Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Canada’s Harper government robocalls scandal similar to tactics from the George W. Bush days

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If in this political season you are feeling forlorn for the “good ol’ days” of George W. Bush, you might enjoy the latest political scandal of Canada.

The Conservative Party is being accused of incorporating one of the Bush’s team classic tactic of steering people away from voting, this time using robocalls to misinform where people are supposed to vote in the last federal election in 2011. The Conservatives in Canada are also accused of making calls pretending to be Liberal candidates (unethical) and Elections Canada representatives (illegal).

The Conservatives aren’t taking this lying down, accusing the Liberal Party of being behind the calls. A Conservative backbencher from Saskatchewan puts the blame on Elections Canada.

Robocalls are nothing new in U.S. politics, but they are geared mostly toward slamming fellow candidates. These robocall accusations go much further, dipping into pure deception. Elections Canada is now reviewing more than 31,000 reports of robocalls.

U.S. conservative tactics have involved flyers in minority neighborhoods, telling them that Election Day has changed to a later date or intimating threats of deportation for Hispanics who go to vote.

Elections Canada has more power than the U.S. Federal Election Commission, but is running into a problem of not having enough people to investigate the extensive number of complaints.

If my friends in Michigan are any indicator, robocalls are alive and well. But when they try to throw people off from their democratic (small d) voting rights, then someone should have to pay substantially. These are tactics that First World democracies write off as happening in Third World dictatorships. We have plenty of examples that this is and has been going on in the United States and Canada. The only question is what we’re going to do about it.

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