Sunday, February 26, 2012

Watch out! More anti-conservative fearmongering is on the way!

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald

The Opposition is at it again.  Ever-searching for the latest news to add to their “Harper is evil” message, the NDP and Liberals have grasped onto an issue and are sure to not let go anytime soon.  Liberal leader Bob Rae has already compared Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Richard Nixon, the United States President who resigned after his campaign workers broke into the Opposition’s campaign headquarters in search of dirt to be used in the campaign.

Forget for a minute that there is to-date no evidence that this issue involved Conservative Party leadership… Bob Rae wants to fearmonger and add to his “Harper is scary” portfolio.

In the recent federal election, a number of residents received calls from an automated voice message, claiming to be Elections Canada, and stating that their polling station had changed.  The National Post speculates that this “likely led to some voters giving up on voting,” although that remains to be substantiated.

After investigating, Elections Canada traced the calls to RackNine, a call centre based in Edmonton, Alberta.

How RackNine works is fairly straightforward.  A customer, paying by credit card, uploads his or her list of phone numbers to RackNine’s calling system.  Then the person records their call.  Finally, for a few cents per minute, RackNine’s automated system calls each number on the list with that automated message.

As a campaign worker in the election myself, I am the first to say that any form of voter suppression is despicable and not endorsed.  My hundreds of volunteer hours were committed to campaigning properly and ethically, with no sign of anyone acting inappropriately.  In fact, when Liberal signs were defaced during the campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Parliamentary Secretary, Pierre Poilievre, issued a scathing statement, condemning anyillegal or inappropriate actions during a campaign.  Jenni Byrne, the Conservative National Campaign Manager, also affirmed that the party ran “a clean and ethical campaign” and that anyone engaging in voter suppression outside the law should be prosecuted.

Lone behold, hours after the scandal broke, Michael Sona, a Conservative staffer in Eve Adams office, resigned.

But from where did this name originate?  I’ve yet to see.  The Globe and Mail only says “his name started circulating” and that he had resigned.  I’ve yet to see any statement that he left because of this issue, as opposed to simply changing offices or pursuing another job or an education.

But let’s forget this inconvenient fact for a minute.

There remains to this date no evidence that the Conservative Party’s leadership was in any way involved in these deceptive calls.

What’s really creepy about the timed release of information on RackNine, its CEO, and the Conservative staffer who resigned by the NDP.  Indeed, since this issue broke news there has been a near-constant stream of conveniently released Facebook statements, photos, and background information on each of these parties not readily available to the public.

Why are we not asking whether it was the NDP who made the robocalls through RackNine?

After all, the NDP, too, benefits from when the Liberal vote is suppressed, which is, according to the NDP, what these calls were intended to do.

So let’s summarize this issue: someone initiated phony calls in a few ridings.  Someone used RackNine, a service which has also been used by Conservatives.  Someone picked up that a young Conservative staffer had recently resigned from his office.

Poof: anti-conservative fear-mongering is born, when we should really be questioning what part, if any, both sides had to do with this despicable practice.

Give me a break!