Monday, February 17, 2014

The Star leaks and the Fair Elections Act

Last week, the Star published a half dozen articles based on secret memos and a 70-page slide show about the Cons' 2015 election war room strategies anonymously leaked to them, as presented to the Conservative National Council above by Harper's former dcomm and now executive director of the CPC, Dimitri Soudas :
"Everything we do is part of the strategy to ensure we win in 2015 with another majority government"
The campaign is slated to start this spring. 
"Everything" includes a "drive, disrupt, disunity" campaign targeting Justin Trudeau from within the upcoming Liberal convention, led by :
"Soudas, Industry Minister James Moore (or Heritage Minister Shelly Glover as backup), former PMO chief of staff Guy Giorno, and a “yet-to-be-determined” Conservative who will be blogging for Macleans magazine";
leveraging Laureen into the public eye; and data-scraping comments under articles, Twitter and Facebook for possible supporters to add to their CIMS/CVote database. 

Blurring the lines between the public service and the Con Party on our dime has been a Con specialty.

Prior to the last election one of Jason Kenney's staffers was forced to resign after sending out a Con fundraising letter to target "very ethnic" ridings on Immigration Ministry letterhead but was then rehired back and given a promotion in the same ministry three months later.

A year ago, Michael Sona, Con volunteer in the 2011 election fraud riding of Guelph who afterwards became a staffer to Dimitri Soudas' wife, MP Eve Adams, tweeted about Hill staffers building the CIMS :

That would be gov staffers in the public service working on the Hill adding info about Canadians to a partisan Con Party election campaign database.

And in the same month Blogging Tory founder Stephen Taylor bragged to his Enbridge and TransCanada-sponsored "Big Data" audience at the Manning Centre for Building Democracy about the Conservative Caucus Research Bureau using taxpayer dollars to micro-target voters in 2008 :
"[The party] sent out, I think, probably a hundred million pieces of mail. Paid for by the taxpayer, I should say. They were each barcoded, and they were each very issue-specific. Most people would sort of ignore it or say 'this is garbage.' But the few people who would actually send it back and say 'Hell yeah, that's what I'm all about' -- you would be able to put them in a database."
The School of Practical Politics at the Manning Centre "will be training thousands of volunteers online and at the school's new campus in Calgary from now until the next election".

The newly leaked docs from the Star on data-mining Facebook :
"The slide show points to radio station CFRA’s Lowell Green, whom it identifies as an “Ottawa based conservative leaning talk show host.” It says a “recent Facebook posting—non-issue” received 55 Facebook “likes.” The document says the party was able to “positively identify 38 constituents (70 per cent ID rate).” Of those 38, it said five “are current members/ donors."
Using a simple Facebook application to ask “Have you voted yet?”:
If a voter clicks yes, “I voted,” the party would then place a badge in their friends’ news feeds saying “I Have Voted, Have you?”
Place a badge in their friends' news feeds?

Notably, under the Fair Elections Act the Cons are in such a rush to bash through Parliament, there is no mention of such data scoping, while targeting and contacting "current members/donors" like those mentioned above will no longer count as an election campaign expense after the writ is dropped. 

And with the Elections Canada's investigatory function now relocated to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions under Peter MacKay, we'll likely never get to hear about our tax dollars hard at work re-electing another Con majority.


Boris said...

Do you know, aside from the creepy gross feeling that overcame me when I noticed Harper and the cowboy hat in the photo touching bellies, I wonder where this all leads.

What does the Opposition do when the Cons rig the entire game so that no party but the Cons can win? Do they even get how dangerous the Cons are? If they did, they'd be a united front.

How long can the Cons hold it together internally? There are already indications of cracks.

What do voters do? Provinces?

You can see the strategy. The Cons will rig game so that as long as we still have elections, their 30% support will keep them in a majority and they can't ever be held accountable for anything.

Failing the RCMP magically arresting significant members of the Conservative high command, ee've got maybe the next election (buggered as it is) to remove these people.

thwap said...

I have no idea why the opposition doesn't recognize the danger and respond accordingly.

btw. Alison, I asked Elections Canada why they could give Prescott immunity but not the employees at Del Mastro's brother's place. They replied that they can't comment on shit that's before the courts. (I laffed and told them to get back to me in 10 years.)

Alison said...

Boris : Yeah, they'll keep refining their micro-targeting of the 30% because it's the only thing keeping them in power.

Opposition as united front. This is where we disagree, Boris. You think the CCCE much cares whether it's Steve or the Dauphin sitting in the big chair? Because I don't.

Maybe it's because I live in BC where the majority of Liberals really are Conservatives, but to me the "Liberals, Tories, same old story" is not some Dipper partisan slogan; it's an acknowledgement of not only the Libs' shared agenda and voting habits with the Cons, but their perpetual lack of willingness/readiness to risk rocking the boat. I'm sure all of them aren't in favor of full-on tarsands development, lowering corporate taxes, and supporting the anti-terrorism act and ethically bankrupt mining trade agreements abroad, but what I see is them making noises against those things in committee and then voting for them alongside the Cons when it comes time to pick a side. I could overlook this when the Cons held a minority and the Libs' main fear was precipitating an election they weren't prepared for but what's their fucking excuse now?

I don't do posts sniping at them because I don't think it helps and lots of small l libs are wonderful human beings who remember some golden liberal past but it seems to me that voting for a bunch of pro-corporatist assholes with a cuter guy out in front is just prolonging the reign of the corporatist assholes and their gradual dismemberment of Canada.

Thwap : You got an answer! I didn't and I was very very polite.

Boris said...

Don't get me wrong, Alison, I have no love for the Liberals (prov of fed), but only marginally more for the Dippers. The party system is insane for me. When I posted something to that effect in another venue, one or two of my well-meaning (but IMHO utterly naive) friends got the vapours and told me I made them feel bad because they carried assorted party membership cards. The golden-pasters aren't comfortable acknowledging any kind of a corporatist state or governmental malpractice and get starry-eyed with brand loyalty and celebrity and some vague ideals. To me it's utterly idiotic, yet by fuck there are millions of people who won't believe Canada is anything but dudley-do-right "nice" all day every day.

CCCE might prefer someone less insane, unless they're into oil, and then we're also talking about Chinese energy execs and other weirdness.

What the Libs and Grits don't get is that they won't be should Harper win another majority, hence some kind of united front for the urgent necessity of shoving the Cons out of the government. I'd take that over a permanent Con majority all which that leads to.

Purple library guy said...

If they do manage to successfully rig the electoral process (something this is just the beginning of) they won't need any particular percentage to win as long as they can stuff the ballots. Right now at the ground floor, we got scrutineers from all parties at every ballot box; the actual vote count is pretty solid. Which is why they're playing silly buggers largely with trying to avoid people going to vote in the first place (eg robocalls) or trying to block people from voting when they get there (eg vouching). But a really strong get-out-the-vote effort by the other parties can overcome this sort of thing, as the Democrats (much though I despise them) showed last US election. In any case, these measures make only a small difference, which matters if they can keep it close. Makes it our job to poison the minds of everyone we can reach against the bastards.

If they really get elections rigged, it's not a democracy any more. If it's not a democracy any more, revolution, whether through violence or large scale strike and civil disobedience action, becomes both a legitimate solution and the only one remaining.

Anonymous said...

Didn't two Americans, Wenzel and Parker directly participate in two Conservative campaigns? Front Porch Strategies were accused of the robo-calls that came out of the U.S.

Have people read of? Harper gives a speech in New York at the, Council of Foreign Relations. This was Sept 25/2007

What I had read was? Big business is pushing for the NAU. Harper's election was rigged so, they could get on with the NAU.

Big business pushes for the NAU
May 18/2011

Harper officially endorses the NAU
Oct 3/2008

The 3 Amigo's meeting underway.

Harper lies so much. You never know if anything he says is true.

scotty on denman said...

Neo-rightists are just another version of many who subscribe to the idea that having power legitimizes anything to keep it. It's supposed to look procedural, as if rules are being followed, one foot in front of the other proceeding down the garden path. This is the only rule Harper explicitly follows, otherwise rules are used tactically in the changing of them, made to suit whatever provocation, feint or surprise he decides to deploy. Steve's been moving the goalposts for a long time. That's what he's doing with elections right now---has to, it's the next step.

One of the first was to convince Peter MacKay to betray the Progressive Conservative Party to him and sell it as expediting an inevitability, as natural and legitimate. Next was to convince voters not to worry about this alliance's ring-wing creds, neo- or religious, homophobic or other shades of extreme. Voters cautiously gave him minorities--Steve having to move some goalposts at Rideau Hall to survive one of them. He eventually won 30-something % of the 60% or so of eligible voters who voted, a parliamentary majority which he got in the habit of calling a "majority of all Canadians" (it's actually about a fifth). Omnibus bills, silencing enviro-crirics, stacking hearings. They always said Steve's got a hidden agenda yet he's been pretty blatant since getting his "majority".

It's appalling: when busted, just bring skulduggery to light, legitimize it for the powerful---all in the open, perfectly accountable and, anyways, statistics (Etobicoke "recount") and "differences of opinion" ("In&Out" conviction) must defer to Steve's power.

The slope is slippery, yes, but I don't think we've quite reached the electoral event horizon yet, the point after which there's no escape---that would be online voting.

While I share the fear that we might have only one shot left to get rid of these rotters, I also sense Steve's fear that he, too, only has one shot left---for him to secure the kind of power he wants. He seems to be riding a lot on it.

Boris said...

PLG, yes to all that, but I'd rather not reach the worst stage.

Years ago a friend of mine heard several conservative university students talking about volunteering at polling stations during the next election explicitly to control access to the ballot boxes. This is al long before robofraud. It's entirely possible conservative operatives have been playing this game for while and its only when they kicked it up a notch that it got noticed.

Anonymous said...

The above smells a bit of desperation, but wtf, something has to be done. I can't believe it, but there are people back on the strategic voting meme, didn't work last time, won't work this time. Will the opposition pls. do their fucking job!

Peacekeeping Veteran said...

Last election,I asked questions at all candidate meeting. My Robocall said my polling station moved 18km away. CIMS rocks!!!
If Election Corruption is so important that it must be rushed through parliament ,why doesn't Harper tell us why. I'd rather see $2.5M telling Canadians about castrating Elections Canada. Better than money spent on non-exsistant job program

rockfish said...

Sorry Alison but that old saying isn't the whole truth. I've been a federal Liberal since 1985 and been active and dormant in my involvement; as a BCer I've voted NDP in every election since 1979... Bill Bennett should rot you-know-where for his restraint era crimes. Social conscience doesn't have to mean soft on fiscal responsibility, which the federal NDP is tarred with, rightly or wrongly.

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