About the Blog:

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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Case Against Poutine

The Real Pierre Poutine
Smoke’s may have those obnoxious head stickers plastered all over town, but Pierre’s Poutine has achieved true Guelph infamy: it’s the epicentre of a political scandal. For now anyway.
Revelations yesterday that a disposable cell used to call RackNine Inc, the robocall company that tried to Pied Piper Guelph voters to polling places sometimes 90 minutes out of their way, was registered to “Pierre Poutine.” The news, which was gained through access to court documents, is the biggest thing to hit poutine since cheese curds, and has turned a Guelph small business into a national name brand.
Now “Pierre Poutine” is not a particularly cleaver alias, neither is his equally fake address on Separatist Street in Joliette, but considering there’s already been one Guelph connection in this mess (vis-à-vis the aforementioned Michael Sona), I’m beginning to wonder if someone was making You Tube videos, documenting the whole affair for posterity.
Coincidences happen, but to the well-organized mind we must try to delineate what’s a coincidence and what just seems like it. A Guelph campaigner, a phone registered in the name of a downtown business just steps from one of the fake polling places, which was plausible enough considering that Old Quebec Street hosted one of the advanced polls is a triangle that points to the latter. Guelph is at the centre of this certainly. Now the real question is how long the government can pretend that there wasn’t something hinky going on, and when they’ll admit that “talk to Elections Canada” isn’t an acceptable answer to Canadians’ demands for answers?
But as the government tries to push for its own investigation into a Liberal staffer that created the @Vikileaks Twitter handle, the Conservative Party MPs hold the line. Setting aside the fact that it’s counter-intuitive to investigate a solved case, is a fake Twitter account analogous to a potential conspiracy to defraud hundreds of thousands of voters the right to their franchise? If so, then the person or persons that invented the @AngiesRightLeg handle are about to be brought up on charges.
The bottom line is that Canadians want answers about this, and they want them immediately. It doesn’t matter if, as Chantal Hébert noted in her Star column, that the robocalls seemed to have little effect, and you need only look as far as the large margin of victory for Guelph’s MP Frank Valeriote in the last election to see that. I’ll say one thing, if you’ve watched Question Period lately, then you’ll know that the matter has certainly freed the beast in the normally soft-spoken Valeriote.
But the national media junk pile on Pierre’s Poutine (and the corresponding bump in business for Pierre himself) is part of the larger information vacuum I mentioned in an earlier post. So desperate we are for new and substantive information on this important issue that we’ll turn to anyone. Even me.
The Canadian Press got in touch with me Friday about contact information for Michael Sona (because we were such great,personal friends during the campaign), and yesterday a Sun TV News producer e-mailed me about contact info for Victor Pocaterra, the former Guelph Campus Conservative President who wrote that letter to The Star. You know something strange is going on when national news outlets are working their way down their list of sources and they get to me.
Flattering though that may be, for the Conservative government, referring all comments to Elections Canada isn’t good enough. Trying to cast the spotlight to some hapless Bob Rae staffer with a warped sense of humour isn’t good enough. And throwing up your hands going, “Meh, it’s not like it changed anything,” isn’t good enough. Someone – whether it’s Michael Sona, the Conservative Party of Canada, or the Dean Blundell Morning Show on 102.1 The Edge – tried to ‘jack democracy from thousands of Canadians last spring. And that should be worth the government’s time to comment.

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