Robocall Scandal: It can happen again

Julian Wolfe
March 31st, 2013

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand warns that the robocall scandal that plagued the 2011 election with misleading phone calls is on track to be repeated if tough new rules and punishments are not put in place. Will this be the “tough on crime” Conservatives’ time to shine or yet another pitfall where they fall flat on their rhetoric?

“Given the time it takes for the parliamentary process to follow its due course, we need to act sooner than later on these matters,” Marc Mayrand said Thursday, a day after a report was released suggesting ways to prevent a repeat of the robocall scandal.

“My preference would be to have legislation in place by the end of 2014.”

The legislation Mayrand is referring to, in reference to the report, should create tough penalties for impersonating election officials, wider investigation powers and more privacy for voters.

“My fear is that we see a re-occurrence of issues that we saw in the last general election, that further undermined electors’ confidence and breeds disengagement and cynicism among electors,” Mayrand said.

Conservative Minister for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal said the government would consider the report’s recommendations.

However, let’s not forget that the investigation into the robocall scandal has focused primarily on the Conservative party who shrugged its existence, blamed the opposition, and lost sight of its tough on crime principles. Regardless who is responsible, a “tough on crime” government should not take accusations lightly and should be eager to jump on these kind of crimes to profess their innocence and remain consistent with their purpose on the national stage. The Conservatives did neither. They dodged accusations and gave off the vibe of guilt through their actions.

They shot down calls for a public inquiry and they maintain the fight against a full blown investigation. For a party that claims it was wrongly accused, the guilt couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated.

Here’s hoping the Conservatives finally live up to their rhetoric and start introducing tough measures to deal with electoral fraud, rather than treat their MPs mistakes as a bid for campaigning. As we look at Peter Penashue who recently resigned after receiving 28 illegal donations, we see a man with so little regret over his actions that not only is PM Harper supporting his bid for re-election, they are campaigning in Labrador way before a date for any byelection was even called. Imagine what the Conservatives would have said to a Liberal in 2005 who said that despite making a mistake, the minister delivered and should deserve a second chance – don’t forget the way the Conservatives condemned the Liberals for Sponsorship which is child’s play in comparison to election fraud.

What do you think of the Conservatives’ double standard on crime? Do you trust that they will live up to their rhetoric or is the Chief Electoral Officer’s concerns legitimate and will follow through?

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