Robocalls controversy hits Egmont

Teresa Wright
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At least two households in the western P.E.I. riding say they received calls from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada saying their polling station had been changed

Egmont riding in Prince Edward Island

Two P.E.I. households received robocalls during the last federal election from someone claiming to be from Elections Canada saying polling stations had been changed.

Robert Gallant, the vice president of the Liberal riding association in Egmont, said he has heard from two Islanders who say they got these calls on or just prior to election day.

One of the calls was made to a couple in Mont Carmel, one of whom spoke to The Guardian under a condition of anonymity.

The woman said she usually hangs up on automated calls of any kind, but only stayed on the line to listen to the entire message when it identified it was coming from Elections Canada.

"That was what grabbed my attention enough to say, ‘I need to hold onto this call," she said.

"Then as they were talking, I remember thinking, ‘Geez. It's pretty close to the election for something like this.' Then by the time the message was over and I realized they were telling me I had to go somewhere else to vote, it wasn't a real person so I couldn't ask (why)."

The caller said their polling station had been moved from Mont Carmel to Miscouche.

The couple checked their voter information card, which said nothing of a poll change, so they went to their proper polling station believing they could find out there if a switch had indeed been made. No change had been made and they voted as usual.

The woman said she did not register a complaint about the incident at the time but always had a bad feeling about it.

"It was something that I felt didn't seem right."

Questions about similar automated phone calls on election day in ridings across the country have been swirling for days, with the main concern being whether calls leading voters to incorrect voting locations could have influenced the outcome of some races. Elections Canada and the RCMP are investigating the robocalls.

National Revenue Minister and Egmont MP Gail Shea confirmed last week she did use robocalls during the spring federal election campaign, but says they were legitimate. It is not known whether the calls the Mont Carmel couple received came from the firm hired by Shea.

"It was something that I felt didn't seem right," Mont Carmel voter

The Mont Carmel woman said she has now filed an official complaint with Elections Canada over the call she received and has received confirmation they got her letter. Elections Canada is now in the process of investigating 31,000 similar complaints so the couple may have awhile to wait before someone probes her specific concerns.

"We don't have a proof, we don't have a recording, so this is why it's been harder to want to even call to talk about this," the Mont Carmel woman said.

"But I decided that this is something that is so important because it is truly, truly the foundation of the democratic system."

Gallant said he recently heard from another P.E.I. man who also got an automated call purporting to be from Elections Canada. The call was made to his cottage in the Malpeque riding, however, and he didn't get the message until after the election. Gallant said he's hoping to get access to the man's answering machine to see if the message can be retrieved.

In the meantime, the Liberal riding association in Egmont is organizing a meeting for residents to see if any other calls were received and to let people know what the party plans to do going forward. Details of this meeting have not yet been finalized.

Gallant says he believes a full public inquiry should be launched, given the wide scope of these robocalls and the concern they place over results of the federal election.

"I'd like to see a public inquiry because it would get to more of what happened, I believe. It would help the public to have more of an idea of what really went on here," Gallant said.

 

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

Organizations: Elections Canada, RCMP

Geographic location: Mont Carmel, Egmont, P.E.I. Miscouche Malpeque

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Recent comments

  • silly ninny
    March 09, 2012 - 03:01

    Will you liberals stop whining you lost the elections Gail Shea won by how much over 4000 votes. It is elections canada who draw up the voters list. Having worked at a number of both Federal Elections and Provincial election Vote counting is always done with great care. with both liberal and conservatives doing the counting. How come it is just coming to light now If there were so many mistakes why wasnt it brought up before now. We all get stupid phone calls but we have to listen to them. I was asked if I was voting for the liberal candidate in our aera big joke who was he anyway. Let get on with the real important issues. We live in a tech age and maybe we need to go back and call in the old fashioned way.

  • real-islander
    March 07, 2012 - 17:39

    Two phone calls Rita. .. maybe you should think about resigning to the fact that MsShea has the best interest at. heart when it comes to Egmont. Resign ? Why because she is not Liberal

  • Billy
    March 07, 2012 - 10:05

    Who ever, from elections Canada, said there were over 30000 complaints! As I understand it there over 30000 responses, or clicks from the two web sights. This is the reason Elections Canada is producing the "complaint form" so individuals can complain and identify themselves so it can be followed up. So start filling out the complaint forms folks and forget about the important things like Education, Medical care etc.

  • Ghoulman
    March 07, 2012 - 08:45

    *Ahem*, it's not a win if you cheat. It's not whinning to point out cheating. Funny how children get this yet some adults do not. Egmont was highly contested and Shea's win was only after a recount. Considering that even a few votes could have made the difference between winning and loosing the seat I reckon the importance of this story is obvious.

  • real-islander
    March 07, 2012 - 08:10

    This Guy ...guy took a kicking but keeps on ticking....give it up.. Gaill has more integrity in one short body than the whole Liberal party of P.E.I. Play politics as low as you want .. maybe you can get some Ad company to SPONSOR that

    • frank white
      March 07, 2012 - 09:52

      it's ignorant to think that because some former liberals were involved in adscam that we should be satisfied with someone only slightly better than lying liberals. I demand MORE from local politicians, and Gail (along with lying liberals - but that's the past, we must focus on the right now) sadly do not make the cut. We need more from our MPs irregardless of political stripe. WE DON'T NEED SOMEONE PLAYING ROLLOVER FOR THE FÜHRER OF ALBERTA!

  • John M. from Stratford
    March 07, 2012 - 07:39

    Are you kidding me? You are reporting on someone who will not come public. THIS IS A JOKE!! No wonder your readership continues to fall!

  • Michael Le Clair
    March 07, 2012 - 07:36

    What i find particularly disturbing by this story is Gail Shea's characterization of the whole sordid affair as 'silly rhetoric". Her attempt to brush off this robocall Tory policy is unsettling. With well over 30,000 complaints already registered with Elections Canada, it is clear this is a major issue, To find that a major Canadian political party would see this kind of electioneering as acceptable is a danger to the very foundation of our democratic form of government. This scandal undermines the very democracy in which Shea was seeking high office. While visiting my mom in West Prince i received two calls. One a robocall pre-porting to be a representative of the Liberal candidate. This call came late at night, was rude and could not pronounce the candidates name. At the time i thought only that the Liberals had fallen on very hard times. But now I understand that calls like this were being used throughout the nation to annoy potential voters of the non-Tory electorate. The other call was a recorded message from the Leader of the Liberal party inviting the household to attend an event in Summerside that he would be attending. We as a nation have to get to the bottom of this issue, as it needs to be fully understood, and if the allegations are, in fact, true - we have a federal government that is willing to go to any length, legal or not, in order to attain and maintain power. This is anything but 'silly rhetoric' and Ms. Shea's characterization as such does great damage to her political credibility and will impact on her political fortunes going forward.

    • Rita Jackson
      March 07, 2012 - 10:10

      I am a Veteran I served my country for 25 years. My brothers-in-arms defended Democracy all over the world. What I see here in my own country is a shame and disgrace. I called Minister Shea's office and asked Minister Shea to release all the information so that Elections Canada can determine what happened. If she is involved in any way, she must resign and face the consequences. Which would be: a by-election in Egmont, possible trial and a possible jail term. If Minister Shea has any honour she will give every shred of evidence to Elections Canada and face the voters. What does the Conservative Party have to hide?

  • roboservative
    March 06, 2012 - 21:58

    A win is a win no matter what. ha ha suckers

    • John
      March 06, 2012 - 22:26

      Win a majority at whatever cost was Harpers message . Looks like Gail Shea a true soldier took advantage and followed the message . To spend $ 7500 on this riding is a disgrace , She probally knows everyone personally and to spend this amount on Robocalls is a clear indication of the low point of our current election process .

    • The Facilitaor
      March 07, 2012 - 08:19

      You're obviously a Liberal pretending to be a Conservative trying to make the Conservatives look bad. Why is your behaviour any different from someone pretending they are from Elections Canada? Shame on you!!

  • Greeneyed Monster
    March 06, 2012 - 21:15

    I got a call too. It Said, vote Liberal because we are going to cry and whine and do just about anything possible to discredit anyone in our path to entitlement.

    • Ron
      March 07, 2012 - 07:29

      Right On GREENEYED MONSTER. What a bunch of crybabies, Two more Liberal hacks jumping on the bandwagon. So sad.

  • Slip
    March 06, 2012 - 21:04

    Another liberal media no name reporting.

    • ross
      March 07, 2012 - 07:51

      Slip, unless of course you're a troll, what does anonymity have to do with the liberal media? Fox News cites anonymous sources all the time, are they too part of this liberal media. Me think a troll is a afoot. Also, there's a delicious irony to the fact you yourself do not put your name out there.