It was almost comical yesterday to watch the Conservatives frantically insist that any election fraud was limited to the riding of Guelph -- and that it was purely accidental:
Conservative partisans tried on Friday to tamp down the notion that the problem was bigger than Guelph, releasing records of calls made by an unknown operative who hid behind the alias Pierre Poutine. These records, provided to select journalists Friday, showed that thousands of calls were made to residents of Guelph, and that more than 140 stray calls were dialled to ridings outside the Southern Ontario city – likely in error.
Ignore, for the moment, that this information was "provided to select journalists." Concentrate on the phrase "in error." And, while Conservatives claim a few insignificant mistakes, details about how badly the Conservatives wanted to win Geulph -- and how the campaign was managed from the centre -- keep coming out:
From the onset of last year’s federal election, Guelph was a riding to watch. The national Conservative campaign dispatched Mr. Harper to the city west of Toronto, and several prominent Conservative MPs, including Jim Flaherty and Jason Kenney, visited to lend their support.
Rookie Tory candidate Marty Burke’s prospects of winning appeared strong, with early polling suggesting the airline pilot was within 900 to 1,200 votes of knocking off popular Liberal incumbent Frank Valeriote, a source familiar with the campaign said. But centralized control over messaging frustrated the Guelph team, former campaign workers noted. Mr. Burke, known as a blunt talker, was told to stick to the party’s script.
“The Marty Burke campaign was a stressed-out campaign,” a source said. “It was a campaign that was micromanaged in Ottawa.”
Even as the Conservatives try to argue that there was a rogue lose in Guelph, it becomes increasingly clear that the rogue was loose in Ottawa.