Friday, December 21, 2012

RoboCon: RMG/Xentel/iMarketing Solutions revisited

Earlier this year the Cons' principal voter contact company Responsive Marketing Group came under heavy media scrutiny for
  •  its role as a partner in the Cons' CIMS data collection on Canadian voters used by 97 Con candidate campaigns in the last election,
  • allegations made by at least one former RMG call centre employee that their scripts were directing voters to the wrong polling stations, 
  • aggressive fundraising tactics for the Cons with pensioners, and
  • its merger with Xentel.

In March RMG put out a press release protesting the unfairness of being smeared by its association with Xentel, a company with a dodgy  robo/live call   history in both Canada and the US, that RMG had "acquired" two years earlier.
McMaher :
The company now operates under the umbrella of iMarketing Solutions Group. During the election campaign in the spring of 2011, the merged company was run by co-CEOs Michael Davis, formerly of RMG, and Michael Platz, formerly of Xentel 
As I wrote at the time, what was less clear was which company had acquired the other, with most news reports, like Bloomberg's Business Week for example, describing RMG as "a subsidiary of Xentel" and iMarketing Solutions as an "alternate name of Xentel".

Three weeks ago, iMarketing Solutions Group published its Canadian Stock Exchange Listing.
In the following excerpts, iMS is "The Company".
"On October 28, 2010, the shareholders of the Company approved a name change of the Company to iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. from Xentel DM Incorporated (“Xentel”) as an initial step in rebranding and reorganizing the operations. 
The Company merged with RMG on March 3, 2010. 
On behalf of political clients, the Company conducts direct tele-service contact with potential voters to assist in the assessment and evaluation of political and consumer attitudes.
The Company continues the practice of subcontracting some of its work.  This is done on a strategically selective basis where the subcontractor has superior data in a specific area and/or can execute the work on a more economical basis.    
Marketing List Rentals : The Company rents selected proprietary databases to not-for-profit organizations where they do not compete with our normal business activities. These databases are developed through our normal course of business. 

Re the CRTC's Do Not Call Lists, operated by Bell Canada :
A number of exemptions were made in the DNCL due to efforts of the Company and a group of diverse stakeholders. The following types of calls are exempt from using the DNCL:
(a) calls made by or for registered political campaigns, associations, candidates or persons seeking a political nomination,
(b) calls made to parties with whom the caller has an existing business relationship,
(c) calls made by or on behalf of a registered charity
(d) calls made for market research purposes
Throughout the report are numerous allusions to financial hardship with "substantial doubt that the Company will be able to continue as a going concern" without "access to additional financing".
Equipment purchases of $1,839,000 and $1,453,000 in 2010 and 2011 were "related mostly to the ongoing update of the Company’s dialing platform and information technologies".
The principals are making out ok though, with compensation packages of well over $½ million each  for Chairman Platz and President Winograd for 2010, not including their directors' fees.

David A. Winograd in Wisconsin was President of US operations of Xentel DM since 2003 - now President of iMarketing Solutions.
Michael Platz, Chairman, CEO, and "founder of the predecessor company Xentel", served as Co-Chief Executive Officer of iMS til Sept 2011 and Chairman til Jan. 2012. Now just a iMS director.
Andrew Langhorne, Mike Harris Voter Contact Director for 7 years and COO of RMG since Nov. 2006, now COO for iMS. 
Michael M. Davis, founder of RMG, is "Managing Director, Political"
Listed among iMS's 20 subsidiary companies like RMG and Xentel Inc - half of them Canadian and half US - is Stewart Braddick's Target Outreach for Republican campaigns.

Back in 2005, Sean Holman at Public Eye Online reported on a heavily loaded Xentel telemarketing poll leading up to the Vancouver civic elections. Their questions :
Number One: "The Vancouver Sun today says that the campaign is getting dirty and scare tactics are starting to fly. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"  
Two: "It says in the Sun that Jim Green left COPE in tatters and with a great big debt. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"  
And three: "Both Sam Sullivan and Jim Green are accusing each other of dirty tricks and negative campaigning. Does this make you more or less likely to vote?"
Xentel has merged with the Cons #1 voter marketing firm - working, as RMG puts it, "exclusively with right-of-centre campaigns ".  Does this make you more or less likely to vote?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Give a RoboCon barcode this Christmas

Are you tired of shlepping around the mall looking for a gift that will top that asteroid you had named after her last year?

This Christmas give that very special someone in your life the gift everyone across Canada is talking about ...
their own unique barcode in the Cons' CIMS data playbook.

Adopt a frowny/duh/smiley face just for her when you answer questions about Israel or the gun registry.

The CIMS Vote-O-Matic. It slices, it dices, it makes juliennefantino fries.
Operators are standing by.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RoboCon : Poutine made easy

Text : Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher
Presentation : Robert Cross
Ottawa Citizen

This excellent interactive visual has been around for a while but with 6 other ridings in court this week challenging election fraud, perhaps we could use a refresher on just how devious was the trail of deception from the diabolical Mr Poutine in Guelph. [h/t Toe at Bread 'n Roses]

Not mentioned in it is how undetermined staffers from the Con election campaign in Guelph came to share a Racknine browser session with Mr. Poutine at 2am on Election Day.

McMaher's liveblog of the day's proceedings here.

A couple of today's notable discrepancies ...

When Election Canada sent alarums about bogus phone calls re polling station changes to Con lawyer Arthur Hamilton 3 days before the election, Hamilton emailed in reply :
"A number of our candidates" have had to confirm polling station …"
 But it was actually RMG who made those calls on behalf of Con Party central.

Hamilton also stated today that Elections Canada never advised parties not to phone electors about polling station changes, however EC's May2 Election website states :
In response to an initial request from a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, the preliminary list of all election day polls was sent to all parties. Because a polling site can be replaced by another at the last minute, and to ensure that electors always have access to the most accurate information regarding their location, Elections Canada indicated to political parties that the list supplied should only be used for internal purposes and that parties should not direct electors to polling sites. Political parties were invited to refer electors to the Elections Canada Web site, their local Elections Canada office or their voter information card for locations, to prevent electors from being directed to incorrect polling sites. Some political parties did not comply with this request.
As noted at Saskboy's in comments, it seems more than a little odd that longtime Con Party  lawyer Arthur Hamilton is part of the case as well as the Cons' lawyer on the case.

Monday, December 10, 2012

RoboCon lawyers : It's all about Steve and money

... argued Con lawyer Arthur Hamilton today as he attempted to have the robo/live fraud calls case thrown out of Federal Court before it even begins.
Eight voters in 6 ridings, backed by the Council of Canadians, are asking the judge to overturn the election results in their ridings.

Shorter Arthur :
1) Council of Canadians doesn't like Steve.
2) The applicants' lawyer Steve Shrybman doesn't like Steve.
Therefore ... um ... I'm losing the legal argument here ...

Oh here we go : Pogge : You're only allowed to challenge an election result if you voted for the winner. 

Back in September, Arthur wanted the 8 voters to put up a $250,000 security deposit in order to get into court at all. Apparently in his view, defending democracy is a frivolous pursuit best left to people with a quarter of a million dollars to spare. 
Or as Judge Mosley asked him when he brought it up again today : "So we leave it to the wealthy?"
                                *cough* Court Challenges Program *cough*

Besides, continued shorter Arthur, the Council of Canadians stands to gain financially from backing this case, and from getting a brand new database of donors : "They're going to come out ahead." 
Thanks for the reminder, Arthur. Donate here.

Hamilton also unhappy that witness pollster Frank Graves of EKOS, whose statistical study on voter suppression is part of the applicants' case, donated $236 to Iggy or Rae or maybe the Libs but Graves' donation docs aren't clear which and neither is Graves.
Oh - brilliant witness credibility smackdown there, Arthur : Graves also donated to a Con candidate. 
Anyway, Arthur, please read Pogge again above.

So the election fraud case is all about Steve and money, according to Arthur so far.

I'm snagging all this live off twitter. 
To follow along at home :
CBC Laura Payton and Ottawa Citizen Liveblog

And a reminder of the 6 ridings represented in court here :

Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont. won by Con Jay Aspin by 18 votes
Yukon, won  by Con Ryan Leef by 132 votes
Elmwood-Transcona, Man., won by Con Lawrence Toet by 300 votes  
Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Sask., won by Con Kelly Block by 538 votes
Winnipeg South Centre, Man., won  by Con Joyce Bateman by 722 votes  
Vancouver Island North, B.C., won  by Con John Duncan by 1827 votes

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

RoboConduct Unbecoming : To Canada from North Dakota

3 days before polls opened in the last federal election, Elections Canada officials were using the word "scam" to describe election irregularities, making this statement from the EC commish throwing in the towel two weeks after the election even before any investigation is  begun all the more astonishing :

 Commissioner of Canada Elections May 16, 2011
"There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the integrity of the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the overall result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.
The investigation of complaints regarding web based conduct - particularly third party conduct - is difficult, time consuming and may be inconclusive. The same applies to telephone communications that flow through intermediaries and foreign call centres. Consequently, the dirty tricks complaints which definitely occurred may not be resolvable, if the conduct is illegal under the Act."
Foreign call centres.

Back in March, Dean Del Mastro gaffed when he mistakenly accused Liberal MP Joe Volpe's campaign of using a foreign call centre from "North Dakota’s 701 area code". 
Amusingly it turned out to be Del Mastro and 13 other Cons who used Ohio-based Republican call centre Front Porch Strategies to help win their 14 ridings.

So given that the Cons are prone to blaming others for what they themselves get up to, let's have a look at just where North Dakota showed up in our last election.

There's the now famous "Idiot, he can hear us" call from North Dakota directing a Winnipeg Centre voter to the wrong polling station. The voter recalled overhearing "people discussing voters in Ontario, particularly Guelph and Thunder Bay."

Liberal MP Joe Volpe asked Elections Canada to formally investigate reports that residents in his Eglinton-Lawrence riding were being harassed by repeated calls from someone with a North Dakota phone number claiming to represent his campaign. 

Kingston Ontario residents reported being woken up at 2am by callers claiming to be from the Liberal Party, ditto calls on Easter Sunday, and being sent to the wrong polling station. Some of these calls were traced to a North Dakota calling centre.

Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra said “several” supporters in her riding got late-night calls from people purporting to be Liberals who were “harassing and rude.” The calls came from a number in North Dakota.

London West candidate Doug Ferguson reported calls from Florida and the Dakotas " repeatedly asking them to take Liberal lawn signs. Also on election day, we had calls from people saying they'd received calls saying the polls had been moved."

The Barrie Liberal campaign office reported complaints about calls at 11:30 at night and 6:30am purporting to come from the Liberal Party. Call*69 showed the call came from South Dakota.
Lib MP Mr. Wilfert’s campaign office in Richmond Hill received an automated message two days before the election, showing a number from North Dakota. 
Voters in Ottawa-Orleans reported live calls and robocalls - rude, late at night,claiming to be from the Liberal Party - from North Dakota and Montana. 
Well you get the idea.
800 notes lists over a thousand complaints about North Dakota phone number 701-509-8703 - mostly to do with credit card scams and phishing. Two thirds down page one is this one dated Mar 27 2011 (h/t commenter Lexy at Sixth Estate) : 

followed up on April 14 by a concerned Andrew Gill campaign person asking for more info.

Liberal candidate Andrew Gill ran against Con MP Rick Dykstra in St Catherines in the last election.
“We had a ton of people call in during the campaign saying they got harassing phone calls all hours of the day and night,” Andrew Gill said, “over-the-top aggressive” calls“The way we took it is they were trying to make our campaign look bad.”

Mr. Dykstra, now Parliamentary Secretary to Jason Kenney, has been mentioned on Creekside before in connection with rw US Republican robocallers Front Porch Strategies doing doorknocking for him in his riding, as well as his campaign manager joining FPS as the Canada-US liaison. 

Which is I think where we came in.

Poodling up on the world stage

I rather take exception to Glenn Greenwald's characterization of Canada in yesterday's Guardian as the US's "new rightwing poodle to the north".

Sure, we joined the U.S., Israel, and 7 other nations  to oppose upgrading the UN observer status of the Palestinian Authority from "entity" to "non-member state".

And yes, we stood on an even smaller world stage this week with the US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau in voting against UN inspection of Israel's nuclear program - 174 to 6. 

But hey, when Israel announced it would "punish" the Palestinians for the UN vote by approving 3,000 more settlements, Canada made a point of declining to join the US in making a frowny face about it. 

So there. 

h/t West End Bob

Friday, November 30, 2012

RoboConch! We're not in Guelph anymore, Robo

In August Elections Canada updated the total number of misleading phone call complaints in the last federal election to 1,394 complaints, alleging specific instances from people in 234  of Canada’s 308 federal ridings

Now we get some concrete evidence. Elections Canada obtained phone records from Shaw and Videotron to verify complaints in 56 separate ridings across Ontario, BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. They were released to lawyers in Federal Court yesterday.
1,043 complaints are from voters who say they were directed to a wrong polling station by callers, 625 of them from live or recorded callers “claiming to emanate from Elections Canada.” 
And that's just from two phone service providers.
The new docs from outside Guelph, before and on May 2, detail a widespread vote suppression campaign : mostly robo and live callers pretending to be from EC as they direct people to wrong or non-existent polling stations, pretending to be the NDP phoning people up several times in a night between 2 and 5am, and rude canvassing from fake Liberals. 

Also in August we heard from McMaher that brand new EC Commissioner Yves Côté "declined to hand over robocalls investigation data to Federal Court", citing that it would "encroach upon the public interest".

So how come their big data release yesterday?
Well ...Council of Canadians posted last week's correspondence between EC and Steve Shrybman, lawyer for the plaintiffs in the six contested ridings. [Page 70]
Feel free to add Christopher Walken/Danny DeVito voices as you read my shorter version :
Shrybman : Yo, EC!  Those docs I asked for - the Guelph stuff with Allan Mathews' sworn statements - where are they? The ones the Con respondents say are inadmissible and all just hearsay. 
EC : It is all just hearsay. 
Shrybman : Sorry to hear you feel that way. I guess we'll just have to get Mathews on the stand to swear it isn't hearsay. Yeah, that way we can ask him a few more questions while we're at it.  
EC : Uh ... hey guess what! - we just scored these brand new docs for you today! 
Shrybman : Real nice doing business with you, EC.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Steve : "Who wants pie?"

Another massive majority win for the Canadian Non-voting Party in by-elections this week.

"We were a bit worried that election fraud, selling Canadian resources off to China, and turning the Canadian government into an branch office of the tar sands would galvanize non-Con voters," explained a Non-voting spokesnobody, "but it turns out that feeling powerless and disenfranchised is still a winning combination for us."

Good thing they only use their awesome power for good, huh?

Alice crunches the numbers.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

RoboConjob Disclaimer : No voters were harmed in the making of this election fraud

McMaher and CBC's Terry Milewski report on this week's  release of internal emails between an alarmed Elections Canada and a stonewalling Con Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton.
Turns out EC officials' were reporting on a robocall "scam" in a "dozen ridings" across "at least 6 provinces", starting three days before the last election.
Four months later Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand was still publicly referring to them as "crank calls".

Milewski :
"Ever since the scandal broke, the Conservative line has been it was just a rogue operation in one riding, in Guelph of course, and that otherwise they ran a clean and ethical campaign. So no systematic campaign by the central party as a whole - that's the point of their position."
However ...
"Elections Canada kept track of the complainants' caller ID of the people who phoned in saying : hey I'm getting these crazy calls - what's going on?
Check your caller ID - what's the number? Where did these calls come from?
And they called those numbers -the whole list of them all over the country, different area codes, all over - and guess what? The same voice was on the voicemail of all of them which said : " Thank you for calling the Conservative Party."
So all of that suggests that this was not one rogue operation in Guelph but it was a wider scheme to suppress votes."

Uh oh. Time for a new Con defence position :

No evidence anyone failed to vote due to misleading calls, say the 6 Con MPs facing a separate legal challenge to their respective election victories

The Cons have apparently given up claiming innocence in election fraud and are now just going with  "no harm, no foul"- an illegal move ignored by the ref because in his opinion it didn't change the outcome of the play.

Now here's "no harm no foul" again - this time from the Commissioner of Elections Canada when he dismissed the complaint that US rightwing Front Porch Strategies violated the Non-interference by Foreigners clause of the Canada Elections Act when they went door-knocking and manned phonebanks in a Canadian campaign office.

After stating that it's just too darn difficult to investigate voter interference by foreigners because they're foreigners, the Commissioner concluded :
"No complaint to this office provided a basis to believe that any elector was actually induced or affected in their voting behavior due to the activity complained of. It is the Commissioner's view that ... it is not in the public interest to pursue this further."
No harm, no foul ever, apparently, in the case of foreign interference.

RoboCon Pilot Project Flashback : Environmentalist Briony Penn lost the 2008 election when taped robocalls advised Saanich Gulf Islanders on the eve of the election to vote for a candidate who had very publicly dropped out 3 weeks earlier. Seems 3700 voters did just that, likely throwing the election to Con MP Gary Lunn who consequently won by a 2,625 vote margin.

Ok, some harm there for sure, huh? Definitely a foul.
Wait for it ...

Elections Canada stated it had "…found no one who had actually been influenced in their vote because of the purported telephone call, nor was he [the Elections Canada representative] able to identify the source or the person or persons who actually made the calls."

Penn :
Our riding association and the citizens’ groups continued to push Elections Canada for over a year. My last personal email inquiry elicited this response in March of 2010: "In this case, this Office examined thoroughly the complaints received and advised the complainants that there is no evidence that the Canada Elections Act has been contravened."
No harm, no foul, another big dollup of we-couldn't-figure-it-out-so-screw-it, and hence no mention of it in the Elections Canada 2008 report.

Democracy Watch would like to know what happened in 3,000 other rulings EC has made over the last 15 years and they have a letter and petition calling for "a law to stop false election robocalls and strengthen election law enforcement".
As Pogge says : only 56000 signatures? That's the best we can do?


Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Despite yesterday's somewhat dampening headline : Pierre Poutine robocalls trail goes cold in Saskatchewan, the main story here is not that Elections Canada's Al Mathews was unable to secure phone records from a proxy server company in Saskatchewan a whole freakin year after the fraudulent election calls were made.

No, the main story is :
Why did someone in the Guelph Con campaign - who would normally call RackNine to set up legit campaign robocalls directly via their Rogers IP- feel the need to use a proxy server to hide their ID at all?

Why did Guelph and Poutine both use the proxy server IP and the Rogers IP from the same computer to call RackNine for two days prior to the election?

Why did Guelph and Poutine both call RackNine from the same IP address via that proxy server exactly four minutes apart at 4am in the morning on election day? First Poutine, then Guelph deputy campaign manager Andrew Prescott.

Why is one of the three CIMS reports downloaded by Andrew Prescott - phone numbers identifying supporters and non-supporters - now missing from CIMS?

How did Poutine manage to crack the Guelph CIMS database in order to upload a list of 6,738 phone numbers to RackNine to send voters to the wrong polling stations?

And the biggie : Is Prescott, who has cancelled further interviews with Elections Canada, 'Poutine' or is he being framed or is he merely the tip of a previously unsuspected and ongoing elections fraud iceberg in 200 ridings across Canada? 

And so on and so on. The trail is not so much 'cold' as overwhelming.
A Tale of a Boy and his TV Show is doing a breakdown of the RoboCon stories one by one. Good resource.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Baird enters the Iran got nukes! office pool

Baird says Iran could build nuclear bomb within months screams the CBC headline over Evan Solomon interviewing John Baird under a giant picture of visiting Israel PM Shimon Peres.

Fans of the Iran got nukes! cry wolf sweepstakes will recall both Peres and Netanyahu predicted in 1992 that Iran would have nuclear warheads by 1999, 1992 also being the year a former Mossad official advised "Iran has to be identified as Enemy No.1"

"Remember," said former IDF Chief of Strategic Planning Shlomo Brom in 2004 (page 167):
"the Iranians are always five to seven years from the bomb. Time passes but they’re always five to seven years from the bomb."
Juan Cole lists his top four Iran got nukes! predictions in the 90's from a longer list at Christian Science Monitor, which notes that the alarums predate the 1979 Islamic revolution to a time when the US, Germany and France were selling 20 nuclear reactors to Iran.
Wide Asleep in America has a more extensive list beginning in 1984.
Boris : "Baird also won't talk about why Iran might want to develop a threshold capacity for nuclear weapons for regional strategic reasons."
Let's go to the map, shall we?

Friday, May 04, 2012

RoboCon : Cross-border election shopping

A Republican operative convicted of perpetrating election phone fraud for the Republican National Committee told interviewer Stephen Maher that "fraudulent calls in the last Canadian election are likely an American import" and a "fairly sophisticated operation".

Allen Raymond wrote a book about his stint as a GOP dirty trickster called How to Rig an Election in which he explains the use of tactics like phone jamming political opponents - hey, did Elections Canada ever investigate the over 10,000 phone jamming calls used to disrupt the NDP's online leadership vote this year ? - as well as harassment live calls intended to discourage opponents from voting at all. 

Raymond says he was approached for the illegal phone work by an RNC field director he knew called Jim Tobin, a regional chairman of George Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
The RNC spent years and millions of dollars defending Tobin through umpteen court cases and appeals to choke off the flow of election fraud charges at just Raymond. When Raymond realized he was going under the bus alone, he talked.

Today the Ottawa Citizen and the G&M both report Elections Canada has confirmed 'Pierre Poutine' launched his fraudulent robocalls from the Guelph Con campaign election office.
Stephen Maher explains on CTV here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

RoboCon : A history lesson

Four years ago CBC's Keith Boag did this piece on voter data-gathering and microtargeting, including a look at the Cons' CIMS database and cameos from Michael Geist and Con-turned-Lib MP Garth Turner.

Much more interesting now, isn't it?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

RoboCon : Margin of Victory Voter Fraud

As a follow up to my earlier chart showing Steve's Margin of Victory in ridings with the closest vote margins, I've adjusted it to include only the seven being contested in Federal Court for voter fraud and added two columns of polling data from an EKOS research paper based on a recent phone survey of 4,797 voters. It compares 106 ridings where there were no reports of suspicious activity to the seven ridings where there was a lot - election phone calls made to voters to identify who they intended to vote for followed up by a call falsely telling them their polling station had moved.
Only one of them - Vancouver Island North - had an actual polling station change.

So according to the Ekos poll, if you lived in Winnipeg South Centre, for example, where the Cons took the riding by only 1.8% of the vote, you had a 71% chance of getting a phone call asking you who you were going to vote for. And if you subsequently got a follow-up call regarding polling stations, you had a 30% chance of being told your polling station had changed even though it hadn't.

If however you lived in one of the 106 other ridings used as a control group, you had a 44 % chance of being asked your voting intention and only a 14.7% chance of later being given false polling station info.

From Council of Canadians, who commissioned the EKOS poll and are supporting the court actions :

Other key findings across all seven ridings:
  • 16.9% of eligible voters received calls related to polling stations. Of those, 22.3% were told of polling station location changes (amounting to 3.77% of eligible voters).
  • Of those who were told of polling station changes, the voter intentions were as follows: Liberals 32.6%, Greens 28%, NDP 25.6%, and Conservatives 10%.
  • 42.5% of eligible voters who received calls related to polling stations had a call claiming to be from Elections Canada.
And I can already feel a chilly if friendly wind blowing from the infinitely more rigorous Alice Funke at Pundits' Guide who would never mix up apples and hand grenades like this in the same chart - adding a polling sample onto Elections Canada Official Voting Results.
But if the EKOS poll is accurate, then up to 15% of the vote in those seven closest vote margin ridings -some 50,000 people - received phone calls deliberately intended to suppress the non-Steve vote.

Here's one to a couple in Nipissing-Timiskaming - margin of victory : 18 votes.
During the campaign, Hearst received a voter-identification call from the Conservatives, to which she responded negatively. On election day, after he had voted, Ferance, 66, received a call from a 647 area code — in Toronto — that claimed to be from Elections Canada, telling him that his polling station had moved to a location about 20 kilometres away. 
"I said to him you're obviously a government employee, because that information is totally wrong," said Ferance. "It's wrong because A, I just voted, B, I live next door to the voting station, and C, I can still see people coming and going."
From the sworn affidavit of former RMG employee Annette Desgagne to the Federal Court of Canada :
"17. I also specifically recall that I made Change of Address Calls and talked to people in the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming about changes of address for their polling stations because I could not pronounce the word "Timiskaming" and had to find out how to say it properly."

Margin of victory riding data from Elections Canada Official Voting Results Table 12.
Last two columns in chart taken from data in EKOS Study

OK-now-you're-just-screwing-with-our-heads update : 
PM's mail room may have shredded historical documents 
Why? Because the mail room was so swamped 3 days after the last election
Oh ---oopsy, a shredding incident.
Did the historical documents come from the Historica-Dominion Institute by any chance?
And Jesus Rose Mary Woods and Joseph, I'll bet even employees at friggin Dairy Queen have to initial registered mail packages they receive.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stop Motion 312

Sign the petition. Better yet - download it and get 25 sigs on it for parliament.
Read up at : Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. Support Radical Handmaids

Do something! It's 2012 and we're defending women's right to choose all over again from anti-choice pez dispensers like Woodworth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The life of a RoboCon is always intense

Responsive Marketing Group (RMG) - the telemarketing company credited with building CIMS, the Cons' voter database on Canadian citizens used by 97 Con MPs in the last election - is some hacked off with having its reputation slandered due to its 'acquisition' of Xentel DM, a cross-border telemaketing fundraiser which comes with a long trail of sorry ass news baggage.
The Responsive Marketing Group Inc.('RMG')'s proud, 21-year reputation for providing voter contact services has come under increasing attack through speculative media reports and accusations in Parliament that are without basis in fact. .. Liberal and NDP MPs have taken to knowingly and deliberately misrepresenting RMG's business practices in the House of Commons, by tying past practices of a company that RMG acquired two years ago - Xentel DM Inc., to our current operations, despite the fact that the very issues they refer to occurred before RMG's acquisition of Xentel.
 Since our acquisition of Xentel, we have instituted a wholesale reorganization at the company:
  • The management team at Xentel was replaced.
  • New systems, processes and quality control measures were instituted to bring it in-line with RMG's practices.
  • RMG continues to operate as an independent firm.
Ok, let's look at those claims one at a time.

1. I confess I'm a bit confused about the merged RMG/Xentel joint management team during the last election and whether RMG acquired Xentel or the other way around.

McMaher : Call centre used aggressive sales pitch to raise money for Tories
RMG merged in 2010 with Xentel DM, a Calgary-based telemarketing firm that worked primarily for charities in the United States. The company now operates under the umbrella of iMarketing Solutions Group. ... During the election campaign in the spring of 2011, the merged company was run by co-CEOs Michael Davis, formerly of RMG, and Michael Platz, formerly of Xentel. 
And is Linked In at all reliable? Because it lists David Winograd - "Greater Milwaukee Area" - as "President of Xentel : Currently holds this position" and "President of IMarketing Solutions Group March 2010 – Present (2 years 2 months)"

More joint management news from Bloomberg BusinessWeek
"Mr. Michael P. Platz served as a Co-Chief Executive Officer of iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. (alternate name: Xentel DM Inc.) until September 6, 2011 and previously served as its President. Mr. Platz also served as Chief Executive Officer of Xentel DM Inc."
Target Outreach, RMG's brand for its US operations based in Washington DC, Ft.Lauderdale, and Milwaukee, also lists Michael Platz as President. 

From Business Week's Company Overview of The Responsive Marketing Group Inc.
"The Responsive Marketing Group Inc. designs and executes integrated programs that use direct mail, the telephone, and online tools. The company is headquartered in Toronto, Canada with office operations in Washington D.C. As of March 3, 2010, The Responsive Marketing Group Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Xentel DM Inc".
Right, so now I have no idea who owns who here.

2. New systems and quality control.
So what's up with Xentel? Well, lots in the US, but here's one in Canada:

Five years ago The Star did a story on fundraising consultant Craig Copland and six Canadian charities he founded and ran out of a post office box belonging to Xentel.:
Copland finds Xentel new charity clients. Xentel pays him royalties for charities sent its way. He also served on Xentel's board of directors until the Star started asking questions.  
Here's the update on that one from a year ago :
Plug pulled on charity after audit reveals money misspent  March 7, 2011 :
An organ donation charity that made emotional pleas to Canadians to help save lives has been shut down after federal auditors found most of the money collected went to fundraising and administrative fees. 
This is the second charity Copland helped found that has been shut down by the Canada Revenue Agency in the last two years. A third charity, which paid a Copland-run company nearly $900,000, was shut down last month.
Auditors also said the Emergency Foundation paid more than $4.5 million to telemarketer Xentel and another firm while listing payments of only $1.9 million to charity programs.
 Xentel carries a reputation in North America for aggressive pitches.
"Xentel spokesperson Len Wolstenholme said his company prefers to avoid costly U.S. legal battles and when necessary settles the case, admits no guilt and pays a fine."
Leonard Wolstenholme is Chief Compliance Officer of IMarketing Solutions Group Inc

3. Independence.
At the bottom of Con MP Laurie Hawn's telemarketing services contract with RMG for the last election - underneath the bit about "developing scripts and background materials in consultation with the client", the "attempted collection of email addresses", and "data transfer in CIMS format" - is the following note about confidentiality :
"The CAMPAIGN's lists shall be confidential and RMG (including its related and affiliated companies) shall not directly or indirectly, knowingly disclose this data to or for the benefit of any person, firm, corporation, association, business or governmental or private agency of any kind whatsoever or wherever situated, other than the CAMPAIGN and the Conservative Party of Canada."
So does RMG ( including its related and affiliated companies) own the data on Canadians? 
Do they store it in Canada? 

Dec 21, 2012 Update : RoboCon : RMG/Xentel/iMarketing Solutions revisited

Today's RoboCon news :
Former call centre worker files affidavit over election calls

McMaher: The Con Party and RMG reject former RMG call centre employee Annette Desgagne's sworn affidavit that phone workers misdirected voters.

CBC : 6 robocall ridings had no polling changes

Update : POGGE : Is this really the story you want to go with?

Friday, April 13, 2012

RoboCon Republican edition update

Been just over a month now since I posted this picture of Front Porch Strategies President Matthew Parker sitting in the Vaughn campaign offices of Con MP Julian Fantino with a phone to his ear, a pencil in his hand, and a paper with the header "Election Day is Monday May 2nd - You Can Vote Now" in front of him during the last federal election.
The FPS caption reads : "Matt lending a hand for MP Fantino here in the greater Toronto area (GTA)"

I also mentioned a FPS tweet about their door knocking for Con MP Rick Dykstra plus some of FPS's other Republican pet causes.

Dave over at the Beav was bothered by this. Exactly how, he asked, did the Ohio boys' adventures in the Canadian election square with the Canada Elections Act prohibition on Non-interference by Foreigners 
331. No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is(a) a Canadian citizen; or(b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Good question. I fired off a letter to Elections Canada but did not receive a reply. Well, they have been pretty busy.

Two weeks later, student journos at Brock Press were wondering the same thing and Sun journalist Stephen Lautens had a go at unpacking the EC's language on violating the Elections Act. 

Four days ago : Vancouver Observer, April 9 :
Tories may have broken 2011 election rules with US Republican campaigners in Ontario
including this response from Front Porch Strategies' "Canadian liaison": 
“They were in Ontario for a day and a half (in April), for the purpose of acquiring new clients,” political consultant Jim Ross told the Vancouver Observer. “They knocked on doors for roughly an hour with Rick [Dykstra], traditional canvassing to identify support. While waiting for a delayed meeting they made roughly 30 minutes worth of phone calls for Minister Fantino, again to identify support.
“Other than teleforums, brief incidental volunteerism as described above over the course of a day and a half that was mostly spent trying to acquire new clients. There was no other involvement.”
Good for VO for getting a response from FPS 'Canadian liaison Jim Ross' but I think they might have mentioned that he was also Con MP Rick Dykstra's campaign manager in the last election before he made the jump to FPS. in November 2011. FPS is not alleged to have committed any improper use of live calls or robocalls.

Today Kady is on itAfter also failing to get an answer from EC, she slogged through "through every election-related bill introduced in Parliament since hopes of coming across even a parenthetical reference to S331 that would shed light on its original purpose" and comes up thwarted as to what the MPs who drafted and amended it actually intended. 

In other cross-border telemarketing news, FPS was awarded a 'Pollie' -  the US political PR industry's Oscar - in Texas this month for their telemarketing success in getting the National Holocaust Monument bill through Canadian parliament.

Blog Archive