Three days before polls opened in the last federal election, Elections Canada officials were using the word “scam” to describe election irregularities, making this statement from the EC commish, throwing in the towel two weeks after the election even before any investigation had begun, all the more astonishing:
“There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the overall result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.
“The investigation of complaints regarding web based conduct – particularly third party conduct – is difficult, time consuming and may be inconclusive. The same applies to telephone communications that flow through intermediaries and foreign call centres. Consequently, the dirty tricks complaints which definitely occurred may not be resolvable, if the conduct is illegal under the Act.”
Foreign call centres.
Back in March, Dean Del Mastro gaffed when he mistakenly accused Liberal MP Joe Volpe’s campaign of using a foreign call centre from “North Dakota’s 701 area code“.
Amusingly it turned out to be Del Mastro and 13 other Cons who used Ohio-based Republican call centre Front Porch Strategies to help win their 14 ridings.
So given that the Cons are prone to blaming others for what they themselves get up to, let’s have a look at just where North Dakota showed up in our last election.
There’s the now famous “Idiot, he can hear us” call from North Dakota directing a Winnipeg Centre voter to the wrong polling station. The voter recalled overhearing “people discussing voters in Ontario, particularly Guelph and Thunder Bay.”
Liberal MP Joe Volpe asked Elections Canada to formally investigate reports that residents in his Eglinton-Lawrence riding were being harassed by repeated calls from someone with a North Dakota phone number claiming to represent his campaign.
Kingston, Ontario residents reported being woken up at 2am by callers claiming to be from the Liberal Party, ditto calls on Easter Sunday, and being sent to the wrong polling station. Some of these calls were traced to a North Dakota calling centre.
Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra, said “several” supporters in her riding got late-night calls from people purporting to be Liberals who were “harassing and rude.” The calls came from a number in North Dakota.
London West candidate Doug Ferguson reported calls from Florida and the Dakotas “repeatedly asking them to take Liberal lawn signs. Also on election day, we had calls from people saying they’d received calls saying the polls had been moved.”
The Barrie Liberal campaign office reported complaints about calls at 11:30 at night and 6:30 am purporting to come from the Liberal Party. Call*69 showed the call came from South Dakota.
Lib MP Mr. Wilfert’s campaign office in Richmond Hill received an automated message two days before the election, showing a number from North Dakota.
Voters in Ottawa-Orleans reported live calls and robocalls — rude, late at night, claiming to be from the Liberal Party — from North Dakota and Montana.
Well you get the idea.
800 notes lists over a thousand complaints about North Dakota phone number 701-509-8703 — mostly to do with credit card scams and phishing. Two thirds down page one is this one dated Mar 27 2011 (h/t commenter Lexy at Sixth Estate) :
followed up on April 14 by a concerned Andrew Gill campaign person asking for more info.
Liberal candidate Andrew Gill ran against Con MP Rick Dykstra in St. Catherines in the last election.
“We had a ton of people call in during the campaign saying they got harassing phone calls all hours of the day and night,” Andrew Gill said, “over-the-top aggressive” calls. “The way we took it is they were trying to make our campaign look bad.”
Mr. Dykstra, now Parliamentary Secretary to Jason Kenney, has been mentioned on Creekside before in connection with rw US Republican robocallers Front Porch Strategies doing doorknocking for him in his riding, as well as his campaign manager joining FPS as the Canada-US liaison.
Which is I think where we came in.