Stephen Harper on Integrity: The Robocall Scandal

Julian Wolfe
June 2nd, 2013

What started as an isolated set of robocalls misdirecting voters in Guelph expanded to effect over 50 ridings as irregularities happened during the 2011 election campaign that gave the Conservatives their coveted majority. Did the Conservatives legitimately win the 2011 election campaign? Let’s take a look at the scandal from how it unfolded.

Many questions remain unanswered and Canadians, with good reason, are appalled by the developments of The Robocall Scandal. From the close ridings that swayed undemocratically to the damning affidavit of a former employee saying they were told to mislead voters to another voting site, this scandal exploded like fireworks and Harper’s Integrity took a real hit.

We all remember the 2006 campaign where then-Conservative candidate Stephen Harper promised government would conduct business differently. He said,

“There’s going to be a new code on Parliament Hill: bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison. If you behave unethically or dishonestly then do not expect a reward from this Prime Minister of Canada.”

However, this would prove to not be the case when former Conservatives were found responsible in a series of election irregularities in 2011.

Then, one thing led to another and the scandal started to unfold, becoming more damning with every piece of the puzzle that was released. It comes to question Harper’s record of integrity, one that was his central promise in 2006.

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Here is a timeline of how the events unfolded:

This timeline will be updated as events unfold and will link to articles with more details.

May 2, 2011

Voters in Guelph riding receive phone calls from an automated voice message saying:

“This is an automated message from Elections Canada. Due to a projected increase in voter turnout, your poll location has been changed. Your new voting location is at the Old Quebec Street Mall, at 55 Wyndham Street North. Once again, your new poll location is at the Old Quebec Street Mall, at 55 Wyndham Street North. If you have any questions, please call our hotline at 1-800-443-4456. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. (French version recorded in another woman’s voice follows.)”

For more details 

February 23, 2012

Allegations arise that non-Conservative voters got harassing and misleading robocalls in 2011 election. The phone calls are traced Racknine who managed nine ridings – including that of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
For more details

February 24, 2012

Conservatives fire Guelph campaign staffer Michael Sona.

February 25, 2012

Up to 29 ridings are effected by robocall scandal.
For more details

NDP researcher James Valcke has released images via his Twitter account which add more links between the Conservatives and Racknine President Matt Meier.
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Then-Liberal Interim Leader Bob Rae called for a full investigation and asked the speaker Andrew Scheer for an emergency debate.
For more details

February 26, 2012

Liberals and New Democrats gather a list of 34 ridings they believe to be effected by robocall scandal.

Fourteen ridings had close results between Conservative and opposition candidates.
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February 28, 2012

Up to 40 ridings are effected by robocall scandal.

The RCMP raid Racknine and look for evidence pertaining to robocall scandal.
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Speaker Andrew Scheer rejects then-Liberal Interim Leader Bob Rae’s request for an emergancy debate.
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March 3, 2012

Conservatives blame Liberals for robocall scandal.
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March 4, 2012

Four ridings effected by robocall scandal would return Liberal based on historic trends.
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Racknine files $5 million lawsuit on Pat Martin and NDP for defamation.
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Canadians protest in wake of robocall scandal. NDP MP Libby Davies calls for public inquiry.
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March 10, 2012

Conservatives blame Elections Canada for robocall scandal.
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Former Liberal MP Joe Volpe asks for full investigation in Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s riding Eglinton-Lawrence after CBC finds 2,700 fake names on voter list in the riding.
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March 12, 2012

Ipsos Reid poll finds Canadians want public inquiry into robocall scandal.
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Then-Liberal Interim Leader Bob Rae leads calls for public inquiry.
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March 13, 2012

Confusing robocalls sent from “Jeff” implicate Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro in the ongoing scandal.
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March 16, 2012

Elections Canada confirms 700 irregularities in 2011 election. The scandal then links to CMIS, Conservative database.
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Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro says misleading robocalls may have been mistakes.
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April 13, 2012

Former Responsive Marketing Group employee Annette Desgagne files affidavit stating, “I talked to many people all over Canada over the three days in advance of the election, reading from the change of address script.”
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April 19, 2012

Two ridings with irregularities found to have a helping hand from Republican firm Front Porch Strategies. The Conservatives hired the company for 14 ridings’ campaigns.
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A former employee at Responsive Marketing Group, hired by Conservatives, says employees were instructed to misdirect Northern Ontario voters.
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Election results of seven ridings being disputed in courts amid robocall scandal.
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May 6, 2012

Elections Canada finds same address for misleading robocalls and communications with Guelph Conservative campaign.
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May 19, 2012

Election results in Etobicoke Center nulled after court challenge brought forward by former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Conservative MP Ted Opitz given 8 days to appeal and take case to Supreme Court of Canada.
For more details

Up to 200 ridings are effected by robocall scandal.

May 28, 2012

Conservatives appeal ruling in Etobicoke Center and send the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
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June 23, 2012

NDP close committee hearings on Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s involvement with robocall scandal in spite against Liberals on the committee.
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June 30, 2012

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s campaign sent robocalls impersonating his Liberal opponent Jeff Leal.
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October 25, 2012

Supreme Court rules in favour of Conservative MP Ted Opitz in Etobicoke Center.

February 7, 2013

Conservative robocalls in Saskatchewan concerning boundary changes are linked to robocalls sent out in May 2011.
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March 31, 2013

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand warns the robocall scandal can repeat itself, offers recommendations to federal government.
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April 3, 2013

Elections Canada charges former Conservative staffer Michael Sona in robocall investigation.
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May 23, 2013

Federal Court rules fraud occurred in 2011 Election campaign, but didn’t annul results in six ridings.
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May 25, 2013

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand calls for crackdown on robocalls.
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June 4, 2013

Two Conservative MPs under fire for campaign expenses. Conservative MP Shelly Glover under investigation for robocalls in 2011 election.
For more details

June 7, 2013

NDP to defend the Conservative MPs that are under fire on Monday.
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June 12, 2013

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro speaks out about ongoing investigation into his election expenses.
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   Categories: Accountability, Conservative, Election, Featured, Harper, Integrity, Robocall Scandal

On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.

In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.

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