ConCalls: RoboCall Boundary Edition #RoboCon 650 days and counting

Last week I got a robocall from “Chase Research” and listened to it all, taking notes when I realized it was a Conservative push-poll and would cause a scandal. I waited for the number to push to repeat the message or options, but pressing 9 just erroneously thanked me for responding, provided a contact phone number (306-993-2392) and hung up. I called the number to find out more, right away, and got a message that it was Chase Research and to leave a message, which I did. A friend’s place I was at an hour later also got the call while I was there. (Tried the number at 12:30pm today, and it immediately says I reached Chase Research and to leave a message, not disconnected as some media reports state {so they may be working with an alternate disconnected or wrong phone number, or it’s been reinstated since}.)

ADDED: Audio of their voice mail presently.

It referred to “drastic” changes to “traditional” riding boundaries and said the new way would pit “rural vs urban” against each other. After being negative about the situation, it asked for a yes or no option to the changes, or to have options repeated.

The next day I saw the SK media buzzing about it, so provided them with the phone number and notes from the call. The Conservatives federal ‘spox’ spokesperson DeLorey (who has graced the pages of my blog before for saying untrue things), lied about his party’s involvement in the call. He later admitted that the Conservatives were behind the call, and blamed his lie on having apparently been mislead himself due to miscommunication in their tightly centralized party.

I got a call from the Star Phoenix journalist doing the story, but I didn’t say what he was looking for to include in his story, so he quoted someone else who got the call. I stressed that boundary redrawing is a sideshow to real electoral reform such as proportional representation to replace First Past the Post. If non-Conservatives win the urban seats as expected, it still leaves SK disproportionally represented by Conservative MPs when the popular vote would have them winning much less power in the House. This partisan phone call was meant to interfere in the traditionally non-partisan process of riding boundary creation. Efforts to move them for partisan gain is called Gerrymandering and is not an ethical way to win an election.

There’s evidence suggesting that Chase Research is connected to the operator of RackNine that was at the centre of the Pierre Poutine robocalls. When NDP MP Martin said unkind things about RackNine, they sued him for millions of dollars. They are obviously nice, litigious guys. They happen to have an exclusive contact with Conservatives or Conservative approved parties. There are suggestions that they made calls for the Wild Rose Party (which Harper’s Conservatives are linked to). There’s presently no evidence that suggests RackNine’s head honcho Meier knew of Pierre Jones/Poutine’s evil scheme prior to being contacted by Elections Canada’s glacially slow, token investigation.

A little “Ha Ha!” goes out to the Conservatives who gloated about the Liberal MP from Guelph who got a $4900 CRTC fine for running a robocall that failed to identify who it really was from. The Pierre Poutine misdirection and misidentified robocalls have still not even prompted charges for the Conservatives behind that election fraud.

ADDED: Cathie talks about Conservative crime.

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Is it normal to wait 650 days for charges to be laid in a major criminal election fraud investigation that has narrowed suspects to fewer than 5 people in Guelph, and fewer than about 5 in Ottawa with system access required to delete/lose specific logs? Consider, citizens only have 30 days to complain of suspected crime coverups to the courts.

In Conservative Controlled Corrupt Canada, it’s Cromulent & Completely Crooked.

F-35: Don’t Need No Stinking Accountability

I am genuinely concerned that there is no viable alternative party for conservatives in Canada who have, to this point, put all of their eggs into the Harper basket(case) Conservative Party of Canada. It’s staggering, the amount of intellectual fortitude (dishonesty) it takes to justify the crimes, the lying, the harassment, and general bad-neighbourly things the Harper Conservatives have done to Canadians.

It must taste awful to have to claim that Stephen Harper is a sound fiscal manager, while there are indisputable lists everywhere showing how he’s not even close to such a title.

The Harper Cabinet is filled with liars, habitual ethics violators, and hypocrites. Cynics will say it’s always been this way, but it doesn’t have to be, with this group of distasteful, mean people ruling by fear, while simultaneously ^NOT fearing an early end to their own cushy jobs. “If you vote NDP, they’ll destroy the economy and you’ll lose your job,” can’t you hear the Info Alert emails spreading that line? “Strong, Stable, National Conservative Majority Government”? How many strong and stable people do you know who describe themselves that way? Isn’t it a bit like someone driving a Hummer or Corvette to compensate for, uh, intrinsic shortcomings?

There are so many millions of Canadians willing to put up with the abuse, but it really should stop. There are people without proper shelter, or enough food or hope, but the rail line is luxury travel these days, so good luck seeing a fruitful On To Ottawa march in the world’s second largest country. What will be the flashpoint of democratic change, if RoboCon and the F-35 $10B+ lie haven’t been it?

It’s been more than a month that many ministers of the government should have resigned or been fired in disgrace for openly lying to the House of Commons. What happens when mere commoners like you and I lie in court? For Conservative MPs, there is special treatment from the Speaker. If you find yourself on the stand entering your words into the public record, and are caught in a lie, see how far you get claiming it’s your constitutional right.

Has the media been pushed too far to accept the Harper government as acceptable, and even endorsement worthy? Still, it’s been months since RoboCon became widely known among well informed Canadians (like journalists), and still there is great hesitation in their papers and shows to identify Poutine, or mention that his scheme took place in only half a percent of the ridings affected by similar democracy-stealing crimes. That kind of forgiveness is really Christ-like. Maybe they’re all Christians before Canadians, or before journalists, or before people who want to live in a free country with a functioning democracy. Who among them are not cowards, or are edited by cowards?

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Engage

Last night I was having several parallel conversations online, all pertaining to civic engagement (or the lack of it, more precisely). What comes first, the politicians willing to interact with “commoners”, or an engaged electorate that participates in our democratic systems? I think citizens have to make the decision first, but they’d decide a lot faster if more politicians started to participate in daily life like taking public transit, biking to work, using the library, and volunteering for non-profit causes.

And if I’ve not overstressed WordPress’s Twitter embed feature, here’s another conversation on the subject:

RoboCon: Rough Week For Democracy

I know it’s going to be a rough week for the Conservatives, when there are election-levels of traffic coming to my blog for political information. I don’t know when I’ve had so many hundreds come through liblogs.ca, of all places, to my site. And that’s on the weekend! Canadians don’t care about politics on weekends outside of elections… or major scandals. What’s the scandal? Is it Vic Toews peeping at your ISP details? Vikileaks? Is it Poilievre driving through a Parliament checkpoint, vehicle unchecked? Nope, it’s the big one:

RoboCon, The Robocalls scandal in Canada, March 2012
Where some mysterious figure(s) named Pierre Poutine, with apparently the Conservative’s voter information database at their disposal, caught calling thousands (to tens or hundreds of thousands) of Canadians with illegal, fraudulent details of moving election polls on May 2, 2011.

Read the following in the context of Jean Chretien, and Adscam:

At worst, he personally ordered it done and chose the people who executed the plan. At the very least, he fostered an attitude within the party [...], chose the managers of the people who committed these crimes and completely and utterly failed to exercise any oversight, supervision or leadership.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter where [his] actions or lack of them fall on that scale. He is the leader and a leader is responsible for the actions of the people he leads.
If he had a right or honourable bone in his body, he’d admit that and resign immediately.
But what do we get?
Stephen Harper first claiming the Liberals did it and finally, if not in so many words, saying “Prove it, copper!”

Oh yeah, it’s not about Adscam, it’s about RoboCon. It could have been written about Adscam and Chretien by a Progressive Conservative, or a Reformer a decade ago. So, why is Harper getting a free pass from many True Blue Believers right now, when the Conservatives came to power on a supposed wave to sweep away Liberal staleness and corruption?

While taking Stephen Harper out to the woodshed wouldn’t do much to fix Canada’s democracy, the Green Party (smugly?) points out that Proportional Representation as an electoral system would have prevented this sort of nickel-and-diming voter suppression that the Conservatives are being linked to.

This other Woodshed is worth taking yourself to, however. The Rev explains exactly what is going on, and why Harper’s been rebuffed and refuted for his initial claims of non-involvement with Robocalls. As with Nixon (or Chretien for Adscam, to throw my more conservative readers a doggy biscuit), he’ll probably stay out of jail, but his reputation is forever tarnished. He wrote the blockquote above that I got you to read in a different context so you could easily see that he’s perfectly right.


Hat tip to Edstock at TGB

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And it’s easy to lose sight of all of the other scummy things going on in government, while the scummiest story’s bubbles start to pop and settle a little. How can we shift focus to those other events, without steering our 1-track-mind-media away from the bigger problem?

Chantal Hebert – liveblog at UofRegina

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Intro by Mitch D.
Then Rick Kleer
Last time she was here was 2004 when Martin won PM.

Journalists drank Regina out of white wine.

She broke a rib and got to cover an election from the ground, where most voters are anyway, giving her a better perspective.
Our new tools have built better silos. Sharing isn’t routine.
Background info from the govt is treated as FYEO (For Your Eyes Only).

140 char delivery is not delivering enough details to people. 30 seconds means 12 in radio. She’s had to edit some people down a bit so they sound effective, and to save her 8 seconds.

Rene Levesque was explaining a policy in detail once she recalls, and politicians don’t do that often anymore.

Layton didn’t produce a lot of memorable quotes prior to his deathbed letter filled with them.

Form response from government gives us “cones of silence”. A human can’t make themselves give detail-free form responses five or six times, but computers give us boring responses that people tune out.

She’s talking about media tech during Meech Lake. The TV was the best place to learn about a national debate. There was no great advantage to being in Manitoba or Newfoundland with only the politicians meeting there.

Ignatieff speaking at a rally in Quebec, talked about Harper barring attendees from his rallies. Some man told Hebert he wanted to hear about something the audience there cared about.
Twitter as a window into what people are interested in, is a distorted mirror.
“People on Twitter are junkies”.

People need to take to the streets still to finish the change started in cyberspace, like in Egypt for instance.

Not totally kidding, couldn’t use “prorogation” in news because it was too long.

Long form census scandal in July was surprising.

Nenshi in Calgary started at 1% in the polls. (Phone corrected Calgary to Calgarygrit – I must be a blogger.)

“Disconnected chattering class” is part of the problem.

Questions start. It’s unlikely that I will ask one this year.

Hebert likes a spin free environment. Know when they are going on holiday and ask them things when they have nothing going on. Know what they sound like when they are telling the truth. Each MP thinks what they are doing is in the public good.

Most politicians sound smarter when they are not in politics anymore. Party line is often a problem.

Twitter used to bounce stories off of it.

Election night publication law.
Elections Can may sue a lot of ordinary people. Voting isn’t like First Communion. BC might want to undo the damage done by voters in the East.

Municipal election lacks entertainment, except Toronto might object. She has a low interest in municipal politics these days.

Coverage of Ford is interesting in part because the cities are bigger than they once were, and many people vote for a mayor, as opposed for an MPP.

The nonConservative voters don’t have an easy way to win now that the Conservative party is united.

The Liberals and NDP are struggling for the same voters. Bruce Anderson argues the Liberals may come back as the spare wheel of Canadian politics. Minority govt is likely.
NDP and Liberals fight for the voters that Harper doesn’t want.

“We vote, and you don’t” is why govt talks about old age pensions instead of childcare.

Dan B. asks a question and starts out by mentioning that he isn’t a journalist. “Good” she said. (Too much competition in a field makes it harder to stay in a job anyway.)
Need healthy debate for healthy politics.
She votes as a citizen. Does a doctor like cancer more than cardiac arrest?
Vote as a parent to show your kids it is important.

ADDED:
Toward the end of the questions, someone wondered why OWS gets less coverage than he feels it deserves. She said OWS has unclear objectives, and doesn’t see the value in occupying public space. I found that odd, since earlier she praised youth in Egypt for taking their protest into the real world off of MySpace and Twitter. She thinks the ballot box is the way to make change happen, but also knows that her generation is more likely to continue to win, since it votes.

Another questioner was also disappointed by the answer they got regarding electoral reform. Hebert said voters and politicians don’t bring it up, so journalists shouldn’t. She neglected to mention that every political party uses methods other than FPTP to elect their party leader and/or executive. She did say that there is no voter appetite for PR or electoral reform. She thinks PR would work well federally though.

Radical Good Sense

The “Fight for Canada”, did not happen in 1812, since Canada did not exist as a nation for decades later in 1867. The Department of “Canadian Heritage” ought to be ashamed of its atrocious rewriting and dumbing down of Canadian history by calling the War of 1812 a fight for Canada. Who wants to bet that the winning Canada Day “1812: Fight for Canada” entry will have a Canadian flag on it, even though that flag didn’t come into being until 1965? Where historical accuracy loses to artistic license, that art becomes propaganda.

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The not-so Honourable Minister of Natural Resources has kicked up Harper’s attack on environmentalism. Fortunately there are some real journalists out there still to hold his feet to the pyre he’s hoping to toss us onto.

Creekside’s Alison has the hilarious transcript of our Minister acting like a jackass on air, being caught with the plain truth. If non-Canadians with money for the oil patch want to spread money around for political purposes, it’s fine, but if non-Canadians want to spend money with the idea of protecting humans from pollution, then they are radicals.

The Globe dug up a few of those local Canadian “radicals” who probably voted Conservative last election.

Mr. Oliver was quite forceful, warning that such groups “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.

There could not be a more hilarious case of an old pot calling a (stainless steel) kettle black. Oliver described the Conservative party’s corruption of our democracy to make radical ideological changes on their well known “secret” agenda (ending: CWB, gun registry, Insite, all without logic or facts to back up their position soundly).

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What I find amazing in this article is that an NDP leadership candidate is proposing something I proposed the NDP, Liberals, and Greens try before the next general election: joint nomination meetings for key disputed ridings. If only 30 of these are successful, that should give the Conservatives some measure of defeat in the 2015 election.

Note that the article headline would also be true if there were at least 15 ethical Conservatives left willing to put their country before their party, and vote as independents, apart from the Conservative caucus. Sadly “ethical” and “Conservative” do not belong in the same sentence anymore I fear.

I can’t find my original article with my idea when I first pitched it, but it may be prior or perhaps after this comment toward the end of the comment thread. It could have been after 2011’s election I brought it up, or maybe only on Facebook for some reason.

Basically the Liberals, NDP, and Greens would agree to run only one candidate, the most successful party at organizing the largest nominating group would run the respective candidate. That way each party gets a chance to run their candidate, and the vote splitting falls away long enough for election reform to pass.

Who Won in Wascana? The “Losers”

The non-voting bloc won. Or might I say, they almost certainly didn’t get what they wanted, or didn’t try for what they wanted.

The federal riding of Wascana is the only Liberal seat in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, and will probably remain that way for the next 5 years. The results of it are interesting, as are many of Canada’s 308 elections, because the non-voting adults could have singularly elected a different candidate without changing other voters’ votes.

Voter turnout: 38,777 of 57,034 registered electors (68.0%) = 18,257 non-voters
Liberal Ralph Goodale 15,842 40.9%
Conservative Ian Shields 14,292 36.9%
NDP Marc Spooner 7,689 19.8%
Green Party Bill Clary 954 2.5%

My critics may say, “Yeah, but Goodale [or insert your "winning" MP in place of his name] got the single most votes of those who ran.” My critics would technically be correct, but it’s also technically correct to say that he got the most votes of the available candidates, who all failed to suitably impress at least half of the electorate enough to mark an X beside his name.

As Stephen Harper said before the election campaign, “Losers don’t get to form coalitions“.


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Moore on CNN ; Media Failure ; Election Results

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Press freedom was a huge issue in Election 41, and when I was kindly asked by canada.com to write for the Real Agenda feature, I made media complicity in Conservative propaganda over the last few years and during the campaign, my top issue. Not surprisingly, the canada.com editor refused to publish it. Giving me another chance, I again gave examples of how the media was distorting the democratic outcome of the election through selective coverage or neglecting to point out lies by politicians. I also gave positive examples like Don Newman cornering Baird in his infamous 2008 lie about coalitions.

On my third try, after I was given the explicit reasons why my first two wouldn’t be published, I wrote about nuclear power, and energy strategy, was applauded for it, and then didn’t see it in print anyway. The campaign wound down and maybe they had too much work and not enough time to print everything? Those articles will come to you through my blog, and possibly independent media willing to publish them.

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6201 voters in select ridings in Canada gave the Conservative a majority government instead of a minority government. Yes, it was that close. Vote splitting had a big role in the outcome, so the parties on the centre to left, need to find a way for their competition to work out better next time. I’m tossing around the idea of each in a riding organizing their own rally, and the rally with the biggest number of attendees gets to run their candidate in a swing riding. After all, there is more than just the careers of politicians on the line.

The Sixth Estate is hoping Canadians will organize to come up with solutions to give the majority a majority say in governance.

Of eligible voters in May 2011,
24% … voted Conservative
13% … voted for an MP now in government
2% … voted for a Cabinet minister
0.1% … voted for Stephen Harper
Percentages will be updated pending final results from Elections Canada.

And the Christian Heritage Party and Marxist-Leninist Party each got about 0.1% of the popular vote. The Greens got 3.9% of the popular vote. One concern mentioned by many people who opposed the Greens being in the debates was that it was “one issue” or “fringe”, which is disproved by both its platform and its vastly higher turnout than the most well voted-for other new parties. If the criteria for debate were set at a previous electoral turnout of 0.5% of the popular vote, all minor parties except the Greens would still be excluded from the televised debates. For the record, it’s possible to have televised debates with most or all registered party leaders, but the professional media in this country is hijacked by consolidation, monopoly, and loss of relevant ethics.

Greens To Support Conservatives?

In Canada’s antique First Past The Post electoral system, smart people end up saying stupid things. Add to the list Peter’s claim, “I believe that every Green vote is, in effect, a vote for Stephen Harper.”
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I must admit, I’ve pondered a similar thought at times, but call it my mild partisanship, or possible mental retardation, but I really don’t believe that it’s an accurate assessment of the situation. Take the riding of Wascana as an example. If there was a safe seat for the Liberals in the west, this is it (and I just happen to live here). Pretend I lost my mental faculties and voted for Ralph Goodale instead of Bill Clary of the Greens on May 2nd. What result would that have? Would Peter’s claim be true? No. It would add $2 to the Green Party for next election, and Ralph would still get his seat. Assume 10 of my friends, and 10 of each of their friends did the same thing as me. Ralph would still get his seat. “But how?!” you puzzle incredulously. Because it’s my complete speculation that the overwhelming number of Green voters are first time voters. They aren’t flipping from the Liberals, or NDP, they haven’t voted before, period.

And the Greens are certainly not inspiring new Conservative voters, for one thing most Conservatives aren’t concerned about us taking votes from their candidates, or mounting enough of a total to challenge them directly either. If anything, they’re more complacent because they are resting their hopes on vote splitting that may not happen. It’s business as usual, for them, which describes their view of the environment too I might add.

By some coincidence Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, agrees with me:

Caller from Toronto asks about Vote Splitting. The caller knows people who are concerned.
Answer from May: Common fear among progressives, but they are forgetting that last electoral result wasn’t due to vote splitting (or even happened in spite of it). NDP strategy changed in 2006 to side with the Conservatives to destroy the Liberals. Greens being present changes party strategies. Last election the only party to increase voting base was the Greens. “Greens kept people in the process”[...]“asking people to vote for something they believe in”. “Holding the line between” a minority and Harper majority.

Harper hasn’t put Mulroney’s success in Quebec together, he can’t get a majority.

“A minority government is not a ‘win’ for the party with the most seats.” “The GG should be asking ALL the parties who is best to form government.”

A vote for the Greens, in many ridings, is certainly not a vote for Conservatives. Are there exceptions? Possibly, but they must be narrowly identified, and a careless brushstroke that paints “every” Green vote as Blue, only hurts our democracy as much as Stephen Harper already has. Don’t deprive the Greens of needed votes to bolster their legitimacy, instead encourage more of your progressive friends to vote for whichever party they support, and Get Out The Vote above all else so there are enough Liberals to form government with a few Green MPs in the backbenches.

And since I know Liberals are reading this, I should point out that there are seats in Saskatchewan that could go NDP instead of Conservative if every Liberal voter went with the NDP candidate instead (and vice versa). Put that into your thinking caps, and come up with a solution for the old parties to work with each other before we might regret the result on May 2nd. How can the progressive parties informally and actively assist each other in these vulnerable Conservative ridings? Progressive car pools to the polls? Release better platforms that immediately address FPTP electoral deficiency? What else?

A Bigger Election Picture

Canada is in a loveless marriage. That’s how Zach Bell sums up our political status – ready for divorce or reconciliation. The politicians and voters avoiding each other, hoping they don’t have to interact and can both go about their daily business. The kids are unhappy and want a new parent in charge, but have little say unless they go live with their uncle in Norway.
Halloween party 20101018_Pic036.jpg

I want to cover the coming election campaigns in a different way than I have in the past. It’s always been fun before, but not satisfying on some level because I don’t feel I have enough impact. I think most people don’t feel they have impact, and so they stay away from even trying. How can we empower people again? Is Electoral Reform simply “marriage counseling” and doomed to failure because the love left a long time ago?

I don’t think I’ll feel I’ve had enough impact on the country unless I convince a majority of my peers to care enough to vote. I seriously hope that doesn’t mean I have to lead the country, turn it into a terrible dictatorship, and thus inspire a popular rebellion like Egypt got. Don’t make me make you care about democracy!

How do we get off the electoral treadmill by peaceably connecting people with politics again?