Dr. Dawg

Roboscam: what is to be done?

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“I’m not convinced that there are such systemic issues raised here as to warrant a public inquiry,” opines Andrew Coyne, “and I’m not sure anyone has really made that case.”

Let me have a go. With help, of course.

69 ridings (not 21, pace Aaron Wherry, who knows of the Sixth Estate spadework and thus has no excuse) are now implicated, in one way or another, in Roboscam. Clearly not all of these complaints will pan out—you would have to be a trusting soul indeed, for example, to take Dean Del Mastro’s late-to-the-party me-tooism with anything but a mountain of salt.

One should also take Dan Gardner’s caution about the Seattle windshield effect seriously. But there’s still a hell of a lot of smoke: I think most reasonable people would conclude that there’s a fire in there.

Coyne wants the truth about Guelph to be fully investigated. But Guelph is just Guelph. With SE, I wish the media would scan more of the horizon here.

Gardner, in fact, does support a full-blown independent judicial inquiry, and he argues for it by process of elimination:

Elections Canada isn’t up to that job. Neither is the RCMP. The Conservatives ensured that with their controversial centralization of political control over the Mounties. And remember that in 2005 Stephen Harper personally accused the RCMP of not investigating the Liberals because the Mounties were under the government’s political control. Whatever the reality, the RCMP simply wouldn’t have the appearance of impartiality that is essential to do the job.

Let’s put a little flesh on those bones.

Elections Canada has neither the resources nor likely the will to carry out an effective, broad and deep inquiry. They’re plainly and demonstrably not up to the job. That’s likely why the Conservatives (who promised their own investigation, but soon reneged*) are so keen on the matter ending up there.

If not Elections Canada and the badly-compromised RCMP, then who? Surely not the government, if they were to do another volte-face. This sort of thing doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence:

One of the Conservatives’ veteran campaign organizers, Senator Doug Finley, said his party does not engage in dirty tricks. What, this Doug Finley? C’mon. And given the way the Conservatives are running rough-shod over Parliament these days, a parliamentary inquiry would amount to the same thing—a Con-job, not to put too fine a point upon it.

So what’s left? Coyne said, as the story was breaking in all its fury:

It is hard to overstate how serious this is. It doesn’t matter whether the calls had their intended effect. It is sufficient that someone made them. If it were just the circumstances, or just their track record, the Conservatives might be given the benefit of the doubt. But the two together, while they do not prove anyone in the party was involved, make it all too plausible to believe they were. Indeed, it would be more surprising to find they weren’t.

How do we get to the bottom of this without an investigation? And what body, short of a full-blown independent judicial inquiry, could do a proper one? There is simply no alternative—and the stakes are too high to confine our concern to hand-wringing.

*UPDATE: Looks like that Conservative investigation is on again, and I don’t like it one bit. They’re presently reviewing all of the tapes used by the robo-calling firm in Thunder Bay, before the special investigator hired by the Commissioner of Canada Elections even get there.

If the RCMP were worth its salt it would have had those tapes under lock and key by now. Somewhere the ghost of Rose Mary Woods may be smiling.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 1, 2012 1:24 PM.

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