"Dirty tricks" and politics have been synonymous for as long as people have
been seeking elected office.
But in recent days, Canadians have seen technology and social media take
the art to a whole new level.
First there are the now infamous "robo-calls".
Evidence is growing that in almost 40 ridings across the country (including
two in Nova Scotia
) someone used sophisticated phone
technology to automatically dial targeted voters. In some cases, voters were
told to go to the wrong polling stations. Others received rude or harassing
phone calls with the implications that the calls were coming from Liberal or NDP
supporters. Some of those calls have been traced to an Edmonton company with
close ties to the Conservative party.
While the robo-calls required voters lists, information on which party the
voter was likely to support, and the computers to make thousands of phone calls
over a short period of time, the second scandal required nothing more
sophisticated then a Twitter account.
After Public Safety Minister Vic Toews accused opponents of his governments
internet monitoring legislation of "standing with child pornographers" someone
using a House of Parliament IP address opened a Twitter account under the name
@Vikileaks30. They then proceeded to expose lurid details of Toews' divorce, 140
characters at a time. Needless to say, the tweets spread like wildfire, and soon
the mainstream media was all over the story.
No doubt this will be just the tip of the iceberg. As technology and social
media change the way we communicate, some politicians and their minions who are
determined to win at all costs, will find new ways to find that competitive
advantage, even if it bends or breaks the rules.
But, it seems as more things change, at least one thing stays the same. A
lack of accountability.
So far, in both these cases, low-level staffers are taking the fall. In
spite of the number of ridings involved and the similarities, the leadership of
the Conservative party insist they knew nothing about the robo-calls. A
Conservative staffer, Michael Sona, who had worked on the campaign in Guelph,
resigned from his job on Parliament Hill. Defence Minister Peter MacKay even
went as far as suggesting Sona's resignation should be the end of it.
"I think they've identified the individual that was involved in this, and
this is certainly not something our party condones," he said.
Liberal leader Bob Rae, says a Liberal staffer, Adam Carroll was behind the
Vikileaks account. Carroll, has of course, resigned and Bob Rae has apologized
to Toews. But again Rae, and other Liberals insist the staffer acted alone and
Both explanations are clearly possible, but they have many Canadians asking
if they are plausible.