I know, shock and horror, how could the Conservative Party of Canada have to resort to foul play to win an election when they are so obviously the paragons of all that is light and just and true in this world?
After the news broke last week that Elections Canada is investigating complaints from Guelph residents about receiving calls on Election Day in an apparent effort to dissuade Liberal voters from casting a ballot, the story broadened over the weekend. A company that did campaign work for Conservatives, including the prime minister, was linked to harassing or misleading automated phone calls received by voters in some 18 hotly contested ridings just prior to the May 2 election.
Bobbi Stewart, the NDP candidate from the Guelph riding at the centre of the controversy, has also come forward, saying her team also received complaints during the campaign.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said over the weekend dirty tricks are responsible for his party’s candidates losing in at least 27 ridings. Rae has called for an emergency debate in the House to discuss the issue. Both opposition parties have said the tactics, if proven, are akin to voter suppression.
NDP MP Pat Martin said he’s aware of at least 34 ridings that experienced similar tactics.
Martin also said last week the full-extent of the scam “will be enough to make Richard Nixon blush.”
Yeah, no kidding. I was surprised so many people would go for the Conservatives, and that voter turnout was so low on an election where people were about to hand the CPC a majority (of 39% of voters, out of ~60% of eligible voters actually casting votes, meaning something like 22% of the voting populace is somehow a majority mandate!). If it turns out that voter turnout was low because of robocalls and voter suppression tactics, this is nothing short of the murder of our democracy. Considering all the damage the Cons have done in their first year in majority and how much more they promise to do, I am not very optimistic about Canada any more. And it takes a lot to dissuade me from optimism.
Elizabeth May doesn’t mince words in identifying the problem, despite the Cons’ declaration of innocence.
“There’s a culture inside the Conservative Party that we’ve never really seen in Canadian politics. It’s a culture of win at all costs and the do whatever you have to win, just as long you don’t get caught.”
“It sounds kind of hokey, but it’s un-Canadian.”
Steve’s part of the story:
Stephen Thoms worked as a deputy returns officer on Election Day in Kitchener Centre, which was considered a crucial riding for the Conservatives to hold to achieve their majority.
Thoms said he had between 15 and 20 citizens approach him on May 2 to ask whether they were at the right polling station, saying they’d been called and told their polling stations had changed. He reported it to his supervisor, who said he’d already heard that a lot.
The riding is held by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, who could not be reached for comment.
“When it happened I kinda had this suspicious feeling, but we were so happy we weren’t going to make bones about it . . . we also weren’t supposed to be political so I wasn’t even going to talk to the person next to me about it,” Thoms said Saturday night. “Looking at it now, I’m fairly certain it happened at my station and it seems to be happening across the country.”
Thoms said that while, as political science graduate, he may hold ideological stances, “I have no interest in party politics.”
The only ideological stances I’ve known Steve to have are those predicated on evidence and his finely-tuned moral compass. If he’s excoriating the Conservatives it’s not because he’s a raving liberal with an ideological bent, like me. It’s because there’s actually something dirty going on.
The fact is, I’ve only become an ideological liberal because of bullshit like this. My actual political perspective is rather centrist when you dissect it; the problem is that the parties and the politics in this country are swinging way too far to the right in an effort to emulate all the worst aspects of the Republicans in the States, so any centrist looks like a raving liberal by comparison. I’ll take the label if it means being against the kind of bullshit fascist nonsense the Cons have implemented under Harper, and will continue to implement unabated for the next three-minimum years. Knowing that Harper has the ability and every reason to delay the election as long as possible in hopes of spinning things positively to prevent losing his majority government, til the mandated five-year period, I strongly suspect we’re in for at least four more years of this evisceration of everything that makes Canada great.
And even then, who knows whether the next election results will actually reflect the will of the people, now that Harper has brought the right wingers to realize that they can play dirty and get away with it? The pandora’s box has been opened. Canada has been transformed, for the worse, by a single man and his singularly un-Canadian vision.