In writing about the Cons’ dirty tricks robocall election fraud, John Ibbitson muses whether the Cons might just bear some “measure of responsibility” for creating a political climate in which their “rogue” campaign managers impersonate Election Canada officials on Election Day in order to send voters off to the wrong or non-existing polling stations to vote.
OK, let’s look at just one such riding where things went rogue.
During the last election, Kitchener-Waterloo voters reported being phoned on Election Day and told their polling station had been changed to another location. Complete bs, of course, and the calls were traced to a Conservative Party phone number.
K-W is represented by Con MP Peter Braid. In 2008 he won the riding by just 17 votes.
His campaign manager Aaron Wudrick also works for Campaign Research Inc — this Campaign Research Inc. Braid paid the company “$19,210 to do automated dialing and voter identification” (h/t cultureguru) and hired one of their CEOs to be his Election Day Chair.
Two years prior to this, Braid, Wudrick, another Campaign Research founder named Richard Ciano (previously VP of the federal Conservatives and now president of the Ontario Con Party), and the 9th VP of the Ontario Con Party, Ryan O’Connor, were all off at a workshop hosted by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association and Preston Manning’s Manning Centre for Building Democracy . . .
And this is where things got just a tad . . . roguey.
(37:10) Aaron Lee-Wudrick : I say we, because, even though [Ryan O’Connor] was the forced neutral [as Student President] and me as the Tory president, it was all orchestrated obviously behind closed doors, and it actually worked out well because it looked like different groups of stakeholders, like I’m the outsider coming in, and you guys were just the responsible student government and we had other members of council, a guy he appointed to council, he got speaking rights but he wasn’t an elected member, but just as another voice at the table, it made it look like there were all kinds of different corners where in fact we were all on the same team.
(42:14) Aaron Lee-Wudrick: Campus Radicals for Action on Zimbabwe Yes, or something like that, they were a great shell group. Feel free to use Campus Coalition for Liberty, that’s ours so we have a logo and everything.
(50:05) Ryan O’Connor: When Aaron was doing the petition campaign, which “I knew nothing about;” I was printing them in my frickin office in student government, of course I knew about it, of course we were behind it, I couldn’t take a public position on that issue because although I wasn’t running for reelection, this was three months before the end of my mandate . . . if we had made them an issue, no Tory would ever get elected to student government again.
Ryan O’Connor: Sometimes you can’t attach the party’s name to something. You just can’t. If it’s a really controversial issue on campus or something that might show up in the newspaper, you want to be careful. You just have your shell organization and have the Campus Coalition for Liberty and two other Tory front groups which are front organizations, all of those groups might actually qualify for funding too.
Aaron Lee-Wudrick: Don’t think that the Party doesn’t like that, because they do. They’re things that will help the Party, but it looks like it’s an organically-grown organization and it just stimulated from the grassroots spontaneously. They love that stuff. And they don’t have to bear the burden of having any of it attached to their name.”
Ok, that lays out the “measure of responsibility” relationship pretty clearly, and here’s Steve yesterday to verify it:
“In this case, our party has no knowledge of these calls. It’s not part of our campaign.”
Number of ridings in the last election allegedly hit by fraudulent robocall campaigns so far: 27
Number of ridings giving Steve his majority: 14