Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

It sounds like a chintzy little hangover from small-town politics: a team of Tory insiders tasked to do things like goosing media polling questions and blocking open-line shows with scripted talking points.

And it wouldn’t be complete without secret handshakes and nods. Those same insiders use an almost-untrackable messaging system on their BlackBerrys, a system that has the added advantage of being so far beyond the province’s access to information laws that its users, when asked point blank about their political trickery, can simply deny, deny, deny.

How unfortunate it must be, then, after The Telegram originally ran a story about poll-rigging and listened to government officials downplay the behaviour, to have a series of those PIN-to-PIN BlackBerry messages fall into The Telegram’s hands — not only showing how common the rigging actually is but also how directly Tories are using a structured system to tip online polls in their favour and co-ordinate the stacking of open-line shows.

It’s fascinating to see an elected provincial politician writing to other party members to say, “We are falling way behind on the CBC question. The computer is only allowing us to vote once. Obviously the opposition has found a way around this and we are also working on this.”

Disturbing to see that same MHA, Paul Lane, telling workers to use multiple computers or iPhones to vote multiple times.

It’s telling them that cheating is nothing less than their jobs: “This is a very important poll and we require nothing less than 100 per cent effort.”

Then, there’s the open-line shows. Regular

listeners already know that the same voices crop up over and over.


Apparently because it’s their turn.

“Another awesome week on open line,” Lane writes in another message. “Will be in touch with some of you in the next day or so to arrange a schedule for next week. ... I realize that this has been constant and I’m sure many of you are probably sick of these PINS, however this is very necessary to counter the political spin put forward by the Libs and particularly the THIRD party. These guys are hungry. We must be hungrier.”

The instructions extend to the positions to take, and the official party line the callers are to use.

Maybe it doesn’t change more than a vote or two. But every vote counts, after all.

There is a much larger issue here.

It’s interesting that when they were virtually certain they couldn’t be caught, our honourable politicians were so comfortable and willing to deny they were doing it. And that’s the bigger issue: fiddling with polls is unethical, for sure.

But engaging in deliberate and structured voter deception? That teeters a lot closer to fraud than it does to “politicians being politicians.”

Be ready for a bunch of phone calls to open-line shows saying that all of this is no big deal. Listen closely to the callers, though; the voices might be familiar.

Organizations: CBC

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Randy
    February 17, 2013 - 06:15

    Paul Lane's behavior is deceitful. He should resign in disgrace!

    • Mr.R
      February 18, 2013 - 00:58

      Forget the haters Paul.Ppl who whine & complain need to get a life!

  • Sam
    February 16, 2013 - 17:11

    Hardly a revelation!

  • Full Of KoolAid
    February 16, 2013 - 15:04

    I wouldn't expect anything less of paul lane. He's a back bencher with alot of time on his hands. He's a perfect example of what's wrong with the Dunderdale, want2be harper, conservatives. I shiver when I think that if this is what someone, such as paul lane, in such a low rank in this government is tasked and willing to do, Then what are the top ministers and their flunkys will to do? Pass a project like muskratfalls in hope of a future patronage position? How would we know if we didn't ask? They ain't going to tell us thats for sure. Bill c 29 made sure that, just like building a simple dam in labrador could be so complicated and we as a province who co-signed for it aren't even allowed to know. Enter Paul Lane!

  • Cyril Rogers
    February 16, 2013 - 14:40

    Seems like we have our own robocall scandal, except that it only tries to manipulate opinion and not the ability of voters to actually vote. Maybe, just maybe, the government(and the opposition parties)should be more concerned with what is right for all the people of the province, not just their cronies and the business elite. If they were, awful deals like Muskrat Falls would never have gone through!

  • Whatdoyouthink
    February 16, 2013 - 13:32

    Sounds like those guys are conspiring, but conspiracy doesn't exist , right?

  • B.
    February 16, 2013 - 13:24

    This article and the print article are poor. First of all, they fail to mention the fact that the Liberal Party also does this, but mainly, because of the irony. When a political party delivers a partisan message through the web, radio and social media, it is not voter deception. It is what people expect from a political party – influencing voter opinion to win elections. What people don’t expect however, is for the "unbiased media" to use its medium to sway the electorate one way or another. The news is supposed to be an unbiased representation of current events. That is not what we get from the Telegram. Virtually every article in the Telegram is sprinkled with a dash of Liberal bias. Russell Wangersky in particular enjoys giving us a dose of Liberal Gospel with every editorial he writes. While an editorial is meant to allow for opinion, how can anyone possibly trust the Telegram’s content? It is not a scandal when partisans click on unscientific web polls to make their party look good. It is a scandal however, when a newspaper editor and his staff use their positions of power to inculcate their readership with their own political bias, without ever disclosing it. That, in my opinion, teeters a lot closer to fraud than it does to “journalists being journalists”.

    • marilyn viscount
      February 16, 2013 - 18:47

      omg omg really you want us to believe what the pc goverment is telling us is true i am a senior with a lot time on my hands with no money to travel so our kids gave us computers guess what we surf web for news of what our goverment is doing some of my family are in there 80s and they want to know what will happen to there grandchilderan we are watching the news daily the tories are on there way out i would like to know what as tax payers how mush we give the goverment in taxes every year and what it cost to keep our govermeny in the style they think they are dew never mind our taxes but other taxes they receive also is all our tax dollers going to pay our pm mp and the rest of our govermeny the the seniors and the rest of canada are watching you we do need to deal with past crimes but right know let take whats happening now take care of the rest later i think if we kept our money in canada for 1 year we could see things changing needs to cut spending in house and get rid off all the dead wood then when we see you doing the jobs that you are paid to do with our tax dollars than maybe we will stay with this gov but you have to come a long long way to get our TRUST back

  • EDfromRED
    February 16, 2013 - 11:50

    I've been wondering why several of my comments on the VOCM news website have not been posted. I guess I did not have the secret PC Party password that allows propaganda to get put there ASAP. I guess that all the Government agency ads that are forever on their front page buys the right to dictate the opinions that get posted.

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 16, 2013 - 11:33

    If these two would put as much time into actually doing their job they may actually get to shine a ministers shoes someday.

  • Truthteller
    February 16, 2013 - 10:26

    I will be listening to hear this guy "Tony" who calls frequently!

  • Whaddaya At
    February 16, 2013 - 10:10

    I hit the mute button every time I hear the voice of Paul 'Bunyan' Lane, Minister of Open Line, and Steve 'Eagle Scout' Kent, Chief, BPD ( Brown Proboscis Division), Premier's Office. At least their cohorts pretend to be doing something; these two jokers have calluses on their thumbs from working their Crackberrys non-stop .God forbid that either of those two, mouths that walk, might someday be appointed to positions of authority and responsibility.

    • Wayne R Bennett
      February 16, 2013 - 10:47

      When I was at the 2010 PC Convention held in St. John's and I watched Steve Kent for hours on his two blackberries. He was not engaged in the convention nor with the voters from his district who sat at his table.

    • Eli
      February 16, 2013 - 15:14

      Keep in mind you and I are paying for those two "Crackerberries". Bloody paracites, but face it, politics is where the money is, crooked as it might be and these people love money.

  • Truthteller
    February 16, 2013 - 10:03

    Better yet, there'll be at least one moderator saying " all of this is no big deal."

  • Mark
    February 16, 2013 - 10:02