Creekside

Monday, April 21, 2014

ElectRight & Prime Contact Group - from a former candidate

An election candidate who paid $22,000 to a voter contact/robocall firm in 2010 for a "Mayoral Victory Package" has a warning to similar aspirants for 2014 :  Ontario Candidate Watchdog. It's an interesting read.

According to John James' account, following the election he lost to his municipal rival, he and his rival shared notes about their respective voter contact firms - James used Prime Contact Group and his rival used ElectRight -  and found they'd both been sold the exact same polling information and, James contends, both were serviced by the same rep.
"What surprised me at the time was that his numbers were almost exactly the same as the poll numbers I had received from Prime Contact in August 2010. I went back to review my files that night and realized they weren't just close, they were exactly the same, down to the tenth of a percentage point for all candidates.  
The next day, I asked him if he had received a similar house by house report from his ITR as I had received and if he would mind sharing it with me. The response numbers were exactly the same, every single response was exactly the same. These two ITR polls that had supposedly been conducted two weeks apart got responses from the same exact phone numbers and the same exact responses for all the candidates and undecided voters. 
I realized right away that we had both been sold the same poll results. My only consolation was that my friend had paid significantly more for his than I had for mine. Over the next few weeks we also compared our live call results and realized they matched exactly, except for the signs that had been requested for each of us. I also found out that my old friend Derek [his Prime Contact Group contact] had also been the client rep for Electright and had communicated with the other campaign as he had done for me."

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his account as he has no contact info on his blog which was just set up last Thursday. And he does admit all this is legal.

But if true, it raises some interesting questions. Do ElectRight and Prime Contact work together and share outreach staff and information? Do they both use the same in-house resources or those of some other third party? Is there a parent clone company for both somewhere?



The Windsor Square interviewed Josh Justice, President of Prime Contact, in January 2012:
"A licensed provider of Canadian Data Services, Prime Contact offers such services as virtual town halls, live voter ID calling, automated surveys, market research, data services and polling.
The company, with an office in Hamilton and headquarters in Tampa, Florida, started up 10 years ago consulting focusing on municipal elections. It has since grown to become Canada’s largest firm of its type “specifically on the municipal side,” according to Justice.
Among the company’s successful clients include Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi."
From a York Region interview in 2010 regarding a telephone townhall in Vaughan in October 2010:
"PrimeContact president Josh Justice said the company has done hundreds of these sessions across North America, mainly in the United States."
I wonder if these US and Florida references about Prime Contact Group can be correct, given there's a little "Made in Canada" flag up there on their website?
"PCG Research owns and operates a series integrated in-house research call centres in Ontario, Canada in which 100% of our domestic research is conducted.
Global 
"Our successful international market research brings elements together to deliver research programs which enable our clients to address critical issues both locally and globally. PCG Research International is network flexible and we are not compelled to work with local subsidiaries or franchisees. 
We select local partners based on quality, track record, and compatibility. For qualitative work we will always send a team member to brief the local partner and engage in the local fieldwork process from beginning to end. Wherever possible, we try to meet local stakeholders and gain firsthand experience of local markets. "
 Ok then.


There have been a few glitches, as when they mistakenly mis-identified the NDP candidate as a Green Party candidate in a PCG National Research robocall poll in the London West election in July 2013 and no one could find out who had contracted the poll. 




And Steve's then Parliamentary Secretary Dean Del Mastro used parliamentary resources to have them do a poll in support of a former staffer who was a provincial Con candidate in Del Mastro's riding -  
which must be what the Cons mean in their Fair Elections Act when they say they want to see politicians push the vote instead of Elections Canada.

So ... questions about two robocall/voter contact companies' alleged collusion from an ex-candidate.

I do have some reservations about Ontario Candidate Watchdog's conclusions though :
"With potentially dozens of resellers all using Prime Contact's call centres and databases, including Electright, is it possible that this is the solution to the robocall mystery? Is the Derek that called me back in 2010 the real Pierre Poutine behind the voter suppression that confused tens of thousands of voters across Canada? Was it just a mistake, did Prime Contact call Liberal supporters by mistake with a suppression message, or did they just give the data to Electright?"
Mixed up the Lib and Con lists by mistake? No. Because what possible benefit would a list of wrong polling place addresses and phone numbers to make offensive phone calls be to anyone but the Cons for the purpose of misleading their opponents'  supporters - the ones who actually got those calls.
So no - no mistake.

Edited for typos, clarity.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Nigel Wright & Linda Frum in the Republican wayback machine

In a week that has featured ...

1) Nigel Wright let off the hook by the RCMP for bribing sitting legislator Senator Mike Duffy in spite of weeks of PMO discussions involving over a dozen senior party officials re buying Duffy's silence,    and 

2) Senator Linda Frum making the most idiotic and widely-mocked attack on Elections Canada over the Fair Elections Act to date, ie  that it is a conflict of interest for Elections Canada to both administer the vote during elections and encourage people to vote between elections, 

... it is fitting that Jay Watts III should dig up a piece of Canadian history that includes both Frum and Wright, as blogged by Brian Busby in a brilliant pair of blogposts that really should be savoured in their own right.

Seems in 1984, a rightwing Republican foundation confirmed it was funding several start-up campus publications in Canada among its 69 across North America. The Institute of Educational Affairs was set up by Irving Kristol, godfather of the US neoconservative movement, his fellow founding PNACer William Bennett, and William Simon, Reaganite, Richard Nixon's treasury secretary and board director of Halliburton Canada - and it bankrolled : 

~ University of Toronto Magazine, founded by Nigel Wright - already working in Muldoon's PMO - and his friend and classmate Tony "Gazebo" Clement, and
~ McGill Magazine and editor Linda Frum, daughter of CBC's Barbara Frum and sister to David "Axis of Evil" Frum
~ Libertas at Queens, run by the son of the CEO at the Bank of Montreal. 
The original Canadian University Press article says 7 other clones of Libertas appeared across Canadian campuses that month, including articles of *unusual access* for campus papers - like an interview with George Bush.

Nigel Wright told the Montreal Gazette at the time that he had "no misgivings about applying for and accepting money from the Republican foundation".
The only advice he could recall receiving from the foundation was a circular "suggesting we publish nothing to do with the John Birch Society."
 Right-wing paper covertly funded from US , also published as Republicans fund Ontario & Quebec right wing newspaper :
"We were happy to have help and advice from the Americans," said Nigel Wright. 
In 1982 the IEA and American Spectator, a prominent conservative newspaper, held a seminar for college students interested in starting or maintaining conservative newspapers. More than 40 students attended to hear speakers such as the Spectator's R. Emett Tyrell Jr lecture on taste and strategy. 
"Don't print Klu Klux Klan literature," Tyrell advised. 
IEA Executive Director Phillip Marcus suggested: "If someone accuses you of being racist or sexist, accuse them back of McCarthy tactics." 
One person contacted who attended that conference but asked not to be identified said: "They told me that when I was ready to go ahead publishing, I shouldn't worry about the money. They said they'd take care of that."
From such smug little acorns are whole governments sprouted, along with their bent senators and chiefs of staff and covert bribes and Republican-style voter suppression bills.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A message from the RCMP


CBC : Nigel Wright won't face charges over $90K payment to Mike Duffy 
The RCMP has ended its probe into Nigel Wright... 
Wright said in a statement to CBC News that he believed his actions were in the public interest and lawful.

"My intention was to secure the repayment of taxpayer funds," Wright said through his lawyer, Peter Mantas. He added that the RCMP's "detailed and thorough investigation has now upheld my position."
Quite the most brazen in self-serving nonsense -- the Senate certainly had no difficulty garnisheeing Senator Patrick Brazeau's wages in order to "secure the repayment of taxpayer funds".

Presumably the RCMP could not show that Wright stood to personally benefit from paying off Duffy to shut him up, while Steve, on behalf of whom this charade was perpetrated, knew nothing at all about it .

Well played all round in the best democracy money can buy.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Alise Mills works for British Columbians for Prosperity

Pipelines booster British Columbians for International Prosperity or BC4P, whose website DeSmogBlog noted 4 days ago "bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity"is "an independent group of concerned citizens looking to promote practical resource development" yadda yadda. They dropped the "International" from their brand name back in February :



They are not for "International Prosperity" any longer apparently. This is possibly due to their new campaign moneytrail.ca, which in turn bears a remarkable similarity to 
Ethical Oil's "Foreign Special Interests and Their Deep Pocket Puppets" campaign 
(and it would of course be entirely churlish of me to bring Koch up again by mentioning Ethical Oil founder Ezra Levant's internship with Koch here).
 "Wealthy American Foundations pump millions of dollars into campaigns to halt Canadian oil sands production and pipelines. The war on pipelines in BC is not about spirit bears and it's not about rain forests or climate change."
Not about spirit bears and rain forests. Got it.

Now when BC4IP/BC4P shot one of their pro-pipeline videos near my house last year, I assumed their "independent concerned citizens" consisted entirely of former ConocoPhillips and BP exec Bruce LoundsManagement Consulting in Heavy Oil / Tar Sands Sectorof North Vancouver and his website hosted in Chicago, Illinois:


But according to this Feb 25 article in 24 Hours by frequent CBC/CTV/SunNews panellist and commentator Alise Mills (excerpted)
"The war on pipelines in BC is not about spirit bears and rain forests. 

It is about America's economy.   
American foundations have spent millions to halt Canadian pipelines and oil production.We need to build pipelines so that we become sovereign architects of our own future. "
And a Dec 2013 BC4P press release applauding the Joint Review Panel's approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline was signed : Alise Mills, Media Relations Director.

Mills was on CBC's Power and Politics again this evening.

Honestly, CBC, I really think it's about time you mention she works for tarsands astroturfer BC4P at some point.
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Hey, Skippy, this is how it's done.

A picture of voters lining up for 6 hours to vote in the 2012 election in Democrat-heavy Miami-Dade Florida is accompanied by the caption :
"New rule prohibits voters in Miami-Dade from using the restroom, no matter how long the line."      h/t Kev

Apparently the decision to close all restrooms was a direct response to a request from a disability rights lawyer regarding the accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities. 

So now people with disabilities are not being especially singled out for discrimination and everyone is free to choose between voting and peeing. 

Well it's just crazy old Florida, right?  Couldn't happen here.

The thing I found interesting was - when did people stop being outraged about lining up for six hours to vote?
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P.S. Dear Google : Having typed the terms "Miami-Dade" and "restroom" into your search box, I have now received all the advertising I will ever require for PortaPotty and Depends. Thanks.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mic check, oh you glittering twitterati!


72 year old Ted Musson is walking the 5,000 kilometers from Victoria BC to Ottawa to protest election fraud, both in the 2011 federal election and now the Fair Elections Act. 

Two years ago, he gave up his subsidized apartment, bought a 1979 RV for $2000 and set out for Ottawa with a hand-painted sign on his back : 
Walking to Ottawa. Protesting illegal government.  

Health issues stalled him out in Lethbridge for the winter, but now he's back on the road, aiming for 15K a day on his pedometer and then doubling back to pick up the RV.

At this rate it will be a 10,000K hike to Ottawa. 


And this is where you come in.

His twitter account from Nov. 2012 has exactly 3 tweets and 1 follower.

If Mr Musson is to get drivers for his RV so he doesn't have to double back 15K on top of the 15K he's already logged for the day, you twitterati and facebookies between Lethbridge and Ottawa are going to have to work your magic and get the word out for him.

As he says on his woefully under-publicized blog, ElectionFraud2011
"Please help me raise awareness by either driving my RV for whatever length of time you would like, or by donating a small amount to keep me fed and watered…If you want to help, send me an email to electionfraud2011 *at* gmail.com to let me know when and where you are available."
 And there's a donation button.

"The ultimate goal is just to make the protest and be as loud and as obnoxious as I can going across the country,” Musson told the Lethbridge Herald last week.
“It occurred to me in about March of 2012, that the 2011 (election) was a fraud. The robocalls; the financial fraud. Harper will say anything knowing that he’s not going to do what he says. It’s an illegal government and there’s just no rational sense, in my mind, to believe that they’re anything other than an illegal government.”

So there's the challenge, you glittering twitterati and feisty facebookers.
How "loud and obnoxious" can you get on behalf of some guy with arthritis threatening to walk clear across the country while near 40% of the rest of us don't even vote. 

Friend him, drive him, donate to him, spread the word, bug Anna Maria Tremonti and Carol Off at CBC to do a piece or any local CBC along the way for that matter. . .
You know how to do this.

Thank you for reading.

h/t Toe in comments for the heads up.
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

Another reason to fight the Fair Elections Act



Duff Conacher, Founder of Democracy Watch, on the Fair Elections Act. 
Democracy Watch has a list of "10 really unfair measures in the so-called 'Fair Elections Act' " and a letter you can send to federal leaders hereC'mon, guys, surely we can do better than just 36,000 letters.  

The Cons' contention that the universally negative response to their Bill C-23 is uninformed and hysterical took a big hit today when former AG Sheila Fraser weighed in : 

Ex-watchdog Sheila Fraser slams bill as attack on democracy

'It's just astounding to me,' former auditor-general says of Tories' proposed election law overhaul
"Elections are the base of our democracy and if we do not have truly a fair electoral process and one that can be managed well by a truly independent body, it really is an attack on our democracy..."
Ok, on to my point ...

Fraser has a similar list of complaints to Conacher and also mentions another shortcoming I haven't seen much discussed - that the chief electoral officer will now have to seek prior Treasury Board approval to enter into contracts with people with specialized or technical knowledge.

In June 2011, EC investigator Alan Mathews was looking for Pierre Poutine among VOIPs and proxy servers - a field he knew nothing about. As he said in his ITO : "I relied upon [Simon] Rowland, a subject matter expert in the area of call center systems, telemessaging and telecom product development and network engineering." 

That subject matter expert was the one who provided this analysis
"So it's not just what was reported so far -- that the Poutine account and Prescott account were accessed by the same IP within 4 minutes of each other during the middle of this night. It's also that on three separate occasions, someone with both the Prescott and Poutine account passwords used the same browser window to log into both accounts."
I'm guessing if Elections Canada had had to go cap in hand to Tony Gazebo at the Treasury Board for permission to hire that guy and his "specialized or technical knowledge", it never would have been approved and we never would have heard anything about it.

‘Pierre Poutine’ robocalls case: Prescott has given evidence about Michael Sona, Ken Morgan 

and it ain't pretty but catch the explosive end of the McMaher piece :
A national investigation into allegations of dirty political calls has been under way for more than a year. Elections Canada had planned to wrap up that investigation by March 31. On Thursday, spokeswoman Diane Benson declined to say whether it is ongoing.
That report has been postponed until after the 2015 election because of the introduction of the Conservatives’ election bill.
The agency would not say when if ever it will report on the national robocalls investigation.
Friday 11am update : This morning the above McMaher story was changed in the two slightly different versions previously posted at NaPo and canada.com. and is only slightly less explosive.
The NaPo one, listing only Maher, now currently reads :
A national investigation into allegations of dirty political calls has been under way for more than a year. Elections Canada had planned to wrap up that investigation by March 31. On Thursday, spokeswoman Diane Benson declined to say whether it is ongoing.
The agency was expected to include information about that investigation in a “compliance and enforcement mechanisms” report to Parliament this spring.
Benson said the agency has decided not to report until after the next election.
“In light of the government’s announcement in the fall that it would introduce comprehensive legislative reform, Elections Canada decided to postpone the general enforcement report until after the next general election,” she said. “This was necessary not only to focus our attention and resources on the announced reform, but also of the difficulty of engaging stakeholders simultaneously on a parallel initiative.”
while the McMaher one on canada.com goes : 
An Elections Canada report on “compliance and enforcement mechanisms” that was scheduled for this spring has been postponed until after the 2015 election because of the introduction of the Conservatives’ election bill.
That report had been expected to include information on the national robocalls investigation. On Thursday, a spokesman for the agency would not say when any report on that investigation would be released.
 






with thanks to Salamander in comments for the updated version.

As deBeauxOs says It's #Harper's Fraudulent Voting Reform Act, another #CON!

Friday update :From yesterday: Trapped in a Whirlpool : Parliamentary Civil Disobedience. 
To the Opposition : Go big or go home, stand up for Canadians or be judged harshly by history.
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Monster in the Red Chamber


The monster Fair Elections Act, with its "sharper teeth, longer reach, and freer hands", is being fast-tracked to the Senate even before it passes in the House of Commons because Steve is in a huge rush to ram it - and its accompanying muzzling of Elections Canada's investigation into Con election fraud in the last election - through all the hoops in time for the next one in 2015.

If the senators here look fairly relaxed about having a monster in their midst, it's because they already know how this particular story ends. This is the same bunch, after all, who just three months ago voted 51- 30 against having Deloitte partner Michael Runia testify about a phone call he received from his contact Senator Irving Gerstein amid PMO interference in Deloitte's audit into Senator Mike Duffy.

Senator Claude Carignan, Con leader of the Red Chamber of sober second pre-thought, thinks it's "a very good bill"
“I don’t think the comments from the experts are appropriate,” he said. 
Some of the urgent changes "have to be adopted at the end of June if we want to have [them] in application for the next election.”
Yesterday Pierre Poilievre, addressed the Conservative senators in a private caucus meeting. CBC reported what the Con senators told them about it afterwards in what they termed an "Exclusive!:
"Conservative sources in the Senate tell the CBC's Hannah Thibedeau and Rosemary Barton that Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, is open to changing the section of Bill C-23 that would eliminate the practice of vouching at polling stations."
Even if this second hand info is true - Big whoop.
Con Negotiating 101 : 

1. Stick way more than you expect to get passed in a real stinker of a reactionary bill that, in addition to killing off vouching, includes 
  • gagging the head of Elections Canada; 
  • refusing him the power to compel testimony from suspected fraudsters; 
  • stopping EC projects to encourage voting; 
  • moving the investigator's office under Peter MacKay; 
  • giving national and local party winners of the previous election the right to nominate the returning officers and poll clerks for the next election
  • not including fundraising to previous supporters as a campaign expense; and 
  • raising campaign donation limits from $1000 to $5000 and $25,000. 
2. Be totally intractable about considering any changes at all - very important step.

3. When all the experts - including your own, international press, and even the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, which has endorsed Harper in every election, thinks the bill should be outright scrapped -


it's time to simulate some good faith by giving way on one point to stem the outcry, thereby looking like you have caved a bit to opposition while still getting most of your boatload of backward bs past them.

Thursday Update : Hill Times
Mr. Poilievre indicated on Wednesday that reports might have been incorrect to indicate he was open to amendments—at least to replace vouching with a new system for electors without sufficient ID rather than offering no special measures at all.“I’ll let you know in a month when the committee actually reviews its amendments,” Mr. Poilievre told reporters. “And I think the bill’s terrific the way it is ...".
Toon monster in the Senate based on Ghostbusters character.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Harper's Perps with Perks #10


Welcome Dimitri Soudas, Steve's one time comm. director, campaign tactician, faithful dog since their Reform days, and as of yesterday, Steve's former executive director of the Con Party of Canada after only four months on the job for using his exec position and the Cons CIMS database to try to shoehorn his fiancĂ©e Con MP Eve Adams onto an unwilling riding association. Then when the 10-year Con regional director Wally Butts objected to Eve-meddling, Soudas fired him.

Ironically, Soudas had to be shoehorned into the Con Party exec job himself by Steve, "over the protests of cabinet ministers and national council members." 

Seems like only yesterday that Soudas was hiding out for days from HoC bailiffs looking to serve him with a summons to appear before the Ethics Committee regarding allegations of "systematic political interference". Sadly, his eventual appearance before that committee in 2010 was aborted by a fire alarm going off just as he was scheduled to appear.

This time there was no fire alarm. It all happened so quickly on Sunday there wasn't even time for Pierre Poilievre to go on national tv to explain to us that Soudas was actually a hero for saving taxpayer money by personally running Eve's campaign out of the CPC exec director's office ... or something ... like he did after Nigel Wright's firing/departure.

Now it's true that unlike other Perps, Soudas hasn't been accused or convicted of bribing anyone or defrauding the government of millions of dollars or covering up election fraud or fiddling Senate audits or campaign expenses, but we can't have party honchos foisting girlfriends on unwilling local riding associations and firing people who object. 

On Saturday Soudas' twitter feed featured a picture :  "A Soviet spy laughs at his executioner in Finland, 1942."    Hmm ...  He'll be back inside the ever diminishing cadre of Steve's personal firewall soon enough I'll bet. 


So this tenth Parade of Perps with Perks marks the one year anniversary since I started collecting them. 
You can too - Special anniversary boxed set.  OK, that didn't work so here's the regular bargain bin boxed set.
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