We have citizens across the country, who are now being awakened to the context of a certain phone call they may have received during the May federal election. They may have received harassing phone calls. They may have received calls misdirecting them to the wrong polling stations. They may have heard messages from persons impersonating Elections Canada. Those citizens have spoken up already, in many cases, but are also speaking up here and now as the robocall controversy gathers attention. People are genuinely concerned about the prospect of election fraud having occurred in Canada. There are investigations going on by Elections Canada with the assistance of the RCMP, in Guelph and now in Thunder Bay.
But what is our Prime Minister doing? Digging up research on Liberals.
It's not very good research it turns out. He and Del Mastro and Poilievre tried to argue that harassing phone calls Liberal supporters received were from Liberal hired call centres, specifically, one in the U.S. That would account for the North Dakota telephone area code some voters saw, aha! But look:
The Liberals, Harper said in the House, have said people got misleading phone calls from numbers in the United States.
"We've done some checking, Mr. Speaker. We've only found that in fact it was the Liberal Party that did source its phone calls from the United States. So I wonder if the reason the honourable leader of the Liberal Party will not in fact show us his evidence is it will point in fact that it was the Liberal Party that made these calls," he said.
But the counterattack backfired when Conservative MPs mixed up two companies with the same name.
Pierre Poilievre and Dean Del Mastro pointed in question period to Liberal candidates who, they said, used a company based in North Dakota to make calls soliciting support.
The confusion centred on three call companies with similar names, including Prime Contact Group, based in Canada, and Prime Contact Inc., based in North Dakota."We've done some checking," said Harper. Spending their time wisely, as always.
A spokesman for Prime Contact Inc. told CBC News that the company has never worked for a Canadian political party or candidate and is not affiliated in any way with Prime Contact Group.
Harper said a third company, First Contact, routed its calls through the U.S. A number of Liberal campaigns used First Contact for calls during the 2011 election and in at least one previous election.
But First Contact owner Mike O'Neill told the CBC's Dave Seglins last April that someone was "spoofing" First Contact's numbers — projecting a fake caller ID — to impersonate his company.
Think the Prime Minister needs some sleep, he, his helpers and his partisan ops shtick were looking very tired in the Commons today.
Update (11:45 p.m.): The National covers the above: