Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Who profits from the robocalls investigation?

My recent Access to Information request revealed that Elections Canada has spent almost $780,000 chasing the fantasy that Conservatives robocalled Canadians into voting in the wrong places in the May 2011 federal election.


But despite such a ridiculous theory being disproven time and time again – by journalists, bloggers, and first-hand campaign staffers – Elections Canada continues to investigate.

There must be some driving force behind continuing this investigation even with such damming evidence that nothing illegal (besides the Liberals’ robocalls in Guelph, of course) actually took place.

In my previous post we learned that the Commissioner’s Office spent $192,203.48 on “Investigators’ Fees and Salaries.”  So who are these investigators?

John Dickson Professional Corp - no website, no contact information – billed over $113,000 as the largest investigator in the robocalls investigation

SH Neville and Associates - no website, no contact information – billed $18,270 to-date. Awarded a $78,444.35 contract from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

Raymond Lincourt and Associates – billed $39,617 to-date.  Awarded a $78,444.35 contract from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton - the only investigator with a website which offers a clear listing of their board of directors – billed $19,238 to-date.

7147660 Canada Inc – owned by Tom Ritchie – billed over $12,005 to-date.  Awarded a $78,444.35 contract from March 12, 2012 to March 31, 2013 which was then bumped to $102,174.35.

Al Mathews – the Elections Canada Investigator – has incurred $4,220 in investigation expenses beyond those listed elsewhere in my previous post (e.g. travel).  This is also beyond his normal salary.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission – billed $58,780.29.  Wait, the Nuclear Safety Commission?  In regards to misleading automated phone calls during a federal election?  Why?

And, the best for last: ACE Thouin Consultant Inc – owned by Andre Thouin – has billed over $33,284 for his investigative services in this matter.  He was awarded a $56,217.50 contract for October 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.   For 2011-12 he was awarded $76,273.87; on March 12, 2012 he was awarded $78,444.35; in 2010-2011, he was awarded a contract with Elections Canada worth $78,708.  Back in 2005-2006 he had a $23,075 contract with the RCMP.

Does the name Andre Thouin sound familiar?

Thouin is the same Elections Canada employee who led RCMP officials (and plenty of media) to Conservative Party headquarters to execute a search warrant regarding the “In and Out” debate.

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 But Thouin is not an employee of Elections Canada, rather an independent contractor.  He’s not listed as an employee on the federal government employee directory and he’s filed returns as an independent government contractor for the past several years.

Are you connecting the dots yet?  An independent contractor with a known history of dragging media into legal investigations - to Conservative headquarters for sensational propaganda shots - is now working for Elections Canada on an investigation into whether the Conservatives illegally robocalled Canadians.

In what other democracy would you throw an obviously partisan individual into the middle of an investigation that must remain neutral?  And then allow him to bill Canadians over $33,000, no less?

Could Elections Canada really not handle its own investigation?  It had to outsource one of the Commissioner's primary mandates to private firms who are anything but neutral?

Furthermore, how did Elections Canada a) decide on which contractors to hire; and b) how much those contractors would be paid, considering the robocalls investigation was not a foreseen Elections Canada expense?

And finally, why have the investigators all seemingly been given $78,444.35 contracts?  That's an odd number, don't you think?