Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elections Canada investigates Conservatives redux

Big report by Postmedia last night: "Fraudulent election calls traced to Racknine Inc., an Edmonton firm with Tory links." Some of the details and then a few thoughts below:
Postmedia News and the Ottawa Citizen have found that Elections Canada traced the calls to Racknine Inc., a small Edmonton call centre that worked for the party’s national campaign and those of at least nine Conservative candidates, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own campaign in Calgary Southwest. There is no evidence that Harper’s campaign or any of the other candidates were involved in the calls.

Racknine says it was unaware its servers were being used for the fake calls.
On Racknine, the owner is quoted:
Meier and his company are co-operating fully with the probe, he said.

He said he knows whose account was used for the calls, but could not reveal the owner, because of client confidentiality and concerns about interfering with the investigation. He said it was someone “down East” — meaning Ontario or Quebec.

The RCMP’s role in the investigation is unclear but it appears the force is assisting Elections Canada. RCMP officers have approached the Conservative Party, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Intriguing quote:
“It seems [investigators] have identified somebody who did it, knowingly,” said one Conservative who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Elections Canada's comment:
Elections Canada spokesman John Enright said the commissioner does not comment on ongoing investigations but confirmed an investigation into “some complaints regarding unsolicited telephone calls in which a violation of the (Elections) Act may have occurred.”
Possibilities from this investigation:
If Mathews and the Commissioner of Canada Elections find evidence of wrongdoing over the bogus Elections Canada calls, the case could be referred to Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders, who would decide whether to lay charges.
It goes without saying, any corruption of the electoral process must be prosecuted vigorously, if the investigators find that they have a case. It should also be brought on a more timely basis than the prosecutions that came out of the in and out scandal. That case arose out of election spending transactions from the 2006 election. Yet charges were only laid in February 2011. The charges had a stale dated air about them that did not really serve the cause of justice being seen to be done.

The report also devotes some time to the fact that the Conservative party is conducting an internal investigation of their own. It reads as if the damage control brigades are already on the job. Let's not be too distracted by that effort.