Some commentators have suggested that, after the Michael Sona trial, no political party would be stupid enough to try any robocall shenanigans. Linda McQuaig has her doubts:
If you’re a low-level political operative, the conviction of Conservative party staffer Michael Sona for his role in the robocall scandal may well have deterred you from committing voter fraud in the future.
But if you’re a high-level political operative, the outcome of Sona’s trial probably left you emboldened.
After all, even though one judge concluded that there was deliberate organization behind the effort to misdirect voters, and another judge concluded that Michael Sona could not have acted alone, the Harperites managed to shut the whole investigation down:
Certainly, the Conservatives seem to have dodged a bullet. After months of investigation and court proceedings into allegations of an organized attempt to send non-Conservatives to the wrong polling stations on election day in May 2011, the party itself has emerged with (technically) clean hands.
Blame for the scandal was meted out solely to Sona, the former party operative in Guelph who was sentenced to nine months imprisonment and released on bail this week.
Avoiding any responsibility was no small feat for the Conservative party, given how strongly the evidence pointed to some sort of organized scheme, presumably involving the authorization — or at least the tacit co-operation — of high-level officials within the party.
And with the "Fair" Elections Act now in place, they have made sure that there will be no further investigations:
That’s because the government’s controversial election reform package includes a section that prevents the Commissioner of Elections from revealing any details about investigations being conducted by Elections Canada.
The robocalls came to light only because, after receiving complaints of electoral irregularities (primarily involving Guelph), the Commissioner of Elections began to investigate and filed a court application related to that investigation. After the details of the application were picked up by the media, there was a flood of complaints from citizens across the country reporting they received similar misleading phone calls on election day.
Had the new “muzzling” rule been in place, the application filed by the Commissioner would have been sealed, preventing the public from knowing about the initial investigation — the trigger that prompted the nationwide response, allowing the public to see a larger pattern of possible voter suppression.
There is a method to their madness. And make no mistake. It's madness.