Elections Canada warned the public not to trust any calls that claimed change of polling stations. The announcement was made on2nd May, 2011 by the election agency which went further to inform the public that the automated calls were not made by the agency.
The robocalls which mainly targeted the Liberal and NDP supporters gave misleading information to the public. The pranks and harassing calls asked voters to vote in other polling stations, claiming they were being made on behalf of a candidate.
Among the first people to report the prank calls to Elections Canada was Frank Valeriote, a Liberal candidate in Guelph, Ontario. The robocalls were common in Guelph and Thunder Bay where the people received automated calls or live calls with misleading and mischievous information.
Election Canada has evidence that the calls were from a number in Quebec which is no longer in use. The number is registered under a restaurant name in Guelph-Pierre Poutine. Further investigations indicate that the number was initially used to contact Racknine Inc.
Robocalls are legitimate methods of running campaigns in several countries including the USA. The robocalls are automated calls that help a candidate campaign by giving messages about the campaign and information that is relevant to the voter. However, if the service is used to give false and misleading information then it is declared illegal.
The conservatives agree that prank calls were made in Guelph, but the party did not have any role to play in the matter. On the other hand, the Liberal party and NDP believe that the ruling party may have used the robocalls to disrupt and mislead voters.
Even though, there is evidence that misleading and harassing calls were made to the public, there isn’t a clear indication of the effects. The strategies and tricks did not have a lot of influence on the 2011 election results because voter turnout was higher than the 2008 elections.
The ruling party i.e. the conservatives are not treating the issue as a matter of national interest instead they termed it as a lot of noise from the opposition. The conservatives choose to blame the opposition and Elections Canada. However, the ruling party should have involved itself actively to find the source and solution of the problem. In so doing, they would have convinced the public that they are interested in solving the issue. Before the issue is solved the conservatives do not have full consent of Canadian voters.
The Liberal and NDP may be blowing the matter out of context. Though there may be some truth in the issue, the rate at which people are reporting fraudulent calls may weaken the issue. Some people view the increase of reports as mischievous and exaggerated.
Elections Canada the agency with the responsibility of solving the issue is not reporting the process and how far the investigation has gone. The complaints submitted to the agency have not been investigated. No one is sure if Elections Canada has the capability and resources to resolve this issue. When Elections Canada offers the results of the investigation then the public will be satisfied with the elections results of 2011.
Racknine Inc. has offered to cooperate with Elections Canada in investigating the issue. This is because some parties had tried to disrupt elections using their service. With witnesses from Responsive Marketing Group inc. Elections Canada should collect all the necessary information from these groups to find the main culprits, and the reasons for their actions. Elections Canada and RCMP should work together to reach the bottom of this issue.
The conservatives cannot fully govern with the Canadians’ sanction if this issue is not resolved. It’s clear that the elections of 2011 were affected by misleading calls, and the matter has to be investigated. Therefore, without faith in elections there is no democracy.