The underlying situation is the same. If the voters stay home in the USA, that benefits the Republicans. If the voters stay home in Canada, that benefits the Conservatives. Thus, any sort of tactic that keeps Canadian voters home, up to and including dirty tricks, will disproportionately favour Stephen Harper and his party in the upcoming election.
What has been happening in this election—and it has been happening a lot—is that people have been receiving harassing phone calls in the middle of the night, automated voices urging them to vote Liberal, sometimes using the Liberal candidate’s voice. The purpose of the technique, which has been used before primarily by the Republican Party of the United States, is to anger voters into staying home on election day.
In Canada, the harassing phone calls have been happening mostly in ridings where a low voter turnout might be enough to tip the balance in favour of the Conservative candidate. Complaints have been coming into Elections Canada from the ridings of Oakville, St. Catherines, Haldimand-Norfolk, Simcoe Grey, Guelph, Eglinton-Lawrence, St. Paul’s and Mississauga East-Cooksville in Ontario, Egmont in P.E.I. and St. Boniface in Manitoba.
Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have said that it isn’t them making or arranging the calls. Given that they are the only party which stands to benefit from the situation, some people doubt that.
“I assume, like the American parties, that there are shadow organizations that are directly aligned with both the Conservatives and the Liberals and that with a straight face the leaders of the two parties could say ‘we have nothing to do with this’,” said Ronald Shaiko, a senior fellow at Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire who is familiar with the employment of such tactics in US politics.
And let’s not be coy. For reasons already given, it’s more than likely supporters of the Conservatives who are arranging the calls, just like it’s more likely to be Republicans doing it south of the border. Stephen Harper is a Republican Mini-Me anyway, who appears to want to throw his own Canadian Tea Party.
And nobody but the Conservatives will win if the voters stay home.
So Canadians shouldn’t stay home. No one should be discouraged from voting on election day. A true Canadian democracy says no to dirty tricks, whoever is pulling them off.
It is simply outrageous for a government of Canada, any government, to be elected because of dirty tricks.
Let’s vote to prevent it.