You are on page 1of 4

[First published in the Two Row Times (16 April 2014), http://www.tworowtimes.com/news/regional/law-andorder-mr-harper-first-lets-put-an-end-to-tory-election-fraud/.

The notes in the present version did not appear in


that text.]

[Index: Canadian politics, First Nations, electoral fraud]


[Date: April 2014]

Law and Order, Mr Harper?


First, Let's Put an End to Tory Election Fraud

Michael Keefer

The Harper Governmentas our Prime Minister modestly likes it to be called


has been showing its teeth during the past several years.
In 2011, though crime rates in Canada had been steadily declining, we were
presented with an omnibus crime bill, numbered C-10. Responding to a nonexistent crime
wave, this bill set about turning Canada into a prison state on the model of the US, with
measures including mandatory minimum sentences that legal experts guaranteed would
victimize the vulnerable, overwhelm the courts and legal aid systems, fill to overflowing
even the big new jails the government proposed to build, and increase the already
scandalous proportion of First Nations people behind bars.
Now we have another Bill C-10, the Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act, which
targets First Nations directly, offering a toxic recipe of kick-down-the-door-policing,
incarceration, economic stagnation, and welfare dependence. Both law-and-order bills
have been accompanied by government fear-mongeringincluding, in the present case, a
billboard campaign in major cities that blames gun violence on the illicit tobacco trade.
(This happens to be untrue, as a recent monograph by Professor Jean Daudelin of
Carleton University makes clear.)1
1 See Jean Daudelin, with Stephanie Soiffer and Jeff Willows, Border Integrity, Illicit Tobacco, and
Canada's Security (Ottawa: Macdonald-Laurier Institute, 2013), http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/wp-

In between the two Bill C-10s we've had Bill C-45, an omnibus bill that attacked
the land and resource base of First Nations, enabling the surrender of reserve lands
without majority support, stripping environmental protections from Canada's lakes and
rivers, and also, as environmental lawyer Jessica Clogg observes, defying the Supreme
Court's requirement that governments should engage honourably with First Nations over
land and resource decisions.2
Rammed through the House of Commons, with spin-doctoring and false
advertising substituted for the normal democratic procedure of careful study by
committees and full parliamentary debate, bills like these have been made possible by
one simple thing: the fact that in the election of May 2, 2011 Stephen Harper and his
party won majority-government status.
But here's another simple fact that Canadians have to confront: the Harper
Conservatives appear to have won that parliamentary majority by fraud.
* * *
Whenever he's asked a question in the House of Commons on the subject of the
so-called robocalls scandal of the 2011 election, Harper repeats the same mantra: We
know that one or two bad eggs sent out illegal phone calls in Guelph; we're keen to see
them punished; and any suggestion that the Conservative Party was to blame is a vicious
smear.
Mr Harper is not telling the truth.
There were in fact two campaigns of fraudulent phone calls in the 2011 election
both of them set in motion and coordinated, not by some rogue operative scarcely out of
short pants, but by an organization with national reach. That organization was the
Conservative Party.
The first set of fraudulent calls, which pretended to come from Liberal Party
content/uploads/2013/03/MLIBorder-Integrity-Illicit-Tobacco-Canadas-Security.pdf. Daudelin says that
present policies, which amount to focussed deterrence, with severe punishment of mixed smuggling
(involving drugs, guns, or people, along with tobacco), provide the most plausible explanation for the
remarkable absence of 'mixed smuggling' in CBSA and RCMP seizures (p. 27). See also Wayne K.
Spear, First Nations Need Tobacco More Than Harper's Law and Order, Huffington Post (20 February
2014), http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/wayne-k-spear/bill-c-10-first-nations_b_4820185.html.
2 An interview with Jessica Clogg is posted at West Coast Environmental Law (4 March 2013),
http://wcel.org/resources/environmental-law-alert/jessica-clogg-explains-bill-c-45-first-nations-rightsfipa.

offices, harassed Liberal supporters across Canada during the last two weeks of the
campaign: they woke people in the middle of the night, and pestered Christians on Easter
morning and Jews on the Sabbath. They were often rude, and sometimes racistand
there's little doubt that they contributed to the decline in Liberal support.
The second set of fraudulent calls began at the end of the campaign, first with
live-operator calls, and then with a surge of robocalls on May 1 and on election day, May
2. These calls gave opposition-party supporters false information about the location of
their polling stations, with the aim of suppressing opposition-party turnout; and the
robocalls claimed to be from Elections Canada.
On April 29, 2011, when complaints about these vote-suppression calls began
pouring in to its offices, Elections Canada knew that the Conservative Party was
responsible, because the live-operator calls included call-back numbers which led directly
to Conservative Party offices.
The fraudulent robocalls came from the same source. Early in 2012, a CBC
investigation and an Ekos Research poll found a pattern in which people who had
identified themselves to Conservative voter-identification callers as non-supporters
subsequently received vote-suppression calls. Because all information from voter-ID calls
goes straight into the Conservative Party's central database, known as the Constituent
Information Management System (CIMS), this was an indication that the fraudsters had
used CIMS nationwide.
In the riding of Guelphthe only one in which there has been anything
approaching a full investigationthe Conservative Party's central office has
acknowledged to Elections Canada that the CIMS list of non-Conservatives in Guelph
was used by Edmonton voice-broadcaster RackNine in sending out the infamous 'Pierre
Poutine' robocalls on the morning of election day. Elections Canada has evidence that a
team of five Guelph Conservatives had repeated surreptitious access both to CIMS and to
RackNine, and that one of them shared an IP address with 'Pierre Poutine', and Elections
Canada has a recording of a harassment call that the operatives sent to RackNine at the
end of the campaign but decided not to use.
* * *
What about the scale and impact of the fraud?
During our last federal election, Harper's Conservatives tried to cheat supporters

of opposition parties out of their right to vote with fraudulent phone callsmore than a
million of themthat were received by voters in 261 ridings across Canada. There's
strong evidence that this fraud tipped the balance in enough close races to give Harper his
parliamentary majority.
That raises urgent questions. What right does a ruling party that broke the law on
this scale have to ram its extremist legislation through parliament? What right do these
fraudsters have to lecture Canadians and First Nations people about law and order?