Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Steve's Margin of Victory - revised

Revised list of the12 ridings with the slimmest margins of victory which gave Steve his majority. 
My original list from May 5, 2011 is back here, with corrected details and more data.
The Sixth Estate's list of alleged electoral fraud is now up to 50 68 77, 100 ridings,  6 of which appear here on the list of closest vote margins.
Update : As per David P Ball of the Vancouver Observer in comments below : his list of the top 11-closest Conservative wins where robo-call fraud is alleged, along with a little background on each of those ridings.
"The top 11 "robo-call" ridings amount to a 14,813 vote margin - almost exactly 0.01 per cent of voters."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ethical election fraud

Dr. Dawg does Harper: I'm not a crook

and overnight the Cons "Ooopsie, another single solitary lone independently-operating rogue bad apple" story started to leak very badly.

Election Day deputy returns officer at Kitchener Centre speaks out on voting poll misdirection done under his watch.

And now RMG* call centre staffers in Thunder Bay are leaking too 
Conservative scripts misdirected voters in 2011 election
Callers on behalf of the federal Conservative Party were instructed in the days before last year’s election to read scripts telling voters that Elections Canada had changed their voting locations, say telephone operators who worked for a Thunder Bay-based call centre
“We’re sending people to the wrong place,” Desgagné recalled telling her supervisor and RCMP.
She says RCMP said there was "nothing they can do".
And although staffers calls to the public were monitored by a supervisor ...
"... workers shortened their script — although they weren’t supposed to — and said “... I’m calling from Elections Canada ...”
Earlier in the call centre campaign "if a person identified himself as Liberal or NDP, the agent punched a button to indicate he was not a Conservative supporter."
So. If only those Lib or NDP people were then singled out for call back on Election Day and misdirected to wrong or non-existent polling stations, that's flat out effing election fraud. 
*Responsive Marketing Group : “We work exclusively with right-of-centre campaigns to develop fundraising and voter contact strategies that target your message to the right audience, maximize your vote-getting, and win.”
Notable that Harper's former deputy chief of staff Patrick Muttart was on loan to Steve's election war room at the time from his new position with a stateside Republican PR company. You can check out Muttart's new boss' record on election dirty tricks in the US here.  

Superlative research job from The Sixth Estate : Hoax Phone Calls Reported in 42 Ridings During 2011 Election. Really excellent work.

And a reminder : Steve's majority holds by just 14 12 seats.
(Thanks, Dr. Dawg! for the correction : 12 seats, not 14.)
So far, six of those ridings are reporting dirty tricks on Election Day as of this morning.

Vancouver Sun : Judicial inquiry needed into election scandal
A few more links, because so far none of us has covered everything in one place :
Dave : Things to energize your outrage
Boris : What made you do it?
Dammit Janet! : Bad times, good times
Montreal Simon : The Bright Side of the Robo Con Scandal - with great toon
Also LeDaro's clever vid : Robocalls

Friday, February 24, 2012

Robo-calling an election fraud

In writing about the Cons' dirty tricks robocall election fraud, John Ibbitson muses whether the Cons might just bear some "measure of responsibility" for creating a political climate in which their "rogue" campaign managers impersonate Election Canada officials on Election Day in order to send voters off to the wrong or non-existing polling stations to vote.

OK, let's look at just one such riding where things went rogue.

During the last election, Kitchener-Waterloo voters reported being phoned on Election Day and told their polling station had been changed to another location. Complete bs, of course, and the calls were traced to a Conservative Party phone number.

K-W is represented by Con MP Peter Braid. In 2008 he won the riding by just 17 votes.
His campaign manager Aaron Wudrick also works for Campaign Research Inc - this Campaign Research Inc. Braid paid the company "$19,210 to do automated dialing and voter identification" (h/t cultureguru) and hired one of their CEOs to be his Election Day Chair.  

Two years prior to this, Braid, Wudrick, another Campaign Research founder named Richard Ciano ***(previously VP of the federal Conservatives and now running for presidency president of the Ontario Con Party), and the 9th VP of the Ontario Con Party, Ryan O'Connor, were all off at a workshop hosted by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association and the Preston Manning's Manning Centre for Building Democracy ...  ** Correction

And this is where things got just a tad ... roguey

Transcript via WikiLeaks audio. Yes I'm pillaging a previous post here :
37:10) Aaron Lee-Wudrick : I say we, because, even though [Ryan O'Connor] was the forced neutral [as Student President] and me as the Tory president, it was all orchestrated obviously behind closed doors, and it actually worked out well because it looked like different groups of stakeholders, like I'm the outsider coming in, and you guys were just the responsible student government and we had other members of council, a guy he appointed to council, he got speaking rights but he wasn't an elected member, but just as another voice at the table, it made it look like there were all kinds of different corners where in fact we were all on the same team. 
(42:14) Aaron Lee-Wudrick : Campus Radicals for Action on Zimbabwe Yes, or something like that, they were a great shell group. Feel free to use Campus Coalition for Liberty, that's ours so we have a logo and everything. 
(50:05) Ryan O'Connor : When Aaron was doing the petition campaign, which "I knew nothing about;" I was printing them in my frickin office in student government, of course I knew about it, of course we were behind it, I couldn't take a public position on that issue because although I wasn't running for reelection, this was three months before the end of my mandate ... if we had made them an issue, no Tory would ever get elected to student government again.  
Ryan O'Connor : Sometimes you can't attach the party's name to something. You just can't. If it's a really controversial issue on campus or something that might show up in the newspaper, you want to be careful. You just have your shell organization and have the Campus Coalition for Liberty and two other Tory front groups which are front organizations, all of those groups might actually qualify for funding too. 
Aaron Lee-Wudrick : Don't think that the Party doesn't like that, because they do. They're things that will help the Party, but it looks like it's an organically-grown organization and it just stimulated from the grassroots spontaneously. They love that stuff. And they don't have to bear the burden of having any of it attached to their name."
Ok, that lays out the "measure of responsibility" relationship pretty clearly, and here's Steve yesterday to verify it :
"In this case, our party has no knowledge of these calls. It’s not part of our campaign.”
Number of  ridings in the last election allegedly hit by fraudulent robocall campaigns so far : 27
Number of ridings giving Steve his majority : 14  12
Friday Night Update : Elections Canada has dropped their investigation into Waterloo.
"Inaccuracies can occur," said Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews.
But Glen Mcgregor and Stephen Maher are still on it :
More than a dozen ridings blitzed by harassing fake Liberal phone calls in 2011 election.
*** Link defunct. Richard Ciano appears to have been expunged from the Campaign Research website.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Skynet : Connecting the dots

So remember how the Cons withdrew their just-tabled internet surveillance bill, the Lawful Access Act, on Feb 14 and replaced it an hour and 15 minutes later with the identical but renamed Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act , a bill which mentions neither children nor predators?

Coincidentally, the US Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 - sponsored by Texas teabaggin' Rep Lamar Smith who also sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act, another internet spying bill - has 39 co-sponsors and is heading off to the US House of Representatives for debate.

Good thing ours has that one-word difference in the title, the better to provide for Canadian independence and sovereignty.

Theirs :
House Panel Votes to Require ISPs to Keep Customer Records
"The Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act would require ISPs to retain all customer IP addresses [for 12 months, amended down from 18] so that law enforcement agents can use the information to investigate online child pornography. Law enforcement agents would gain access to the IP information with subpoenas they issue, not court-ordered warrants."
Hey, ours does that too!
Michael Geist yesterday :
Toews has not talked about a provision in Bill C-30 that creates a voluntary warrantless system that would allow police to ask for the content of emails or web surfing habits and allow ISPs to comply with the request without fear of liability.
Hey, Section 6 of the theirs does that too! As does SOPA.

So who else is looking to spy on us online?
From the Whitehouse National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy, January 2012 , pages 33-34:
"It is imperative that Canada and the United States work together to expedite the sharing of information from electronic communication service providers; and share information necessary to lay the foundation for intercepting internet and voice communications under their respective laws in a timely manner."
Meanwhile, across the pond, the UK isn't hiding their internet spying bill behind any malarkey about protecting children. Same basic mo though :
UK government to demand access to all phone and internet user data
"The British government is in the process of developing a scheme whereby all phone companies and broadband internet providers will be required to store customer transaction data for a year and hand it over to security services upon request."
Doesn't seem like it much matters who these various government online spying bills are purported to target - pornographers, copyright infringers, drug traffickers, drugbiz mirror sites, terrorists - or who they are supposed to protect - children, Hollywood, the recording industry, drug companies, the public at large. They'll just keep reframing and renaming those suckers until one of them sticks - a law we can't access the inner workings of that entrenches their access to our private info while simultaneously throttling the free flow of shared info out here.

In opposing the US pornography bill, Rep. John Conyers said
"This is not protecting children from internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country with a lot of other purposes."
Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren proposed an amendment to rename it the Keep Every Americans' Digital Data for Submission to the Federal Government Without a Warrant Act but sadly this did not accrue the required votes. Unlikely such a further name change would succeed here either, even with a one-word title change.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh sting, where is thy death?

Following the Ottawa Citizen's attempted sting to determine who was behind the Vikileaks twitter account targeting Vic Toews last week, the House Speaker's Office patiently explained that really it could be any one of over 4,000 people :
"The HoC, like many organizations, uses a series of private IP addresses for its internal network.  Having said that, when users are using the internet, they are only identified with one of our four public IP addresses. To support this approach we use a concept called NAT (Network Address Translation). All users, on the Parliamentary Network (over 4000), when using the internet, are publicly identified with one of these four unique addresses. 
As an example, if we had 100 users using the internet at once from the HOC, they would all be identified with one of the four addresses. Hence, just by looking at the IP address that is used on the internet you cannot correlate this to a person from the organization. "
Gosh I'll bet the Cons feel pretty silly now that Angry Baird raved away six times in the House on Friday that the NDP was behind the “sleazy, dirty” internet campaign, huh?

Here's Steve's Parliamentary Secretary Dean Del Mastro talking about it on CTV's Question Period last night :
"Well we know that the Ottawa Citizen set up a bit of a trap and in fact it seems pretty clear that the NDP's behind it .... What the NDP have demonstrated is that they will punch below the belt repeatedly and it doesn't matter. They put on this facade that they are clean and lilywhite but I can tell you in this case what the NDP has done, we would never do. Shame on them and they should come out and admit who's behind it and frankly take responsibilty for what they have done. It's wrong.
We know this is from an NDP computer. They should come out and admit who has done it and take responsibility and apologise. Canadians do not appreciate this kind of attack ... etc etc" 
And so it goes ...
Update : And in other Skynet surveillance news ...
UK government to demand access to all phone and internet user data
The British government is in the process of developing a scheme whereby all phone companies and broadband internet providers will be required to store customer transaction data for a year and hand it over to security services upon request.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gutter politics, you say?

So the government which used the private medical records of Vets activist Sean Bruyea and Vets Review Board member Harold Leduc to smear them, and the private government correspondence of diplomat Richard Colvin to smear him - the same government which defended its dirty phone tricks campaign as "vital free speech" according to Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan - is now going all Angry Baird that someone twittered already publicly available info about Toews in response to his Awful Access internet spying Act.


Public Safety Minister Vic Toews wants an investigation into someone repeating stuff about him that was already published in the MSM nearly four years ago?

What an absolutely awesome example of how they would use their Awful Access Act.

Saturday. Updates from my betters :
CBC : Online surveillance bill opens door for Big Brother
Canadian Privacy Law Blog : The hidden gag order of Bill C-30

The very funny Tabatha Southey : If only Tory caucus walls could talk 

Jeff Jedras : Vikileaks and the death of the journalist as news gatekeeper


Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Can't Be Arsed To Get a Warrant For That Final 5% Act

On CBC's The Current yesterday, internet law prof Michael Geist and Paul Gillespie, a former Toronto Police sergeant and CEO of Kids' INternet Safety Alliance, faced off on the potential for invasion of privacy afforded by the Lawful Access Act ... Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act ... Can't Be Arsed To Get a Warrant For That Final 5% Act

Partial transcript :

Gillespie explains the bill. Quote :
1)Requires service providers to give subscriber data to police upon request : name, unlisted phone #, IP address, without a warrant
2) If police have the authority, they should also have the ability to monitor peoples' communications
3) With a legitimate legal search warrant, be able to get the records logs
4) Compels service providers to store data

Michael Geist:
"If you look through the bill you don't find the words 'child pornography' anywhere because it's about far more than that.
On warrantless access to suscriber information - the reality is a warrant isn't always needed. Under current privacy law, telecom companies and internet companies have the power, the ability to provide the information, things like customer name and address information, without a warrant in appropreiate circumstances where it's part of an investigation. 
In fact according to RCMP data, they do so about 95% of the time. So in the overwhelming number of cases, they're already disclosing this information without any kind of court oversight. What we're talking about at the end of the day is that last 5%, instances where ISP or telecom companies say "We're not comfortable disclosing this subscriber information to you based on what you've shown us; come back with a warrant and we'll give you whatever you ask for."
That's been a bedrock principle we've had in Canada - it strikes the appropriate balance and really prevents potential fishing expeditions and prevents the prospect of a significant loss and erosion of the privacy balance we have in Canada." 

From Michael Geist's column, Feb 15 :
"[W]ith ISPs and telcos providing subscriber data without a warrant 95 percent of the time, there is a huge information disclosure issue with no reporting and no oversight. This is a major issue on its own, particularly since it is not clear whether these figures also include requests to Internet companies like Google and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The RCMP alone made over 28,000 requests for customer name and address information in 2010."
Meanwhile, be sure to Tell Vic Everything #

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skynet - It's all about the children apparently

Net, cellphones; Police could probe without warrant
"Public Safety Minister Vic ["Torture Lite"] Toews said the law will give the tools to police to adequately deal with 21st-century technology, and said anyone opposing the laws favours "the rights of child pornographers and organized crime ahead of the rights of law abiding citizens."
Actually, Vic, we do favour the rights of child pornographers.  And organized crime. We have to if we favour the rights of everyone equally - which, if I recall correctly, is a bedrock conservative value.


Update : Write your MP
Dear [your MP here] : 
Vic Toews says our choice is between child pornographers and online surveillance. 
Your choice is between voting against the awful access bill and losing your seat in the next election. 
Sincerely, [You]
Update 2 : U.S. seeks to mine social media
The U.S. government is seeking software that can mine social media to predict everything from future terrorist attacks to foreign uprisings, according to requests posted online by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. 
In a formal "request for information" from potential contractors, the FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the entire universe of social media - more data than humans could ever crunch.
The system sought by the research arm of the national intelligence director's office would fuse together everything from Web searches to Wikipedia edits to traffic webcams. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Counter-terrorism - Which colour-code are you?

The G&M, the Star, and Vancouver Observer all carried stories yesterday about environmentalists being understandably pissed at being lumped in with white supremacists among the listed "issue-based" terrorist threats in Canada's new counter-terrorism strategy released on Thursday,  Building Resilience Against Terrorism :
"...domestic extremism that is “based on grievances – real or perceived – revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism."
Gosh that list sounds familiar. 
Wait! Not only have I read it before - I've blogged it before. 
It's from the Integrated Security Unit Joint Intelligence Group's Intelligence Assessment for the 2010 G8 summit, written back in June 2009. From page 6  :
"The 2010 G8 summit in Huntsville ... will likely be subject to actions taken by criminal extremists motivated by a variety of radical ideologies. These ideologies may include variants of anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, nihilism, socialism and/or communism. These ideologies may also include notions of racial supremacy and white power ... 
"The important commonality is that these ideologies ... place these individuals and/or organizations at odds with the status quo and the current distribution of power in society. 
In addition to these generally held tenets, a variety of grievances exist: These grievances are based upon notions/expectations regarding the environment, animal rights, First nations'(sic) resource-based grievances, gender/racial equality, and distribution of wealth etc."
And you all remember how well that summit security assessment worked out.

Notable that this new public list of potential terrorist threats leaves off any reference to First Nations.

Vancouver Observer :
"Public Safety spokesperson Lisa Filipps ... explained that the agency does not keep a list of domestic issue-based terrorist groups, and said the counter-terrorism strategy is not meant to target those using legal means to further their causes."
So I guess that means they've torn up the lists of people mentioned on Page 15 of the the JIG Intelligence Report, then, does it?
"The segment to follow will provide a list of investigative subjects, persons of interest, and their associates. In the following section, a specific profile sheet will be supplied for each subject according the criteria established. The profiles will be divided and color-coded into three distinct categories: Suspect (Red); Person of Interest (Orange); and Associate (Yellow).  
And is this still going on? Yes it is :
RCMP records suggest that the reconnaissance continuesReport logs indicate at least 29 incidents of police surveillance between the end of the G20 summit and April 2011 — more than nine months after world leaders departed Toronto.
Look, nobody expects our government not to track and compile lists of people and groups it considers likely to blow things up, and most of this "new" strategy focuses on those. But in its determination to bash through the Enbridge Gateway tarsands-to-tankers pipeline regardless of what Canadians think about it, this government has repeatedly referred to environmentalists as "radicals" and "adversaries" and "foreign-funded socialists".
How far is that from being a Suspect (Red), a Person of Interest (Orange), or an Associate (Yellow)?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Steve flexes his sino-pecs from China

Star : Harper blasts foreign money in oil sands debate while welcoming China


Reuters : Canada PM vows to ensure key oil pipeline is built 

CBC : Harper ties China trade deals to Canadian values 
"Canada does not — and cannot — disconnect our trading relationship from fundamental national values."
Meanwhile ...

CTV : Chinese dissident writer gets 7 years' jail for poem
"a poem he wrote urging his countrymen to gather at a public square"
Sinopec seeks appeal in oilsands death case
A Chinese state-owned corporation wants the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn an Alberta court judgement ruling that would force it to stand trial in the deaths of two oilsands workers and 53 safety charges.
In the Great Hall of the People, Harper told Premier Wen Jiabao that Canada and China enjoy “a strategic partnership based on respect and admiration.” Wen answered that Harper’s visits “opened a new page in our bilateral relationship,” which translated into English means, “We’re glad you finally got with the program.”
Then Harper said he would be raising human rights and consular issues. That’s when the journalists were ushered out of the room. It felt just like Ottawa.

Mound of Sound explains : Okay, I Get It.
Harper Needs China to Buy Bitumen So Canada Can Buy F-35s to defend Canada Against China

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Torture : Twas brillig, saith the slithy Toews

"Twas brillig," saith the slithy Toews
"To waterboard outside our nabe."
All mimsy went the newsy slaves
To hear the mome rath outgabe :

"Tis Ethical Torture now, my son! -
The wires that shock for me and you.
I'm the mustache of John Bolton
And John Yoo is my new guru."

 Public Safety Minister Vic Toews explained his not particularly new torture directive for CSIS in the House :
 "Mr. Speaker, information obtained by torture is always discounted.  However the problem is whether one can safely ignore the information if Canadian lives and property are at stake."
~Dad, what does the minister mean by "torture is always discounted."
~Well, my son, probably around 15%. But once you advertise you're open for business in torture intel, the whole damned market explodes and then no one gets a decent discount.

CP via Pogge  : 
"The latest directive says in "exceptional circumstances" where there is a threat to human life or public safety, urgency may require CSIS to "share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities, including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment."
Here's the UN Convention Against Torture, to which we have been a signatory since 1984, on those "exceptional circumstances" :
“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
One of the best wrap-ups on the actual harm torture-derived info has done to western intelligence and their agencies, quite apart from the evil or legalities, comes from David Rose at Vanity Fair : Tortured Reasoning. 
It ends with an interview with Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI since one week before 9/11 :
I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”? 
“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ari, abortion, and alternate universes

Seems former White House Bush spokesy, sometime Steve fluffer, and anti-Planned Parenthood campaigner Ari Fleischer was involved in vetting job applicants for the Susan G Komen For the Cure foundation, which then dropped their funding for Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening last week after its anti-choice leadership reverse-engineered its funding rules to align with anti-choice groups opposed to abortion, contraception, and stem cell research. 

Dr. Dawg has already done a takedown on their subsequent non-apology apology, made in the wake of considerable public backlash, and Fleischer is insisting he had nothing to with any Komen policy changes about Planned Parenthood.

This reminded me that as recently as three years ago Ari Fleischer was still plumping for an alternate universe in which Saddam Hussein was the guy behind 9/11.   15 second clip above; full Hardball show here.

Eighteen days after that March 11, 2009 TV appearance, Ari, acting in his capacity as Steve's US media fluffer, arranged the now infamous Fox News luncheon attended by Steve, Steve's director of communications Kory Teneycke, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, and Fox News president Roger Ailes. Four months later, Teneycke left Steve's employ to pursue his dream of creating a Fox News North for Canada and voilà - the alternate universe of Sun TV where they just make shit up was born. 

The night before the Foxy lunch, Ari had also arranged for Steve to have dinner in Washington with  "Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, William Kristol, and conservative syndicated talk-radio host Laura Ingraham."
Good grief but those little applets never seem to fall too far from the RepubliCon family tree, do they?

In 2004 Ron Suskind related the following conversation with a Bush aide :
"The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' 
I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' 

Meanwhile, Con MP and Fetus Festivus alumnus Stephen Woodworth will hold a public press conference tomorrow in Ottawa to ponder the question "When is a human being a human being?"
According to Section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada, in this universe a human being obtains upon having "completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother."
Hope this helps.


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