Thursday, February 23, 2012

Harper denies: Not feelin' it

Update (6.25 p.m.) below.

Harper actually deigned to comment on the fraudulent robocall scandal:
“Our party has no knowledge of these calls. It’s not part of our campaign,” Mr. Harper told reporters on Thursday. “Obviously, if there is anyone who has done anything wrong, we will expect that they will face the full consequences of the law.”
His spin crowd or whoever is in on the daily public relations planning should tell him a few things.

First, when the integrity of the electoral process is being challenged by a report suggesting voter suppression connected to his party, some of us would like to see a little more outrage. He should feel free to modulate away from his everybody-go-to-sleep shtick. It's not good enough from a Canadian Prime Minister.

Second, I'm not feelin' the strong denial here. His statement reeks of mitigation. Not good.

Update (6:25 p.m.): Courtesy of Kady O'Malley, a list of the Conservative candidates who were clients of the call centre firm, Racknine. Note this entry in Stephen Harper's election expenses:
According to invoices submitted to Elections Canada posted by the NDP research office, there were also several payments to RackNine that do not show up in the list of direct campaign expenses:

Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest)
May 4, 2011 - $117.75 (GOTV campaign)

Lavar Payne (Medicine Hat)
May 4, 2011 - $26.01 .

According to the correspondence that the Harper campaign included with this invoice, this was related to a final GOTV phone blitz in "swing" ridings the weekend before the election. It appears that RackNine initially billed the full cost, which remains unknown, to the Conservative Party of Canada, which passed the cost onto participating campaigns -- including, in this case, that of the party leader.

It's worth noting that, in the attached emails, the Harper team member charged with handling the invoice initially seems unsure why the campaign is being asked to pay for the calls. Eventually, he decides to pay it, as they were apparently planning to charge the national campaign for a portion of "phone bank" costs, and didn't want to get into a "dispute" over $118.
A "GOTV phone blitz in "swing" ridings the weekend before the election?" Sounds like there will be a bit more for the PM to answer for on this. Maybe someone can move him off the use of the pronoun "our" in his statements on this to an "I" in future.