About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Robocall: Notes From a Year Later

A couple of weeks ago I was on Twitter and I read a post by Andrew Prescott, AKA: the blogger Christian Conservative. He addressed the tweet to Donald Trump and asked The Donald to come to Ontario where he can continue the good work fighting wind mills as he did in Scotland. Forget that Trump is basically fighting an entire Scottish town on this so that he can open some ghastly golf course he'll undoubtedly drive into bankruptcy, but as I said a few weeks ago on "Beyond the Ballot Box," if Trump comes to Ontario to protest wind mills, I'll support him so long as he campaigns to see Stephen Harper's birth certificate while he's here.
Joking aside though, I find these kinds of posts from Prescott as irksome as I find them tiresome. Not just because he's one of the few people in the free world that continues to beatify Trump - whose own kids after his election day meltdown last November told him to pucker up - but because in midst of Prescott's identification of so call liars and "Fiberals" he seems to forget that he, himself, has a lot to answer for.
Now I would never say that Prescott doesn't have the right to exercise his right to free speech, but after spending much of the year 2012 rigged for silent running, his stunning lack of self-awareness at calling other people on account for their political scandals while skirting his own is kind of annoying. Prescott, who didn't even grant Elections Canada an in-person interview before high-tailing it out of dodge with many other high-profile local Conservatives, has a lot of nerve still throwing stones like he doesn't live in a glass house himself. One would figure that someone who calls himself "Christian Conservative" would pick up on the irony, but that's one of the many paradoxes that have lingered in the last year.
It was one year ago today that I wrote my first piece on Politico about the then breaking robocall scandal, and as predicted, a year has passed with nothing in the way of tangible results, be they answers to burning questions or punishment of those responsible. An investigation was made, a list of suspects drawn, but like a game of Clue where people keep rolling the dice but no new hints are given, we're stuck with a bunch of things that raise a lot of questions without giving up many answers.
And that's why, as predicted, robocalls, despite the implications, has fallen right off the national radar, replaced by teachers, "Idle No More," senators' salaries, and someone called "Blade Runner." Occasionally, the issue flares up, like the recent case in Saskatchewan where robocalls made by a company owned by the same man as Rack Nine, push polled residents on the matter of re-redistricting. The story didn't create that many waves outside of the Prairies, but that's as much to the credit of the nebulous nature of the system than it is to media laziness or political suppression. It's hard to build a scandal without a face, which is why there's more concern about where Mike Duffy lives than the potential undermining of our democracy.
Since last year, I've made peace with the fact that we'll probably never know what really happened. There are broad strokes, a list of names that's doubly suspicious given that they all seemed to have establish a Mossad-like pack to disperse and severe all contact once the mission was over. There's a paper trail of details and statements and money withdrawn and applied, and it sometimes seems we know everything other than who to put in jail. To the credit of nearly everyone, Michael Sona was quickly dismissed as the so-called "Pierre Poutine" even though we all kind of wish he was. In an conspiratorial analogy, he was Lee Harvey Oswald, unable to hit the broad side of a barn and suddenly able to shoot a moving target several hundred yards away; but we still don't know who it was on the grassy knoll.
Sometimes it seems the real winner in all of this was the Conservatives themselves. Out of the robocall scandal they got a solid, verifiable bit of deflection to shield them from any future accusations: Frank Valeriote. A robocall made by the Guelph Liberal failed to identify that they were the source of the call, thus incurring a penalty of nearly $5,000 from the CRTC. When the opposition says "robocalls," the government says "Valeriote." As if the two are one and the same, and even though they're not, but in the media soundbite culture it's enough to put the matter to rest for another day in Question Period.
So this is a stalemate. Personally, I enjoyed a fleetingly brief celebrity of my own, and a corresponding bump in web traffic, but that's about it. Any attempt to shed further light on the issue seems moot. The government is intractable in offering answers, the Elections Canada investigation hit a dead end, and all the suspects have literally left town. A little over two years till the next Federal Election, and Canadians still have reason to doubt that some enterprising person or persons won't try again to rob them of their vote. Whose to say that 2011, a close election in many districts, wasn't dress rehearsal for 2015, when the voe might be even harder to win using conventional methods like campaigning.
One year later, there's still cause for concern, but not much relief. Uncertainty in the most important institution connected to the workings of government, voting, is the only tangible legacy of the robocall scandal.

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