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.