls of a harassing nature intended to discourage support for a particular candidate,” said Ottawa lawyer Steven Shrybman, who represents the council.
Shrybman said these cases test new ground by asking the court to weigh the effects of a pattern of voter suppression, not just specific acts that have characterized the few legal challenges of past election results. ”We don’t know exactly what the standards will be,” he said. “How do you measure the effect of voter suppression techniques on the result?”
The seven ridings are Don Valley East, Winnipeg South Centre, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Vancouver Island North, Yukon, Nipissing-Timiskaming and Elmwood-Transcona. Winnipeg South Centre, Nipissing-Timiskaming and Elmwood-Transcona are all included on my list of ridings where suspicious calls about polling stations were reported. Following media reports, Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher add Yukon and Vancouver Island North to that list.
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 - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 11:52 AM - 0 Comments
Mr. Minuesa issued a statement as well as a picture and identification Tuesday in an effort to corroborate his identity. “I’ve been working for RackNine for over two years as a lead developer creating web sites, and working with social media,” the staffer said. “I do exist. Attached are a recent photo and a copy of my European Union driver’s license.”
Mr. Minuesa said none of his work is connected to robo-calls. “I have followed the ‘robo-calls’ issue, and can state that I have never had any involvement with the auto-dialing services provided by RackNine. It has nothing to do with my department.”
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 - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
Ian Brodie, who was Mr. Harper’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008, said revelations from an Elections Canada probe that has centred on the Southern Ontario riding of Guelph and its local Conservative campaign likely indicate “a very devious local effort that could well lead to charges against several campaign volunteers.”
But he didn’t dismiss the possibility of “a national effort at subterfuge.” “Something seems to have gone on, on a scale I’ve never seen before,” Mr. Brodie wrote in an e-mail.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM - 0 Comments
John Ivison traces Pierre Poutine to a variety of Ontario area codes.
The call that claimed to come from Elections Canada was sent out to 5,053 recipients in the 519 area code that covers Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Windsor and Sarnia. But it was also received by 35 people in downtown Toronto, 74 in the 905 suburban belt surrounding the GTA, 14 in the 613 area code that includes Kingston and Ottawa, 22 in the 705 code area that includes Barrie, Sudbury and North Bay and one person in Thunder Bay.
By my count, 21 of the 40 ridings on our list are in Ontario: Dufferin-Caledon, Guelph, Haldimond-Norfolk, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, Kingston and the Islands, Kitchener Centre, Kitchener-Conestoga, Kitchener-Waterloo, London West, Mississauga East-Cooksville, Nipissing-Timiskaming, Northumberland-Quinte West, Ottawa-Orleans, Ottawa-West Nepean, Parkdale-High Park, Peterborough, Sarnia-Lambton, Thunder Bay-Superior North, Windsor-Tecumseh, Windsor West and York Centre.
Using MP constituency offices as a guide, those ridings cover six area codes: 519, 905, 613, 705, 416 and 807.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 16, 2012 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
The CBC thinks it has detected a pattern.
An investigation by CBC News has turned up voters all over Canada who say the reason they got robocalls sending them to fictitious polling stations was that they’d revealed they would not vote Conservative.
Although the Conservative Party has denied any involvement in the calls, these new details suggest that the misleading calls relied on data gathered by, and carefully guarded by, the Conservative Party.
The Chief Electoral Officer says Elections Canada is looking at 700 suspicious calls. Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher look at the investigation. The NDP goes to Peterborough. And the story goes international.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberals say they have now “proactively” provided Elections Canada with documentation of its telephone campaigning during the last election.
See previously: What we’re talking about when we talk about document disclosure
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 - Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
Elections Canada says the majority of the 31,000 complaints it reported two weeks ago originated with online forms.
If you look at riding-level data, there’s not much to see. But Simon Fraser University’s Anke Kessler has dug deeper into Elections Canada’s poll-level database and uses information that is available at the poll level. Outcomes at polling stations differ in turnout and in vote shares for particular candidates; this makes each riding look like a smaller copy of a country-wide election. In a first step, she finds that polling stations with predominantly non-Conservative voters generally experienced a decline in voter turnout from 2008 to 2011. In a second step, she asks how the extent of this decline varies with reported robocalls. She finds that it was larger in the former, meaning that in ridings where robocalling was reported, polling stations that voted predominantly non-Conservative in the 2008 election saw a greater-than-average decline in voter turnout.
Gordon also notes some important caveats and has posted Prof. Kessler’s paper here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
In regards to the matter of the Valeriote campaign’s call, it is the Liberal side’s contention that robocalls do not qualify as advertising (and thus are not covered by Section 320 of the Elections Act). Here is how the Liberals explained the matter in an email bulletin this evening.
It is clear that so-called “robocalls” do not constitute “advertising”.
Elections Canada agreed with this assessment during the last election and posted this interpretation on its website:
“Elections Canada has taken the position that the prohibition (against Election Day advertising) does not extend to messages, whether live or automated, which are sent to a specific telephone or e-mail address.”
So while “advertising” is something that is broadcast, “robocalls” are targeted and are not subject to the same rules. While we don’t dispute that the Liberal automated call in Guelph should have more clearly identified its origin, it should not be used by the Conservatives or anyone else to muddy the waters and further confuse Canadians.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Nycole Turmel wanted to talk about the apparently impending confession of Pierre Poutine. Pierre Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph. Ms. Turmel wanted to propose a public inquiry. Mr. Poilievre wanted to talk about what the Liberals had done wrong in Guelph.
Switching to English, Ms. Turmel presented an itemized list of grievances.
“Mr. Speaker, the President of the Treasury Board said he wants to change the culture of Ottawa,” he noted. “Changing the culture, like replacing Liberal scandals with Conservative scandals? A culture where people can rig elections? A culture where the Prime Minister does not answer questions? A culture with no accountability, no transparency? A culture of denial and partisan attacks? If the Prime Minister wanted to change the culture, he must take responsibility. Will he?”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Liberal MP Frank Valeriote acknowledges his campaign sent out a robocall during the last election that didn’t identify the Liberal party as the source. Reports differ as to whether or not that constitutes a violation of the Elections Act (Mr. Valeriote claims Elections Canada told him it wasn’t). Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher have a timeline of events in Guelph.
Meanwhile, Richard Ciano—a principal at Campaign Research, the firm linked to controversial calls in Irwin Cotler’s riding—frets that the innocent robocall is being unfairly maligned by the current scandal. Setting aside Mr. Ciano’s theory that this is an NDP-Liberal plot to keep the Conservatives from campaigning—the NDP have shown themselves to be rather enthusiastic robocallers—there is something to be said for differentiating between robocalls and what is alleged to have occurred during the last election. However bothersome, the automated call is a perfectly legitimate form of political campaigning, like a candidate knocking on your door or a party running television advertisements. In the case of Guelph and several other ridings, what is alleged is that voters were misled about the location of their polling stations for the purposes of obstructing their ability to vote. And that, if done consciously and purposefully, could rise to the level of election fraud. That phone calls might have been used to carry out fraud is ultimately secondary.
Put another way, Adscam wasn’t about an inherent failing in the advertising industry, it was about corruption. The robocall scandal isn’t about robocalls. It’s about an allegation that the public’s right to vote was interfered with.