The Liberals and New Democrats seem to be gathering together evidence of every crank call made during last year’s federal election and lumping them together under the heading of “robo-calls” and “voter suppression.” This may excite the bases of their parties and give them something on which to hang a fundraiser, but it’s neither a fair nor a democratic practice.
Here’s a list of the type of calls the opposition parties are including in their allegations (source)—I have appended my comments:
- Calling people at mealtimes—this proves nothing, most unsolicited calls to my home come in at or near mealtimes.
- Mimicking accents—it’s almost impossible for most people to tell a fake accent, especially on the telephone. Over decades in Canada, I’ve yet to meet someone who was able to guess my accent without hints.
- Treating people rudely—this is pretty subjective and could indicate insufficient training by either the Liberal or New Democrat campaigns.
- Calling on the Sabbath—this insensitive behaviour is common when the Sabbath in question is not Sunday. Campaigns have the same challenge with scheduling events on Jewish and Muslim holy days. This may very well not be intentional.
- Calling late at night or early in the morning—too trivial for words.
- Pronouncing Guy Gallant in an anglicised manner—I have a cousin by this name, and his is an English name—it’s an easy enough mistake to make in a bi-lingual country.
- Jamming a Cambridge fax machine with calls—kids will be kids, I suppose.
- Calling Dr. Carolyn Bennett by the name of “Doctor Carolyn Bennett.” Wow, I don’t have an answer to this one.
Hardly the sort of evidence that would justify an allegation of, as the NDP’s Pat Martin suggested, “the largest electoral fraud in Canadian history.” Many of these calls could just as well have been made by poorly trained Liberal operatives—or, for that matter, New Democrats.
Liberals are not nearly as squeaky clean as they’d have us believe. Just days ago they were caught in a sleazy trick involving nasty Tweets about Conservative minister Vic Teows’s private life.
And, during the 2011 election, a man canvassing for Liberal party candidate and former Grit cabinet minister Joe Volpe was seen by a Green Party supporter removing Green Party campaign flyers from mailboxes and replacing them with Liberal materials. Note: according to Green candidate Paul Baker, “Mr. Volpe was nearby when the flyers were trashed.”
The NDP also are not strangers to dirty tricks: New Liberal MP Lise St-Denis has accused her former NDP colleagues of playing dirty political games in her riding. And NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton charged that Tom Mulcair’s campaign has been spreading false rumours that she is dropping out of the race so they can attract her Quebec delegates.
In one of the allegations of wrong-doing, the caller apparently conveniently self-identified as, “The Conservatives.” How very deceptive. This shows the opposition is tossing in even the most farfetched allegations in an attempt to bolster their case.
Furthermore, The Toronto Star reports that members of Responsive Marketing Group Inc.’s call centre staff in Thunder Bay seemed to have known on election day that they were directing people to the wrong voting stations, and that they admitted to sometimes changing scripts on their own, without the knowledge of their superiors or of the Conservative party.
According to that report, the call centre employees were told to identify themselves as representatives of the Conservative Party of Canada. Some of them, however, decided to say instead that they were calling from Elections Canada. How is this the fault of the Conservative party?
I’m troubled by some of what is alleged to have gone on in the Guelph, Ontario campaign. As to the rest, however, while these sort of activities may well be seen as unfair by many including this writer, I doubt any of the above will prove to be illegal and that any of it affected the final result of the election.