Monday, March 12, 2012

There is a Difference

Another day, another new defence from the CPC over the Robocall Scandal.

Firstly, rumours are percolating that the man behind Pierre Poutine may be stepping forward today; we'll comment on that and what it means if it happens.

Secondly, the CPC has taken a new approach to defending misguiding Robocalls that they are being accused of ordering. The CPC is hammering the Liberal Party for also using Robocalls in Guelph, only they are not lambasting the party for providing misleading information to voters. Rather, they are pointing out that the LPC ordered a round of Robocalls that were not identified as coming from the LPC.

The CPC is pointing to this as a smoking gun that the LPC is behind the Robocall Fiasco, not them. But of particular interest is the fact that we know the content of the unidentified LPC call. The LPC call is read by a woman telling voters the Marty Burke, the CPC candidate, was strongly pro-life and would work to roll back a pro-choice stance in Canada.

The message goes on further to recommend strategic voting in the riding, as it could be a close vote, in order to prevent Burke from being elected.

Now, the CPC is trying to get these Robocalls on the same level as the ones that misguided voters and directed them to the wrong polling stations. But the fact of the matter is that there is a difference between the calls made by the LPC, and the calls that identified themselves as coming from 'Elections Canada'.

Firstly, let's look at the big difference.

The LPC calls were not identified, but the LPC has come forward and admitted that the calls came from them and that it was an oversight that the calls were not identified as coming from their party. So, the LPC has at least embraced their wrongdoing and admitted that they released Robocalls that were incorrectly identified. But they've taken ownership of the problem.

BUT, these calls are not on the same playing field as ones that are being investigated by Elections Canada. This was a call that identified TRUE issue (Burke is notoriously pro-life, as are many Conservative MPs and candidates), and was letting voters in the area know that Burke would be a number of Conservative MPs that could support rolling back abortion rights in the country.

The only problem with the calls is that they did not identify themselves as coming from the Liberals, but the issue in the calls ARE TRUE.

Secondly, these calls were not targeting voters in underhanded ways...OR at least, in illegal ways. The calls did not identify themselves as from Elections Canada...OR from the Liberals, at odd hours of the morning and in patterns designed to turn voters off the LPC.

Essentially what this boils down to is that these Robo calls were different from the ones being made by people or parties still yet unknown.

To try and equate two different sets of calls as being essentially the same is quite the fallacy.

The Liberal calls presented a valid opinion and fact, whereas the calls being made, supposedly, from Elections Canada were out right fabrications.

What it comes down to is that these calls are not all bad things but the conservative party is trying to present all of these calls as being illegitimate regardless of the content or purpose of those call.

While automated calls may be annoying to the average Canadian they are not illegal in and of themselves. What matters is the content of those calls and whether or not they were made with malicious intent.

As there is no clear malicious intent in the Liberal calls we can not equate them with the same calls that are alleged to have come from the conservative party.

The fact that the Conservatives are even using this as a defense strongly implies that they have more ties to these calls then they are allowing Canadians to know.

This is not so much a smear against the Liberal party as it is a smear against automated dialing itself. The goal is not to incriminate the Liberals but rather to make all automated calls sound illegal, illegitimate, and against a code of ethics.

If conservatives can change the channel by making all automated calls sound wrong, then they think they can sweep this under the rug by implying that all parties use these automated calls and therefore all parties are at fault for using them.

But the question at hand is not whether automated calls are wrong in and of themselves. Rather the question is were these calls used to break Canadian election law.

The Conservatives don't have to discredit automated calls, most Canadians already hate those kinds of calls; but if they can at least make automated calls sound like the bad guy when it comes out that the Conservatives have more to do with this then we currently know, they can point to the calls themselves as being the problem rather than a culture of corruption within their own party.

There is a difference between the calls made by the Liberal party of Canada and the calls being alleged to have come from the conservative party of Canada; although both of these calls were not correctly identified when they were placed only one of them was illegal and sought to undermine the Canadian democratic process.

Finally, this is just a note for those long-time readers of the blog: if the spacing or paragraphs or anything like that seems out of the ordinary, I tried dictating this to my phone which copied and pasted the text. So if anyone notices any errors or problems with the post today, it stems from the limitations of speech to text technology This was something I wanted to try and I don't know whether more posts will come in this fashion, but we'll see what happens.

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