Robocalls in Canada

Sometimes I think I live in a third world country. Or at least one where the powerful are so used to bending the law for each other that we’ve lost sight of equality. I love my nation; I lived in the U.S. for over twenty years but returned to my home country where, I hoped and believed, that freedom at least for me and my LGBTQ brethren, was better represented. That might be true, but our definitions and actions as far as maintaining democracy leave a lot to be desired. We seem to have a strangely tilted perspective on what it means to be “fair” and “just”.

Recently (our 2011 Federal Election) there was a robocall scandal, in which thousands of voters for two of our three federal parties were called and told that their voting stations had changed. These calls claimed to be from elections Canada, and some people believed them. The calls were “aimed at sending non-[party] voters to the wrong polling stations, thereby negating their vote”  (National Post, 2013) So, a “group of voters, backed by the Council of Canadians, challenged the MPs based on what the voters said was a pattern of voter harassment and misleading phone calls that sent some people to the wrong polling stations.” (CBC, 2013) In at least one of these ridings, the vote was separated by less than 700 votes. These voters believed that fraud had occurred, and that as a result the counts in the elections were not an accurate reflection of what voters had intended. They therefore hoped that the vote would be thrown out and another would be called. I don’t blame them.

I heard about this some months ago, and was interested in the results. I’m fascinated less by what was discovered… but by the ramifications of what was determined. It was found that fraud had happened, and that the database maintained by the party had been used to commit the fraud. So the results of the election are tainted. There is no question. Fraud was committed. But because they could not determine who had committed the fraud, no action is being taken. Because we can’t prove who did the tainting, we have to live with the tainted results. Although we know that the secure database of the party was used inappropriately, thee is no punishment.

[W]hile the fraudster used a [party] database to make the calls, “there is no evidence to indicate [it] was approved or condoned by the party.” (National Post, 2013) So the party benefited; they may have even won the election because of this fraud. But the party officials could not be proved to have condoned it. Some party supporter, somewhere, has been perfectly successful in this endeavor. We can all see the effect of his/her actions; we know that he messed with the election. From the sound of it, even if he/she were caught, the election results would stand. Sure the party says the results of the scandal were “negligible”, but the final results were pretty tight. Thousands were called; some of the margins of victory were in the hundreds. That does not sound “negligible” to me.

Indeed, “the record indicates that the stance taken by the respondent MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means.” (National Post, 2013) One would think that if they were really interested in making sure that the will of the Canadian people was maintained (rather than keeping their seats) the MPs would have been helpful in the investigation. But I guess they had too much to lose if the truth came out. Even if they didn’t commit the fraud, they wanted to benefit from it. Must be nice, to benefit from illegal dealings without fear of reprisals.

The ruling cleared the… party and its candidates of any effort to mislead voters, but said the most likely source of information used to make the misleading calls was the party’s CIMS database, accessed by ‘a person or persons currently unknown to this court.’” (Macleans, 2013) So they know that the database was used: their (supposedly) secure database was hacked by… someone… and used for their benefit. This shocks me: that just allowing such hacking in itself does not demand a response. I work with databases at the provincial level: we make enormous effort to make sure such data is not hacked. It rather offends me that a party that I do not support can store information about me, leak that data to others (okay: maybe not “leaked”… how about their security is sufficiently poor that it can be hacked into, which is not very different), that data can be used against me and that the party who did the collecting, the storing of personal data and a bad job of security gets no reprimand. This to me is the biggest issue. The judge knows that directly because of this loss of data, fraud occurred, but because he can’t figure out who did it, he leveled no punishment. The party is claiming it as a victory. And so they should: voters who did not agree with them have been silenced. That’s what they wanted, even if we can’t prove they were involved.

This entry was posted in Communication, geography, Politics, Popular Culture, Uncategorized, Values and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Robocalls in Canada

  1. Pingback: Being Ready for Anything | The Geographer's Corner

  2. Pingback: Robocall Addendum: And This is Justice? | The Geographer's Corner

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