Have you heard that this is what we are dealing with?
That’s the way Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett has described the “robocall” scandal.
Now, let’s be clear, I said this on air since the story broke, if anyone is guilty of breaking the law and misdirecting voters – charge them. The law calls for fines of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in jail.
Give it to them.
But right now there is a wall of noise coming at all of us on this and allegations are flying from all sides.
Time to calm down and separate fact from fiction.
I’ve heard claims made in the House of Commons that the outcome of the election is in doubt over these robocalls.
That’s not what Elections Canada said in their post-mortem report.
I asked for a copy of the same access to information release that Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher of Post Media used for their original story on robocalls and claims that calls were made to redirect voters to new polling stations to vote, places where there were no voting booths.
Now while there is a mention of the much talked about incident in Guelph and we’ll get to that in a moment there is also this paragraph on page three of the document. I ask if you have seen this in any reports on this issue by Post Media or otherwise?
“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 final result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.”
The document goes on to describe misleading calls in Guelph and the fact that some activity is legal but seen as “unfair” by candidates.
I’m sure that McGregor and Maher have more information than this but I also wonder why they didn’t include those lines from Elections Canada? Nothing happened that would have changed the vote.
Another fascinating point is that the “robocall” issue takes up perhaps three pages of 190 pages released.
Most of the document describes problems at polling stations that have nothing to do with robocalls and everything to with incompetence by Elections Canada officials. Deputy Returning Officers and poll clerks not showing up, ballots and ballot boxes missing, a voting place shut down without notice while the guys went off to find something to eat.
The documents do show that Elections Canada was aware of problems in Guelph and calls that appear to be misdirecting voters. We all knew about that, they announced it on voting day.
The way this story is taking shape, though you would think there were dozens and dozens of ridings targeted.
Perhaps there were, and if so prosecute those responsible, but what it appears is going on is a pile on of any type of claim that calls were made.
Prank calls are now equated with these robocalls apparently made by Pierre Poutine of Separatist Street in Jolliet, Quebec.
The Conservatives have come out with their own list saying calls were made to their supporters in Mississauga, Winnipeg, Peterborough, Edmonton and elsewhere.
They say these calls came from opposition parties and were aimed at Conservative voters. Again, if there is proof, prosecute them.
But right now we have little proof compared to the size of the allegations. So before the entire Canadian public starts looking at the Canadian media as the boy who cried wolf, let’s calm down and await some evidence.
And that’s the Byline