Sunday, March 04, 2012

RMG call centre in Gatineau used during election?

Noted from a report this week in Le Droit, three Ottawa area Conservative candidates also hired RMG during the May 2011 federal election:
Les campagnes de trois candidats conservateurs de la région d'Ottawa ont versé tout près de 30 000 $ à l'une des firmes de sollicitation téléphonique soupçonnées d'avoir effectué des appels frauduleux aux dernières élections fédérales, a appris LeDroit.

Royal Galipeau et Pierre Lemieux, réélus députés d'Ottawa-Orléans et de Glengarry-Prescott-Russell le 2 mai dernier, ont tous deux fait appel à l'entreprise Responsive Marketing Group (RMG) pendant la dernière campagne électorale, démontrent les rapports financiers remis par leurs organisations à Élections Canada. Le candidat du Parti conservateur dans Ottawa-Centre, Damian Kostantinakos, a lui aussi effectué deux paiements à RMG.

La campagne de Royal Galipeau a versé la somme de 15 000 $ à l'entreprise, qui se décrit comme étant « la plus grande firme » de sollicitation téléphonique à oeuvrer dans le domaine politique au pays, « travaillant exclusivement avec les campagnes se situant à la droite de l'échiquier politique ».

Cette entreprise, dont certains des bureaux sont établis à Gatineau, est soupçonnée d'avoir communiqué avec nombre de partisans libéraux et néo-démocrates, pour les dissuader d'aller voter ou encore pour leur indiquer à tort que leur bureau de scrutin avait changé d'endroit.
A few questions arising from this report...it mentions that there are RMG offices in Gatineau. Was the RMG call centre in Gatineau involved in the election on behalf of Conservative clients as well? Any others across the country?

Ottawa-Centre and Ottawa-Orleans are on the list of where calls have been reported. In Ottawa-Orleans, robocall impersonation of Elections Canada and misdirection of voters on election day in addition to fake callers misdirecting voters are alleged.

Also, it's interesting that there are a number of Conservatives across the country with neat $15,000 expenditures to RMG. See article above re Galipeau. In Quebec, 16/18 paid $15,000 (14 paid $15,000.01, 2 paid $15,000, so I'm ignoring the $0.01). In B.C., the amounts reported thus far vary, they paid more.

Recall that the in and out litigation (which is still on its way to the Supreme Court) established that local election expenses have to equate with value received:
"We agree, however, with the Judge and the CEOC that the amount reported for a candidate’s share of a pooled advertising expense cannot be arbitrary, or based solely upon the available room under each candidate’s spending limit, but must be reasonably related to the value of the benefits received."
Le Devoir's reporting this week (link above) raised specific questions about whether one candidate in particular had received value for his $15,000.01 (although the Conservatives very quickly denied). So when you see similar prices being paid to RMG by candidates across the country, similar questions come to mind.