Déjà robo-vu

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Where did we hear this before? A politician is complaining that a rival used fake and misleading telephone calls to try and further the rival’s campaign.

This time, though, there’s a twist: it’s Tory versus Tory.

Calgary MP Rob Anders is battling for the Tory nomination in the riding of Calgary Signal Hill in the next federal election against some stiff competition: former provincial Tory cabinet minister Ron Liepart.

And Liepart says there are some familiar dirty tricks being played.

He says his supporters are receiving telephone calls that appear to be either from his campaign or from the Tory party itself, but when supporters call back the number that called them, they get straight through to the Anders campaign.

It’s like robocalls, minus the “robo.” In last election’s robocall scandal, voters who had been identified as not supporting Conservatives were contacted with fake automatic telephone calls purporting to be from Elections Canada. The calls told them their polling stations had been changed, and directed them to polling stations that didn’t exist. (Given the source this time, if the allegations are true, maybe we can just call them “Rob-o-calls.”)

And it’s an unsettling little internecine scandal, in part because you’d think that after the last election, political parties would be staying just about as far away from misleading telephone scams as they possible could.

Liepart has complained about the actions of the Anders campaign to both Elections Canada and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, asking them both to investigate.

“This is very serious stuff. You can’t impersonate somebody,” Liepert told the Ottawa Citizen Monday.

“What’s happened, I suspect, is that they got tired of being blasted or hung up on when they identified themselves as the Rob Anders campaign.”

The Citizen could not reach Anders for comment. It’s worth pointing out here that this riding is in the heart of Tory country. In some ways, it is the 2015 election campaign, because the winner of the Tory nomination is pretty much likely to win the seat in the next federal campaign.

It’s unfortunate to have to say this, but more and more, it looks like even picking up the phone to talk to representatives of your own member of Parliament should be taken with a grain of salt. The message seems to be that any behaviour is justifiable when you are seeking office, the end being worth of any number of illicit means.

Maybe the new rule should be that anyone on the other end of the phone — be they staccato robot or the most  persuasive of butter-voiced politicos — could just as easily be a liar as anything else.

At least that way, we’ll give the voices on the other end of the line every bit of credit they’ve earned.

Organizations: Tory, Elections Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Ottawa Citizen

Geographic location: Calgary Signal Hill

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Recent comments

  • "That the people might live!"
    March 26, 2014 - 07:45

    In the same meta-fashion that Robocop finally Bankrupted Detroit, robocalls have bankrupted Canada's Provincial Political Parties. The PPP I like to call them (all the same middlemen&middlewomen). "Hello, this is your Captain Speaking. You have won an all expenses paid cruise to Nassau, BHM" has turned me from ever vacationing in the Caribbean (ha!). Party-Line Zombie calls in this case, starved of brains, are also to be mocked. Have fun with them. Sure they are only keeping up with the banks. Shouldn't the PC party have their own bank? "Maybe the new rule..." I am fairly certain that most NFLDers have a version of this rule already imprinted in their skulls from JOEY, from KATHY, or one of the dozen or so other rare budgie birds that have tweeted us to fiscal destitution. Pretty Joey, pretty Kathy. We are above BEAKER CULTURE. HANG UP THE PHONE! Don't listen to them preen. Provincial (parochial) politics is hindering rural/urban co-operation and helping the rich/poor divide. Layoff this, layoff that. Layoff some of these Daedalus-like civil swervants who have hidden with a maze of their own making - hiding from real workadoo work to do. Aspiring middlemen&women the weatherings, the marryings...an so fotrh, so on ..what odds. make jokes :)"The most common saying one hears during the Lakota Sun Dance is "That the people might live!" This sentiment becomes the overriding reason for and purpose of this ceremony. Likewise, violations of the sacred become threatening to the whole community and not merely to the one who commits the error. The communitarian nature of Indian ceremonies represents a key distinction between Native American religious traditions and modern Euro-American New Age spirituality, with its emphasis on radical individualism. {BUDGIE BIRDS in CONFEDACAGES}