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.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The contract

Reuters, July 15, 2010 "Contrary to Liberal myths, this was a competitive process. Canada participated in an extensive and rigorous competitive process where two bidders developed and competed prototype aircraft," said a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay."

Stephen Harper, HoC, Nov 3, 2010 "Mr. Speaker, once again, not only was there a competitive process to select this aircraft, but the previous government put money into the development of the aircraft for the Canadian military. That is the position.
We are going to need to replace the aircraft at the end of this decade, and the party opposite knows that. But instead, for the sake of getting the anti-military vote on the left, with the NDP and the Bloc, the Liberals are playing this game.
The mistake is theirs. It would be a mistake to rip up this contract for our men and women in uniform as well as the aerospace industry."

Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, HoC, Dec 13, 2010 : "Mr. Speaker, let us look at the actual contract. What the Canadian government has committed to is a $9 billion contract for the acquisition of 65 fifth generation aircraft. This includes not just the aircraft, but also includes the onboard systems, supporting infrastructure, initial spares, training simulators, contingency funds. This is a terrific investment for the Canadian Forces." 

Toronto Sun, Jan 14, 2011 : "I don't understand how the Liberal MPs from this region could want to cancel the contract," said Harper. "It's incredible."

CTV, Jan 14, 2011 : "I do find it disappointing, I find it sad, that some in Parliament are backtracking on the F-35 and some are talking openly about cancelling the contract, should they get the chance," Harper said at the Heroux-Devtek plant in Dorval.

Stephen Harper, presser, Apr 8, 2011 “The contract we signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs, so we’re very confident of our cost estimates.”

Quotes from back when there supposedly was an actual, you know, contract that followed from a competitive bidding process.

Coyne on the AG's report :  “In lieu of a formalized statement of operational requirement or a complete options analysis,” Public Works informed Defence it would go along with the sole-source dodge if it were provided a letter, “confirming National Defence’s requirement for a fifth generation fighter and confirming that the F-35 is the only such aircraft available.” Wait, it gets better: The letter was produced “the same day.” Still better: “There were no other supporting documents.” Still better: “It is important to note that the term ‘fifth generation’ is not a description of an operational requirement.” 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Woodie's wombattlefield

Steve, one year ago : "I'm not opening this debate (on abortion). I don't want it opened. I have not wanted it opened. I haven't opened it as Prime Minister. I'm not going to open it. The public doesn't want to open it. This is not the priority of the Canadian public or this government and it will not be."

Yet here's Con MP Stephen Woodworth, happily debating abortion with Choice Joyce at HuffPo yesterday
Because the House Procedures committee, which coincidentally boasts four openly anti-choice MP guys - Scott Reid, Harold Albrecht, Laurie Hawn, and Tom Lukiwski (and do see yesterday's post for their particular shenanigans over robocon) - the PROC Committee has granted Woodie the right to debate his don't-mention-abortion-I-did-once-but-I-think-I-got-away-with-it abortion Motion 312 in the House on April 26. 

Woodie believes a human life begins at conception and he's not about to allow us sluts to fuck that up for the state any longer. All he asks is for a committee of 12 MPs - 7 Cons, 4 Dippers, and 1 Lib with a Con chair all appointed by that selfsame PROC committee - to figure it out for us and let us know the answer to the question : Why doesn't the state have legal custody over the breeding vessels any more? AKA Whatever happened to a trip to England for the rich; coathangers for the poor? 

Woodie wants it all done "scientifically" : "If we accept one law that says some human beings are not human, who's next?" 
From there he makes the jump from what is human - which is not in dispute as fetuses are obviously human tissue - to what is a person, which is a legal argument. He's pretty sure some kind of equitable agreement can be worked out that will allow two or more legal persons to inhabit one body which will be fair to both and so help me he likens it to freeing the slaves : "the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1859 that blacks were not persons under U.S. law. Wouldn't you and I have objected if we had been there?"

I'm really tired of the whole gamut of this cloying fetish for fetuses - those ethereal imaginary pets of terminally controlling god freaks - from their bunfests on the Hill to pix of their pets plastered in all their gory glory like substitute suffering jesuses on the sides of trucks parked outside schools for the shock value.
It's disgusting. Get help. Stop bothering us.

Monday, April 02, 2012

RoboCon : The Very Significant Alligator Under the Bed

Kady did such a brilliant live-blog of Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand's appearance before the Procedures Committee last Thursday that I didn't get around to watching it all myself till today.  But now that I have, I think the extraordinary lengths to which the Cons on committee were willing to go to try to shift the blame onto Elections Canada requires a fuller transcript.

As PLG points out at Pogge :
"we know the Pierre Poutine phone alone resulted in 6,700 calls to voters, but these calls only resulted in 70 complaints. So, 800 complaints clearly doesn't indicate only 800 calls.If the ratio held it'd be around 80,000. But I'd figure the ratio in other ridings would actually be higher--since publicity about the whole deal would have been especially intense in Guelph, leading more people to actually come forward. So who knows how many fraudulent calls were actually made--I'd say likely well over 100,000."
So here, given that the PROC committee does not have a transcript up yet, is a partial one for posterity and committee geeks :

Con MP Tom Lukiwski opened with a tirade against a Lib staffer who alerted voters to the fact that Con Marty Burke is reportedly anti-choice without identifying herself in the tagline as a Lib staffer.
Tom's talking point already handily debunked two weeks ago here. 
Next up :
Con MP John Williamson : "800 strikes me as potentially just a few errors per riding in the grand scheme of potential voters. What's your sense of the numbers?" 
Mayrand : "We know in the case of Pierre Poutine that there were at least 6,700 calls placed... What is troubling here is that there were definitely calls that were placed on behalf of people, falsely placed on behalf of people including Elections Canada. When you talk about 800 complaints you're talking about specific allegations with respect to calls received by electors."
Con MP Harold Albrecht of Kitchener-Conestoga amusingly tries to make the case that his party might contact a voter early on in the campaign and receive a response of overwhelming support but that by week five of the campaign that voter might changed his mind and it's possible that voter might perceive a follow up call on election day as harassment. 
Which of course has fuck all to do with pretending to be from EC and directing people to non-existent polling booths or calling people up and being rude or offensive while pretending to be from another party. 
Albrecht : 
"800 complaints in 70,000 polling stations - that's roughly one complaint per 100 polling stations"
Lukiwski :
"If we're looking at only 800 complaints, reasonably founded complaints, over roughly 200 ridings, that's maybe as little as one complaint lodged in a riding or as many as seven complaints in another riding. But based on the election return ... since there's a court challenge in seven ridings, and we're only talking about perhaps an average of four complaints, in other words perhaps as little as four examples, even if they were verified, of a voter receiving a vote suppression or misleading phone call trying to get them to another voting station, or to try and prevent them from voting in itself, what is the level that is required to overturn a result? It wouldn't seem to me that if we're talking about only four complaints, even if they were legitimate, per riding, that that would be enough to overturn an election result. What would it take to actually have you look at even considering the possibility of overturning an election result?"
Mayrand : "The responsibility to overturn an election lays with the court. The court will decide." 
Lukiwski : "But in your opinion ..." 
Mayrand : "My understanding of the legislation is that there has to be a demonstration that the result of the specific election, riding election, were affected by the irregularities claimed by the plaintiffs."

Con MP Bob Zimmer, Prince George Peace River : 
"We're hearing about deliberate acts that are attempting to dissude voters from voting or sending voters to wrong polling stations - I would suggest to moving to more of the non-deliberate acts and we mentioned earlier that there was 84% in terms of accurate calling lists or voters lists, [Note to Bob : EC does not have or give out phone numbers] but that still remains 16% in error and I guess most of us and me I was alarmed to see that number. And you had said that 700,000 were updated but that still leaves 3.1 million in error, and I guess just for Canadians' confidence, and I know that's why you're here, can you relay your confidence in the system with that high amount of error? Can you give Canadians a sense of confidence that we still have a good system? And I'll go back to your numbers of four per riding in terms of complaints, of actual calls, so we see quite a discrepancy in numbers there of significant amouts of errors - 3.1 million as opposed to four per riding in terms of net complaints. So there's quite a gap there like you had stated. How can Canadians still be confidant in the Elections Canada system?"
After pointing out that Canada's electoral system is a model around the world,  
Mayrand :"I would point out that a single elector being misdirected from his poll is a serious offence. At the end of the day, that's what investigations are about... "
Zimmer : "Deliberately or even really if its done non-deliberately - if it's an accident ..." 
Mayrand : "One thing I can assure Canadians and the committee is that calls made on behalf of Elections Canada are not errors. I'm sorry, this is not an error. That's a deliberate attempt to thwart the right of an elector."
Zimmer : " But if ridings are given incorrect data and are responding to that data and Canadians are responding to that data and going to the wrong polling stations as a result of incorrect data, that, simply put, that's ..."
And his time is up. 

Laurie Hawn
"This circus, and it is a circus, is undermining, notwithstanding the legitimacy of the processes that need to be followed in order to get to the bottom of it - nobody argues with that -  the circus aspect of this process has served to do nothing but unfortunately degrade the trust of Canadians in their system."
Hawn : Afghanistan, Haiti, blah, blah, blah, after which Lukiwski returns for yet another bout of whine about the Lib staffer busting out Con Marty Burke's alleged anti-choice creds.
Finally, the alligator under the bed makes its appearance :

Con MP Scott Reid
".. Is what we've heard an indication of some kind of alligator under the bed? Is something bigger going on or not? The assertion has been at least implied that there's widespread fraudulent either voter suppression or impersonation of Elections Canada or something of that sort. But what strikes me is if there's really an alligator under the bed, that I wonder if the alligator under the bed simply isn't a widespread problem with trying to figure out where people actually live in order to contact them in a way that uh - you can see there is a distinct problem here.  The normal voters list, the normal number of voters who are put in the wrong location, is 16%. You indicated that after you go through and issue the final voters list, it comes down to 12% error rate? Is that correct? That's still millions of Canadians and I know from experience I've picked up that final voters list myself in the last election from my riding. .. It was about 48 or 72 hours before Voting Day so you can understand it's hard to get that data, input it, and that sort of thing, any kind of actual ...In our case we do more print communication - you can't get that out with the list. As a final note - this is not something that Elections Canada has done but I'll make the point - from the last provincial election, Elections Ontario put myself and my wife - we live in the same house - in two different ridings. So things like this occur all the time. It is as a practical matter very difficult to overcome that problem. I think there is a widespread problem here that leads to many of the kinds of complaints you've heard ."
Mayrand : "The list is not perfect and I don't think it will ever be ... people move all the time, things happen. That being said, I still can't reconcile the idea that people pretending to be Elections Canada tried to misdirect people."
Scott Reid : "... but I think I'm right in saying that the number of instances you're going to find of that as a proportion of the total number of complaints people are raising will be very very small."
Just dying to get to the bottom of this, aren't they?
Final obfuscations with bonus veiled threat from Mr. Creosote ...
Dean Del Mastro : "Just to kinda tie things up here - Mr. Mayrand, thank you for your appearance. You've indicated that in the 308 election results you stand behind your determination of each and every riding - that's part of your report that you've already made to this committee and I thank you for that. You've indicated in your report that you find it troubling to hear sometimes sweeping and vague allegations of irregularities being made public many months after the election and not supported by specific facts. We find that troubling as well - we've referred to that as the unsubstantiated smear campaign. 
Uh and I'd also like to point out that we've got a couple of former very significant - well, police chief and a commissioner of the OPP - that have been involved in some very significant investigations and one of the things that they're concerned with are some of the leaks. And I really wanna say that I appreciate your commitment and your comments specifically with respect to keeping these things in the strictest confidence. I can tell you that there's been harm, there's been harm to individuals, there's been harm to companies, even though for example the member from Winnipeg Centre has apologized for a number of the outlandish things that he has said in the NDP, there has been real harm done. Can you just confirm to the committee that you're going to work to make sure that no leaks are occurring from Elections Canada because there's a number of folks in the media that have in fact came forward and indicated to me that they feel Elections Canada has been the source of some of these things, or folks within Elections Canada. Can you just confirm that you're going to echo your comments to this committee that things will be kept in the strictest confidence...."
Mayrand :  "Another case of vague allegation here.[Room erupts with laughter] I can assure you - no, seriously, seriously  - again, there's no source leaking from Elections Canada if that's the allegation. I can attest to that. I think some should be checking their sources."
Committee ends with an all-party agreement to call Al Mathews, the guy heading up the actual investigations, some time before June. 
Maybe he can locate the very very significant alligator under the bed.

Fun fact : Committee members Tom Lukiwski, Harold Albrecht, Scott Reid, and Bob Zimmer are all from ridings where alligators of electoral irregularities have been alleged.

The most significant alligator of all : The Accountability Act of 2006 rescinded the authority of Elections Canada to prosecute offences under the Elections Act and gave that authority instead  to the Director of Public Prosecutions under the  Attorney General of Canada :
"The Director is given responsibility, in place of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, for prosecutions of offences under the Canada Elections Act."

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