Yukon News

Misleading robocalls rang in Yukon

Genesee Keevil Wednesday March 21, 2012

Ian Stewart/Yukon News

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Yukon MP Ryan Leef during the federal election in April 2011. Some Yukoners received calls directing them to the wrong polling station during the election.

The Conservative robocall controversy has surfaced in the Yukon.

Two weeks before the last federal election, Bob Nardi received a call asking if he was voting Conservative.

He wasn’t.

Then, just a few days before Yukoners went to the polls, the Nardis received another call telling them that their polling station had been moved from the Hidden Valley School to the Hootalinqua Fire Hall.

It didn’t make a lot of sense to the Nardis, who have lived in the area for more than 20 years and had never voted at the fire hall.

So Nardi checked online and discovered that, in fact, voting was still taking place at the school.

“It’s one of those things you just shrug off,” said Nardi in an interview this week.

But after the robocall controversy surfaced, “the light went on,” he said.

The Nardis contacted Elections Canada about the misleading call. “And Elections Canada called us back twice, and interviewed us for about 20 minutes each time,” said Nardi.

But he still wanted more answers.

So Nardi posted his experience on Yukon MP Ryan Leef’s Facebook page.

His first post didn’t make it to Leef’s wall.

So Nardi tried again.

“It’s important not to overlook the fact that robocalls were also made here in the Yukon,” he wrote.

“Perhaps I missed it, but I haven’t seen you make any public comments on the fraudulent calls made to voters before the last election.

“Since, at this point, there is no way to know who made these calls, this comment does not point a finger at you or anyone else,” added Nardi.

“However, since the election was so very close, the calls could indeed have influenced the result.

“Will you tell me if you are co-operating with Elections Canada’s effort to investigate these calls, and let me know what steps you might be taking to discover if the calls were made by Conservative Party supporters?”

Nardi’s post went up late Saturday, but it didn’t stay for long. By Tuesday, it had been deleted from Leef’s Facebook page.

“That’s disturbing,” said Nardi. “Leef hasn’t answered me, which is troubling, and now he’s deleted my posts.”

Leef’s campaign was a client of Responsive Marketing Group Inc., a company hired by 95 Conservative campaigns during the last federal election.

In the lead-up to the election, RMG staff were asked to read scripts telling selected voters that Elections Canada had changed their voting locations, according to three former RMG employees interviewed last month by the Toronto Star.

One employee was so concerned that something was amiss, she said she reported it to her supervisor at the RMG site, to the RCMP office in Thunder Bay, Ont., and to a toll-free Elections Canada number at the time, according to the Star.

Annette Desgagne, 46, said it became clear to her - after so many people complained that the “new” voting locations made no sense or were “way the hell across town” - that the live operators were, in fact, misdirecting voters, the Star reported.

On its website, RMG says: “Whether it’s raising more money or winning more votes: Bottom line ... we get results.”

Leef’s campaign paid RMG $8,143.80, according to his candidate financial report, filed with Elections Canada.

“Things are starting to snowball,” said Nardi, who posted his concerns on his own Facebook page after they were deleted from Leef’s.

And Nardi added another post: “Did anyone out there (or anyone you know) receive a call on election day claiming that their polling station had been moved?”

Local resident Sylvie Leonard responded.

“I do remember getting phone calls asking if I supported the Conservatives,” she wrote.

“I said no. Then I remember getting a phone call on election day regarding the polling station.”

The call informed Leonard that her polling station had moved.

“I thought it was strange because I had already voted at the advanced poll ... too bad I didn’t report it or save it.”

Like the Nardis, Leonard originally “shrugged it off.”

“I thought it was a one-off,” she wrote. “But now I see a similar pattern to Bob’s story.”

Nardi isn’t sure why his household got a call.

“If we’d been the only ones, that would have been really weird,” he said.

At first, Nardi hoped Leef would come up with a good explanation.

“You tend not to ascribe nefarious motives,” he said.

But now, he’s not so sure.

“I’m not sure I’d buy that it was an accident,” he said. “That’s stretching it a little.”

Leef won his Yukon seat with just 33.7 per cent of the vote. He received 5,422 votes, defeating incumbent Liberal Larry Bagnell, who finished with 5,290. The difference was 132 votes.

“It was really close,” said Nardi.

“And that’s concerning because you start to wonder if there were enough of these calls to sway the election.”

“It’s really upsetting,” said Nardi. “I can’t believe this is going on here.”

Leef was not available for comment, according to both his Ottawa and Whitehorse offices.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

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32 Comments

Yukoner wrote:
3:03am Tuesday March 27, 2012

The Yukon Party and Leef (all PCs) are just politicians “someone who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making” - They are not humanitarians and they can’t sustain their positions by sticking to strong, personal ethics.

The PCs bought off the Liberals in BC, re HST - These days, anything (A-NY-THING) goes. It’s all about the money/power combination. Voters think they have a choice, but they simply pick their favorite puppet, with strings running through Ottawa to the G20, for international, economic positioning and control.

Leef wouldn’t be on the need to know list for this issue. I suspect he’s waiting for the big boys to make it go away, though.

gadinsky wrote:
11:40pm Monday March 26, 2012

What happened to Mr. Leef being on CBC this morning at 7:40? Oh wait… did he get an anonymous phone call directing him to the wrong radio station?

mlehner wrote:
6:12pm Friday March 23, 2012

@Stephen: I should have been a bit more clear in my last response. It is possible for someone to delete their own comments from a Facebook page, in this case, Mr. Leef’s Facebook page. Again, I do not know what transpired, so we will need to wait for Mr. Leef to comment. I am also not suggesting that someone deleted their own posts, I’m simply indicating that it is possible to do.

gadinsky wrote:
5:20pm Friday March 23, 2012

@flying fur:

Well said. Harper will only draw more suspicion from Canadians if he continues to downplay, minimize and obfuscate on this issue. The correct response is outrage and an immediate investigation.

flyingfur wrote:
4:12pm Friday March 23, 2012

Gunache:  Please let us know of ANY such calls to people that intended to vote Conservative, let the survey/solicitation company know that during the conversation, and then recieved misdirection afterward about the “location” of the polling station.  To suggest that anyone who intended to vote Conservative might also have received these calls, and that somehow the Conservative numbers could have been higher if not for this, is simply conjecture on your part on totally outside the realm of what is really going on.  That said, if anyone, regardless of who they intended to vote for or whether they communicated this to the callers, got these kinds of calls the half-assed response by Harper is not good enough when the democratic process in Canada is being subverted like it appears to be.  Canadians need to have faith in the system; if there’s nothing to this then an investigation will show that.  If there is something to it, an investigation will show that as well.  Hiding it and ignoring it as Harper has done is side-stepping his responsibilities and making a mockery of how we elect our government.

Guncache wrote:
3:15pm Friday March 23, 2012

It is obvious that most of these letters are not from Conservatives but from sore losers.  Did you not think that if in fact these robo calls happened that maybe some Conservative voters were directed to the wrong polls also and perhaps the Conservative count should be much higher. Maybe you would like to have the Liberal government and they would continue with the $3 billion dollar plus ineffective gun registry or the Chretien Liberal government who paid 750 million dollars (and climbing) for the ill fated British subs or the NDP party who loves to invent social programs for dead beats and pay with your hard working dollar.

BoredOnTheCorner wrote:
1:41pm Friday March 23, 2012

Okay to those deniers who claim there’s no evidence…

1) The calls have all been traced to companies or staffers THAT ONLY WORKED FOR THE CONSERVATIVES.

2) The Conservatives made undeclared payments to said staffers.
3) Only the Conservatives have flat out obstructed this investigation.
4) Only the Conservatives have mocked the idea of a stolen election.
5) The calls ONLY went out to people who’d already said they would not vote Conservative.

6) At least a few Conservative staffers have been fired for this affair already.

7) MP Dean Del Mastro was specifically revealed to have made misleading phone calls HIMSELF during the election.

No matter how you slice it, the only party with any solid links to this behaviour—and who gained from it in any way—was the Conservative Party.

Doug Rutherford wrote:
1:32pm Friday March 23, 2012

I know of three people for sure, from three different polling areas now, who were asked if they were voting Conservative and then got calls saying their polls were moved. My wife got one of the calls asking if we were supporting the Conservatives and refused to answer so we didn’t get a poll change call.

My question is: did anyone who answered that they were supporting the Conservative Party get a false call from Elections Canada regarding a moved poll?

Stephen wrote:
6:55am Friday March 23, 2012

@mlehner: thank you kindly for your reply.  It is against the Facebook Terms of Service to share your login/password with another person.  We’ll have to wait I suppose for Mr. Leef to account for his Facebook activity.  Regards.

David wrote:
2:38am Friday March 23, 2012

Let’s face it.  The current government masquerading as “Conservatives” is a gang of political thugs and must be thrown out of office in the next election.  Canada is under very serious threat from within.

redneck bob wrote:
2:37am Friday March 23, 2012

I can’t believe anyone is surprised by this. This fits perfectly into the strategy of the Federal Conservatives and the Yukon Party…ie. Do and say anything to get elected and piss on anyone who objects. It’s sleezy, slimey and you’ve got to wonder if they have souls….but you’ve got to hand it to them. They are smart, rich, and most importantly really EFFECTIVE.

north of 60 wrote:
12:41am Friday March 23, 2012

After 13 years of Liberal rule, including the Yukon, I’ve become very skeptical and wary of their tactics and intentions.  They had no problem ignoring the Charter of Rights when it suited their agenda. Bill C68 for example.

Like Rick Mercer suggested we need an objective review of this whole situation by the Governor General.  Only then can we evaluate the actual facts and hold informed opinions.  If wrongdoing was involved, lets see the irrefutable proof, and if there was criminal activity then charges should be laid.

susie rogan wrote:
12:29am Friday March 23, 2012

I know Bob and his wife Gail.  They are extremely honest people and private people.  There is no way they are making this up.  The posters here suggesting they are ‘sore losers’ or ‘me too’ers’, have no idea who they are talking about.  The fact that Ryan or his fb lackies deleted Bob’s posts is pathetic.  You would think Ryan would be the first to want to get to the bottom of this!  I am really unimpressed by the ham-handed treatment of these fine people, and good citizens, who stepped forward with an extremely legitimate concern.  Both by our brand new Conservative MLA, and by some of the posters in this forum.

Joel wrote:
11:51pm Thursday March 22, 2012

So North of 60 has never had a call from a pollster asking if he/she was going to vote for party X?  I get them every election.  “Can Mr. X count on your support?”  “Will you be voting for Party Y on election day?”

The incredible thing is not the support calls, it is the Elections Canada calls that were not from Elections Canada. 

And no, if I got a crap call from a political party I would not automatically thing to call Elections Canada.  I would hang up and be done with it…just the same as other junk calls.

gadinsky wrote:
11:04pm Thursday March 22, 2012

@ Stephen:

How can M.r Leef be out of range of cellular telephone and internet access while still being able to delete Facebook postings?  Doesn’t add up.

Simple. RoboFaceBook.

mlehner wrote:
10:36pm Thursday March 22, 2012

@Stephen: You’re assuming that it was Mr. Leef himself that deleted the postings. We don’t know that. That said, I don’t know what transpired on his Facebook page, so I can’t really comment on it.

Nick wrote:
10:04pm Thursday March 22, 2012

I find it hard to believe Canadians everywhere are making it all up. Elections Canada needs to hurry! The RepubliCONS are ruining our country

Stephen wrote:
8:25pm Thursday March 22, 2012

How can M.r Leef be out of range of cellular telephone and internet access while still being able to delete Facebook postings?  Doesn’t add up.

mlehner wrote:
4:45pm Thursday March 22, 2012

@gadinsky: Mr. Leef is tending to a private matter. Specifically, he is currently not in range of cellular communications, or internet access.

@Sally Smith: I work in Mr. Leef’s Whitehorse constituency office. I am unaware of any deletions on his Facebook page, therefore I cannot comment on that. My comment that Mr. Leef will be on CBC was merely to be informative, for those who are interested in listening to the discussion that will take place. That said, Mr. Leef strives to respond to all comments and questions made to his Facebook page, e-mailed to him, send to him via mail, etc. This is why I informed everyone that he is away from the office and unable to respond, it is not that he is ignoring anyone.

Moose Dr. wrote:
3:50pm Thursday March 22, 2012

North of 60: Until verifiable evidence from Elections Canada is produced then these stories are nothing more than hearsay.  We’ve seen this sort of ‘truth embellishment’  from ‘sore losers’ before, so until hard evidence of wrongdoing is produced, this is just more of the same.  Consider the source, and their proven agenda.

Well said.  Accusations are a lot easier to make than frauds are to pull.  While it is rather clear that some shenanigans went on with robo-calling in the last election, it is likely that 95% of the complaints are of the “me too” sort—not “true”.  The 5% remaining, however, still raise an important concern.

Michael Tillmann wrote:
8:42am Thursday March 22, 2012

This is a disturbing piece of information. If true, there may have been an effort to suppress the vote here in Yukon.  It certainly deserves looking into, and I hope the politicians of all parties are honest and forthright in dealing with any investigation conducted by Elections Canada.

I’m sick of political games where people refuse to give straight answers to questions.

gadinsky wrote:
6:52am Thursday March 22, 2012

@north of 60:

“Until verifiable evidence from Elections Canada is produced then these stories are nothing more than hearsay.”

Really?

Call it “truth embellishment” if you like, but notice that the word “truth” appears in there.

Someone with a vested interest in the Conservative Party is behind the attempts (let’s just call them THAT for now) to mislead voters. Even if just THAT MUCH is true (and it IS), every single Canadian deserves to be outraged over a deliberate act intended to undermine the fairness of the electoral process.


How are the stories “incredible” exactly? Is it incredible that someone would believe that a political party would make phone calls to ask for your support? Outrageous!

Had I been one to have received one of these calls I probably would have chalked it up to an honest mistake. I wouldn’t even begin to think that a political party in Canada would stoop to such a snakelicking level as to mislead a potential anti-voter.

How DARE you suggest that the onus is on those who decry this intentional, malicious act to produce PROOF that it ACTUALLY skewed the election results. The very fact that the attempt was made is heinous enough.

Polled Bull wrote:
5:07am Thursday March 22, 2012

So glad you came forward and I sure hope every Canadian that was tampered with like this will do the same. All the evidence points in only one direction and the magnitude of the anti-voter campaign is stunning. The hubris of those behind this will be their downfall. I have not seen such corruption in Canadian politics in 35 years of voting. And I see the Harper trolls are right of top of it here. When the light shines into the darkness the darkness comprehends it not.

truetagish wrote:
3:10am Thursday March 22, 2012

the liberals and NDP shouldnt be too quick to point fingers remember Vicileaks anyone???

north of 60 wrote:
2:44am Thursday March 22, 2012

Great stories, very entertaining, and quite incredible.  Who would tell an anonymous phone caller how they’re going to vote or not?  More importantly if someone was misdirected to the wrong polling station by someone they believed was representing Elections Canada, and did indeed fail to vote because of that, it’s reasonable to believe that they would have complained to Elections Canada, and that complaint would be a verifiable matter of record. 

Until verifiable evidence from Elections Canada is produced then these stories are nothing more than hearsay.  We’ve seen this sort of ‘truth embellishment’  from ‘sore losers’ before, so until hard evidence of wrongdoing is produced, this is just more of the same.  Consider the source, and their proven agenda.

Sally Smith wrote:
2:18am Thursday March 22, 2012

@mlehner Are you Mister Leef’s official spokesperson? Why would Mr. Nardi’s posts be deleted on Facebook? Seems awfully suspicious to me. Our MP answers to the people, not Sandy Coleman on CBC. Doesn’t matter if he is on the radio or not.

gadinsky wrote:
1:03am Thursday March 22, 2012

@mlehner: Where IS Mr. Leef that he is so off the grid? More to the point, who was it that deleted the Facebook posts?

Patrick wrote:
12:25am Thursday March 22, 2012

Why would a company direct their workers to make illegal phone calls?

1/ They supported the Conservatives.
2/ They were paid to do so by the Conservatives.
3/ They just wanted to deliver positive results.

Seems to me its a simple trail for investigators. First question is who wrote the scripts for the people making the calls? Second question to the authors is why did you do this. Third question is who knew you were misdirecting Canadian voters.

Lets get this investivation completed.

A Little Bird wrote:
12:09am Thursday March 22, 2012

Michael Lauer just might be able to “help” in this mystery.

mlehner wrote:
12:00am Thursday March 22, 2012

Mr. Leef is away from the office and does not have access to e-mail, Facebook or the internet. That said, he WILL be on CBC radio Monday morning (March 26th) at 7:40am with Sandy Coleman.

Joel wrote:
10:42pm Wednesday March 21, 2012

Yes, Ryan will listen and be available to Yukoners; he will do what the people want and not what the party tells him…wasn’t that the claim before the election?

Haven’t heard much from him since that time

Doug Rutherford wrote:
9:46pm Wednesday March 21, 2012

I would have assumed he would be quite quick in his response to this. Why not?

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