Because the robocall situation, at present, isn't wacko enough, former Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke has gone to the police. For being harassed. By reporters.
Since the story about the robocalls broke out into a full blown national scandal, with Guelph as its epicenter, everybody's wanted words with not just the architects of the Burke campaign - like Michael Sona - but with the man himself. True to form though, as he was during last spring's Federal election, Burke has been unreachable. That's no mean feat in this day and age with phones, cell phones, and e-mail.
But when all else fails, you can always try and talk to someone in person, and knock on their front door. Which is what reporters from the Guelph Mercury and on up the journalistic food chain to the Globe and Mail have been resorted to doing. Burke interprets this as harassment, as if he were a private citizen plucked out of the blue to be the centre of a massive conspiracy. Burke may be innocent of any of the robocall shenanigans, but he's more or less set himself up as the default spokesman for the Conservatives in Guelph and has remained an active letter writer in the local paper. But he seems only willing to talk on his terms, and for a public figure, especially under the present circumstances, that's unacceptable.
The closest thing that Burke's given as an interview is an e-mail exchange with the Guelph Tribune, which was, in part, an opportunity for Burke to slam Liberal MP Frank Valeriote for his somewhat misleading robocall concerning Burke's stand on abortion. Of course, Burke's pro-life position is well-documented, the misleading part was the fact that the call, which was supposed to be coming from a nonpartisan Guelph citizen, was actually bought and paid for by the Valeriote campaign.
"The content of this recorded voice message are now well documented," said Burke in his e-mail to the Tribune. "It appears to have broken several [Elections Canada] laws as well as CRTC laws. For this reason, I filed a formal complaint requesting that Elections Canada investigate this matter- you have this complaint. After this illegal message was made public, Guelph Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote confessed that his campaign had created and sent this message throughout Guelph."
As for the more pertinent robocalls, Burke played Sgt. Schultz. "I have absolutely no knowledge of who made such calls or how and why they were made," he said in his e-mail. "I do not believe there is any connection between these calls and any member of our hard-working, dedicated campaign team. I would be shocked to find out otherwise."
He might be right. Plausible deniability is a tried and true staple of the political conspiracy.
"A week ago, I volunteered to make a witness statement to Elections Canada (EC) with regard to these calls in order to aid their investigation," Burke continued. "This led to a brief meeting at which I had very little information to offer."
Well that is surprising: Marty Burke volunteered information? In his defense, I've seen no evidence to say that Burke was involved in the robocall scandal, and indeed, the sheer size of the campaign to disenfranchise voters would seem to suggest that the mastermind isn't Guelph-based.
Still it takes a seasoned and confident politician to send a 250 word e-mail to the second biggest newspaper in town and wash your hands of the whole affair as if your work is done. It's also come out that Burke's wife Patricia told a Postmedia reporter that her family was fatigued from all the media visits at their home and they have since posted a "No Trespassing" sign. And what would the Burkes have done if Marty had won the election and this scandal erupted? "Sorry people of Guelph, I know you want answers about whether or not the man that represents you in Ottawa was lawfully elected to his seat, but my family's had quite enough of these probing questions into the state of our democracy, thank you."
Patricia and the kids maybe fatigued, but the reporters would stop coming by and calling if her husband would just talk to them. Marty Burke wants to be a politician, he wants to be a man of the people, but he wants to do it on his own terms. He wants to be able to answer questions when he wants, and he wants to only answer the questions he wants to answer. He wants to choose the reporter, and the time, and the day, and the publication, but that's not how we play Bridge. Marty wants to play in the NHL, but on draft day he throws a fit because he's going to the Quebec Nordiques instead of a bigger market.
Burke's selfishness is why he's not MP right now. And deking the robocall issue to Valeriote doesn't make him look strong, or patriotic, it makes him look suspicious. If Marty Burke really wanted to do the country a favour, he'd have the members of his "hard-working, dedicated campaign team" in question come out of the shadows and speak to the issue head on rather than, as usual, hiding behind his laptop.