Dr.Dawg

Robocalls: I told you so

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robocalls.jpg

…and the ghost of Rose Mary Woods is laughing out loud.

What I said on March 5:

What is needed—pronto—is access to the Conservatives’ Constituency Information Management System (CIMS) database, from which the identity of “Pierre Poutine” could very likely be gleaned. (I’m giving Del Mastro the benefit of the doubt here: he’s just not swift enough to set up a future parsing session in which his government can argue that CIMS isn’t a “document.”)

As of this writing, in any case, the Elections Commissioner just hasn’t gotten around to it:

No one believes that a coordinated voter suppression campaign could be carried out without CIMS - the last thing anyone seeking to boost the Conservative turnout would want to do is call its own supporters and misdirect them.

So a detailed inventory of who was using the CIMS database in the ridings allegedly hit by robocalls should narrow down the search for the culprit considerably.

A spokesman for the Conservative party said the Elections Commissioner, who is investigating the issue, has not yet asked for this information. [emphasis added]

And that’s John Ibbitson, for heaven’s sake.

By the time the EC “investigation” finally moseys over there, can we expect a few Rose Mary Woods-like gaps in the record? Assuming, of course, that CIMS is even on EC’s investigatory radar.

Elections Canada has now finally gotten around to checking out Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa, where CIMS is housed:

Elections Canada investigators on the trail of the “Pierre Poutine” suspect in the robocalls case have been asking questions about the actions of staff at Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa.

…[I]nvestigators are now combing over access logs for the Conservatives’ Constituent Information Management System (CIMS) to determine who downloaded a list of phone numbers for non-Conservative supporters in Guelph.

They are now certain the list of numbers in Guelph that received the robocalls came directly from CIMS, according to the source. The CIMS data were compared to listings of the outgoing robocalls provided under court order by RackNine and matched perfectly, the source said.

Now, just guess what?

Nearly a year after the investigation began, the agency is trying to determine why database records provided by the party appear to be missing entries that could help identify who downloaded the phone numbers used to make fraudulent robocalls, according to a source familiar with the probe. [emphasis added]

Oooo, gaps!

This probe, almost a year old, has only now traced the whole mess to Conservative headquarters. Only a few weeks ago, as the McMaher dynamo hit the scene and a national outcry began, did Elections Canada see fit to add another investigator to the team. Things proceeded at a snail’s pace up to that time, in complete secrecy, and without much zeal, judging by the tone of this communication from Elections Commissioner William Corbett a fortnight after the election:

There was no conduct reported that would bring into question the election result overall or the result in a particular riding. Although misconduct was reported in several ridings, there is no complaint that it affected the final result. There is some speculation in the media that the dirty tricks may have affected the result in some close contests.

…[T]he investigation of complaints regarding web-based conduct - particularly third-party conduct - is difficult, time consuming and may be inconclusive. The same applies to telephone communications that flow through intermediaries and foreign call centres. Consequently, the dirty tricks complaints which definitely occurred may not be resolvable, if the conduct is illegal under the Act.

In spite of this absurdly lackadaisical approach, the Robogate scandal has by now wound its way into the upper reaches of the Conservative Party. For those of the Watergate generation there seems a certain inevitability about it all, an eerie Nixonian déjà vu. How long will it be before Prime Minister Stephen Harper assures the nation that he, too, is not a crook?

(Revised with the able assistance of blogger Saskboy and my co-blogger Alison.)

[H/t Errol Mendes]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on April 16, 2012 9:48 PM.

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