Investigating Robo-Calling

Ahhh ... Robo-call again. Newt used them against Mitt, one U.S. state campaign tried to suppress Black votes with them. Across the continent politicians, unions, pollsters and charities use them, often because they are efficient or cheaper than print or TV ads. To critics, they undermine democracy, to proponents they're just another tool. And others say Elections Canada has all the teeth it needs, if it wants to bite on this issue.

Part One of The Current


It's Thursday March 1st.

Someone calling himself Pierre Poutine may have been one of the people behind a series of bogus Robo-calls during the last federal election.

Currently, Oh sure... blame it on the curds.

This is The Current.

Investigating Robo-Calling - Democracy Watch

It seems really strange that a Guelph Ontario restaurant is at the centre of what may be a national scandal, but Canada has never known a case such as this. The restaurant "Pierre's Poutine" likely inspired the person who bought a disposable cellphone under the name Pierre Poutine and allegedly used it to orchestrate an automated phone call campaign during the last federal election.

People in the riding say a robo-call misled them into believing the polling station had been moved. CBC news reports that dozens of ridings may have received misleading or rude telephone incidents. There's still no indication of who Pierre Poutine might be, or whether this really is a case of election fraud.

Our first guest is paying particular attention to these events, and how Elections Canada is dealing with them. Duff Conacher is the founder and a board member of Democracy Watch, a citizens' group which lobbies for democratic reform, government accountability and corporate responsibility in Canada. Duff Conacher was in our Toronto studio.

Investigating Robo-Calling - Citizens for Civil Discourse

In the United States, robo-calls are as much as part of the political culture as hanging chads and Super Pacs. Americans just never know who will be on the other end of the phone. We aired a few examples of the robo-calls politicians, and would-be politicians, have placed to American voters.

Shaun Dakin would very much like to permanently disconnect all U.S. robo-callers.
He's founder and CEO of the national political do not contact registry at and a founder of Citizens for Civil Discourse. We reached him in Washington.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kathleen Goldhar, Ellen Saenger, Ottawa Network Producer, Neil Morrison and St. John's Producer, Heather Barrett.

Other segments from today's show:

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