Thursday, November 26, 2015

A closer look at the CRTC Voter Contact Registry

The Fair Elections Act mandated the first ever Voter Contact Registry. 

Phone-bank companies, candidates, political parties and third party groups hiring an outside company to make live and robo calls had 48 hours from the start of their use in a campaign to register with the CRTC. Parties and candidates making their own in house calls were not required to register. The DoNotCall list does not apply to political calls.
This same Fair Elections Act prevented release of the list til a month after the election. This meant voters were unable to check it to see if the calls they were receiving were legitimately registered with the CRTC - not that it would have mattered in the case of Pierre Poutine in the last election as he hid his use anyway.

The CRTC list was published a week ago: 
"A total of 1460 registrations have been filed to the CRTC for the 42nd General Election, including 554 from calling service providers and 906 from other persons or groups."
At first glance, the list appears to be one long list of Con MP/candidate names and phone service providers so I added them up :
118 Con candidates used Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), for live calls
92 Cons used ElectRight for live/robo calls or both, Bergen, Clement, Raitt, Nicholson, and Scheer among them.
38 Cons used Nik Kouvalis' Campaign Research/Campaign Support for live/robocalls or both, including Harper, Poilievre, Oliver, Alexander, Rempel, Leitch, O'Toole, Lukiwski  
But First Contactwhich told CBC that in the 2011 election it "provided services to more than 80 Liberal candidates", is listed on CRTC's 2015 Voter Contact Registry simply as 

where "Both" refers to both live and robocalls. No names or numbers so we don't know how many Liberals signed up with them for how many calling contracts this time.

Likewise NGP VAN, a Washington DC company used by Obama in 2012 on which Liberalist is based, is just listed as : 

Perhaps NGP VAN is considered "in house" but I wonder on what grounds the CRTC allowed First Contact off the hook about their specific use in a list that is supposed to be about public disclosure. 
Glen McGregor writes : Compared to their rivals, Tories used a whack more telephone contact firms during the election
but I don't think we can know that if data for large firms are missing.

Onwards ...
127 Liberals used Prime Contact Inc
Only 4 Cons used RackNine this time round, Jason Kenney being most notable.
5 NDP candidates used Strategic Communications. This appears to comprise the entire extent of reported NDP phone campaigning for individual candidates. There were another 4 Strategic Comm listings for the NDP Party at large.The bulk of Strategic Comm users were third party groups like unions, Greenpeace, and Council of Canadians. The NDP as a party also used Direct Leap Technologies.
And lastly, a brief look at Blue Direct, new to me and used by Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, and 10 other Cons for both live and robo calls according to the CRTC list. 
In his 2014 book, Winning Power: Canadian Campaigning in the Twenty-First Century, Tom Flanagan writes Blue Direct is owned by a former student of his, Matt Gelinas, formerly of RMG and the Manning Centre. 
Gelinas' partner at Blue Direct is Richard Dur, a Morton Blackwell Leadership Institute alumnus, seen here being honoured as Leadership Institute graduate of the week in 2011 :
“LI graduate and Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Anders said it well when he described LI training as ‘taking a drink from a fire hose,’” Richard said.
Ok then.

Edited for clarity.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alison,

I don't know much about you Alison. That's a good thing. Snowden & Greenwald are my heroes.

But I know this. You're one of the best journalists in Canada.

Keep doing what you are doing. It makes a difference.


Anonymous said...

For years, Blue Direct has had an office space adjacent to the former (hallelujah) MP Rob Anders in the same strip mall.

Anonymous said...

I second Diogenes comment.

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