Robocalls: The Movie

The movie trailer you have just seen ^ is for what looks to be a stunning Canadian documentary:

Election Day In Canada: The Rise of Voter Suppression

Documentary film maker Peter Smoczynski is on a road trip to promote and incidentally raise funds to complete this film in time for it to bee seen by as many Canadians as possible before the 2015 election.

Are you concerned about Canada’s democratic deficit?  if so, come to the Boardroom in the city of Waterloo’s historic Huether Hotel
come on out and meet the filmmaker:
May 21st, 2015
at 7:00pm

Fair Vote Canada WRC asks: Is Voter Suppression Here To Stay?  

Jim Harris at the Duke of Wellington
Jim Harris spoke about the Robocalls scandal to a Fair Vote Canada WRC gathering at the Duke of Wellington, on January 14th, 2013
Jim Harris
Jim Harris in Waterloo

Fair Vote Canada WRC hosted a Robocalls talk with Jim Harris in January 2013.

This year Fair Vote Canada Guelph hosted a Robocalls Town Hall where people reported on the “resolution” of this issue.

And yet the Federal Government response has been to pass the unfair “Fair Elections Act” which ultimately makes it easier to commit electoral fraud with impunity.

What is amazing to me is the deafening silence about this topic in the mainstream media.

I wonder how much that has to do with the vast sums of advertising dollars pouring in their coffers in an election year.

If not for the internet, in the form of blogs like the one in which Jim Harris helped break the Robocalls Scandal, alongside alternate media and social media that have helped inform Canadians, most of us would have no clue this had even happened.

Robocalls Town Hall in Guelph
FVC Guelph Robocalls Town Hall

And those who did know something about this egregious case of voter suppression would suffer under the mistaken belief that it only happened in Guelph and that Michael Sona was the only one involved

If you care about the future of democracy in Canada, please start talking about politics with your friends and neighbors.

Especially if you are reasonably sure they don’t vote.

Or even worse, if they do vote, but make all their decisions based on the information fed to them by the “mainstream.”

And if you’ve a few bucks to spare, perhaps you’ll kick in to support this very important documentary.  And help share this message on your social media.

Follow @EDayFilm on Twitter.

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Fair Elections Act

“In Canada, our problem isn't people voting more than once, it's people voting less than once.”

Elections Canada is the independent, non-partisan agency responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums. Once appointed by the House of Commons, the Chief Electoral Officer reports directly to Parliament and serves until retirement at age 65 or until he or she resigns.  She can only be removed from the position by the Governor General of Canada for cause in a process requiring a joint motion and majority vote in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

Elections Canada is charged with running fair elections. It provides the public with information about our election system, ensures eligible voters are registered and can vote, registers political parties, monitors election spending and helping adjust federal riding boundaries, and enforces election legislation.

Well, that’s what it did until now.

Yesterday, February 4th, 2014, was a bad day for Canada, when the Harper Government unveiled Bill C-23, the so-called “Fair Elections Act.”

Appointed in 2007, our current Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand was unanimously approved by the House of Commons in 2007.  [post script: every single Member of Parliament in every party, including Mr. Harper during the last Harper Government minority, supported the choice of Mark Mayrand. ] Throughout Mayrand’s term of office, there have been what seems an never ending list of electoral scandals, ranging from creative financing all the way up to the Robocalls.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Conservative Minister for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre was quoted as saying, “The referee should not be wearing a team jersey,” a clear indication the Harper Government feels Elections Canada has been unfairly targeting Conservatives.

And while Prime Minister Harper can’t remove Marc Mayrand from his job, it seems he can remove half of Elections Canada. It certainly looks like revenge to me.  My own opinion is that Elections Canada’s has been treating the Harper Government with kid gloves.

“The reason I doubt anything the Conservatives say on electoral matters is they have a proven track record of consistently cheating in elections,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said outside the Commons

“Huffington Post, Fair Elections Act: Changes Will Register Robocalls, Raise Spending Caps by Bruce Cheadle.

This law aims to crack down on voter fraud by making it harder for Canadians to vote. There are many good reasons for citizens eligible to vote to lack sufficient credentials. Not everyone has photo ID.  Wallets are stolen, people who have just moved often lack proof of residence. In the past, such situations could be overcome by having a voter with the correct credentials vouch for you. It is estimated that this change will prevent thousands of Canadians from voting. This change will hit the young and the homeless hardest.

There have been suggestions that this Law will create an independent Electoral Commissioner, but in reality, the Independent Commissioner exists already; they are simply moving him.  [post script: The current system protects the Election Commissioner and the process of policing the Elections Act from partisan interference.  Placing the Commissioner of Elections under the authority of the Public Prosecutor, who is himself a political party appointee, would appear to remove such protection.  If I am correct, this law will effectively remove any accountability in Canadian electoral law.]

The idea is supposed to be to hold those responsible for electoral fraud accountable.  But how are they planning to find these frauds? Well, it seems political parties engaging in Robocalls will be required to register and submit their scripts to the CRTC. This is voluntary registration is supposed to protect citizens from being deliberately disenfranchised by fraudulent robocalls that send them to non-existent polling stations.

If someone wants to commit robocall fraud, are they really going to turn themselves in to the CRTC ahead of time?   I think not.

The Green Party’s Democratic Reform Critic, Bruce Hyer, said,

If the Conservatives were serious about electoral reform, we would be talking about ending First Past the Post and introducing Proportional Representation, reforming our unelected and unaccountable Senate, and ending the practice of having party leaders sign off on candidates’ nomination forms.  Unlike Michael Chong’s important Reform Act, this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Image Credit
Elizabeth May by Mike Gifford released under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license
Plain Text: “In Canada, our problem isn’t people voting more than once, it’s people voting less than once.” ` Elizabeth May

Fair Vote Canada WRC presents @JimHarris on Robocalls

Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter

Transcript of FairVoteWRC Live Blog

“Robocalls: The Story So Far” panel discussion 7pm tonight at Duke of Wellington, 33 Erb St. E. !fairvote !YKF

Sharon Sommerville of @FairvoteWRC making introductions #Robocall

Simon Rowland not able to make it tonight, @JimHarris flying solo #Robocall

Q: Why is this issue important? @JimHarris: Since @PMHarper won his seat by 6000 votes, makes difference with #FPTP, #Robocall influence

Correction: @PMHarper won his *majority* by 6000 votes (not his seat) #Robocall

Elections Canada investigations are completely secret, unless someone is convicted; story broken by Post Media #Robocall

#Robocall is not just “dirty tricks”, it is Election Fraud

Guelph Green Party candidate’s wife received a #Robocall, sent volunteers to direct people back to correct polling station

@JimHarris’s article on #Robocall was most popular item on HuffPo for over a month

Typical commercial #Robocall gets maybe 3 complaints for 25,000 messages sent

@JimHarris finds it interesting that a “right-wing” paper like National Post would push back at Conservatives like this #Robocall

@JimHarris says: Considering the power of the PMO’s office, the #Robocall campaign had to be strategic, systemic, planned and orchestrated

“In and Out Scheme” was designed to circumvent election spending rules; move money to riding associations to obscure funding in 70 ridings

@JimHarris: There is no consequence to breaking the law #Robocall

To falsely pose as an official of Elections Canada is illegal, so no need to prove that people were prevented from voting #Robocall

Gentleman in the audience lives in Guelph, received #Robocall, looked out his window to see if the polling station was still open (it was)

Judicial Inquiry is public, has jail sentences. Elections Canada investigation is secret. We need a Judicial Inquiry on #Robocall

Four out of five parties want to get to the bottom of the #Robocall investigation, one party does not.

@JimHarris: The #Robocall rabbit hole goes very deep

Q: How do we keep the #Robocall issue alive? @JimHarris says: I have faith in Elections Canada and Canadians, but we need to keep pushing

@CouncilofCDNs launched a case for 7 ridings with fraudulent calls; but Government needed to launch independent Judicial Inquiry #Robocall

Q: Who is the individual that acted as false Elections Canada official? #Robocall company? Person who speaks the message? Person who pays?

It wasn’t only #Robocall messages, there were also telemarketers with live calls.

There were also harrassing calls, eg.calls made to Jewish districts on the Sabbath #Robocalls

You can win issues not on fact but how the debate is framed. Conservatives frame by saying few people affected, no adverse results #Robocall

How can we lobby for a Judicial Inquiry or making the Elections Canada investigation public? Petitions are only the first step #Robocall

Q: Who can be prosecuted? Elections Canada could prosecute anyone, anybody involved in the entire chain of events #Robocall

RCMP are also involved in the Elections Canada investigation. #Robocall

@CouncilofCDNs case is keeping this issue in the news; also FOI requests by journalists #Robocall

@JimHarris says: “Being here tonight lifts my spirits, and fuels my hope for democracy” #Robocall

@FairVoteWRC‘s #Robocall presentation with @JimHarris was live-microblogged by @BobJonkman
All content and data are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

[Editing note: To improve readability, the posts are displayed chronologically here. Also, I deleted two near duplicate posts (which were repeated due to missing #robocall hashtag) and included a factual correction made after the presentation directly following the post made in error.]
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