Election robocalls hit Fredericton, Saint John
A thousand complaints to Elections Canada a few days ago turned into tens of thousands on Friday.
Here in New Brunswick, CBC News has now spoken to six people who say they got misleading calls on or shortly before the May 2 federal election.
And there are reports of others.
Lori Bruce of Fredericton said she got a call on the Saturday before the election.
"I hung up the phone and I called up Elections Canada and told them what happened and said I wanted to verify that my voting location is indeed where my voter's card says it is," Bruce said.
"The lady that answered the phone there told me that the location had not changed and that was not the first call like that that she had received that day."
The caller identified himself as working for Stephen Harper and Keith Ashfield of the Conservative Party, Bruce said.
Bruce said she got a second call on election day from the same number. Someone was seeking her support for Ashfield, the Fredericton Conservative candidate.
Bruce said she asked the caller why she'd been told her polling place had changed and the caller hung up. She then called the number back and got an answering machine for the Conservative Party.
She then went to a website called 800notes, a reverse number lookup database for consumers. She added her comments to others who had recieved calls from that number.
Bruce said she knew all along she wouldn't be supporting her local Conservative candidate, Keith Ashfield. And when he knocked on her door, she's pretty sure the candidate left understanding he shouldn't count on her vote.
Rothesay's Dann Downes said he also made no secret of the fact that his household is not one where the governing party could expect to get any votes.
"We received a phone call asking if the Conservatives could count on our support. And we actually said, 'Absolutely not,'" Downes said.
Downes said that if further proof were needed he had an NDP sign on his lawn.
"And then a couple of days before the election, I received a phone call saying that the polling station had been either changed or relocated to a location in Rothesay," he said.
Downes said that the impression he got from the call was that the polling station itself had moved. He called and was assured that it had not. He didn't think much about the automated message until he heard news reports this week.
CBC News also spoke to a woman in Shediac who said she and three neighbours got automated calls.
Responsive Marketing Group in Miramichi
Several people have reported misleading live calls or recorded messages directing them to the wrong polling stations from Fredericton and Saint John.
Responsive Marketing Group, the call centre at the heart of an Elections Canada investigation, operates a call center in Miramichi.
RMG was hired by at least three of this province's MPs, including Tilly O'Neill Gordon of Miramichi, Mike Allen of Tobique-Mactaquac and Saint John Conservative MP Rodney Weston, who won his riding by 7,000 votes.
Jason Stephen, who managed Weston's campaign, said they paid RMG $15,000 during the campaign to have call centre workers call homes in the riding to identify potential supporters and encourage people to vote.
He said there are no indications of dirty tricks in the riding. "We've got friends in all camps. I mean, we all believe in the democratic process," he said.
NDP candidate Rob Moir placed second in the Saint John race. He hadn't heard of problems with misleading phone messages until this week. He wonders how many others remain unreported.
Moir said even his campaign used recorded messages to get out the vote.