There’ve been several Canadian media organizations investigating the RoboCon election fraud scandal linked to the Conservative Party. In February, Postmedia broke the story by tying the many localized reports of misleading phonecalls together by unleashing details of the mysterious Pierre Poutine alias.
At that time they also reported there were emails from Elections Canada staff who were gravely concerned about the Conservatives’ misleading phone calls. The Conservatives attempted to explain this away as Get Out The Vote calls that went awry. That’s a claim that appears totally bogus.
Internal Elections Canada emails obtained under Access to Information legislation show officials were rattled by the calls.
At 11:06 a.m., election officer Anita Hawdur sent an email to to legal counsel Karen McNeil with the header: “URGENT Conservative campaign office communications with electors.” Hawdur reported that returning officers were calling to ask about the calls. McNeil responded by asking Hawdur to alert Rennie Molnar, the deputy chief electoral officer. He later emailed Michel Roussel, a senior director: “This one is far more serious. They have actually disrupted the voting process.”
Then, in November, CBC reported they recently obtained emails from Elections Canada which expressed grave concerns about a “scam” being run by the Conservative Party to mislead voters away from real election polls. The Conservatives’ lawyer eventually responded just prior to the polls opening, that there was no illegal activity going on. The illegal calls continued, as we now all know.
The reply from the party’s lawyer to Elections Canada more than a day later said that polling locations had changed in “a number of electoral districts.”
“As a consequence, a number of our candidates have had to confirm the proper location of polling stations to a number of supporters during their respective get out the vote efforts… There is no indication by the caller that the location may have changed, or words to that effect.
That answer from the lawyer presumed to be Hamilton, doesn’t jive.
In an email sent at 8:16 p.m. ET on April 29, 2011 — three days before voters were to cast their ballots — an official with Elections Canada said she was getting complaints that Conservative officials were communicating with voters to tell them that their polling stations had changed.
“Directions offered to one of the electors would take that person more than an hour and a half from the real location that according to her is a few minutes from her home,” Sylvie Jacmain wrote in French, putting “Strange situation” in the subject line of the email.
At 8:44 p.m., about half an hour after Jacmain’s email, another official replied that, according to the Conservative riding association in Saint-Boniface, the calls had come from party headquarters.
“It’s resolved, the local association communicated with the headquarters who made calls to people in Saint-Boniface following a split in the polling stations. Party headquarters stopped the calls following the request of the local association,” Sylvain Lortie wrote.
I’ve asked the journalists at Postmedia and the Ottawa Citizen to compare notes with the journalist(s) as CBC who obtained these Elections Canada emails through Access to Information requests. If Elections Canada provided different sets of emails for the same sort of request, there could be another scandal at hand. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation why the “scam” emails appeared lately instead of in February, however.
Looking at the meat of the emails a bit:
Some voters had recorded a phone number so they could try to trace the call.
“When these numbers are called, the voice message is recorded by the same person even though the numbers are different,” Anita Hawdur, the election official in charge of the voting process wrote in an email to one of Election Canada’s lawyers.
In another email, Hawdur said the polling stations “given out by the Conservative Party … are all wrong. Most of them are quite far away from the elector’s home and from the initial polling place that showed on their [voter identification card].”
Why did Elections Canada officers, with the power to write arrest warrants for people caught in the act of committing Election Act crimes, apparently accept the Conservatives’ claims that they weren’t behind the misleading calls when the source phone numbers distressed citizens were providing, led back to Conservative Party call centres’ voice mail?
This is getting pretty suspicious. The workers in the returning office think these people are running a scam.
-Anita Hawdur. Why Ms. Hawdur and Elections Canada weren’t able to immediately follow up that week with production orders and arrest warrants, is for a Royal Commission to work out. What can people do in the meantime, besides fume? The Council of Canadians may need your support in their court challenge. Your MP should also hear you’re still very concerned about the unpunished election fraud of last year. More “robocalls” public demonstrations must happen too, I suspect.