Confusion surrounding robocalls in the lead up to election day

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel says he believes reports of a robocall claiming he supports UCP leader Jason Kenney should be investigated. An Ardrossan man claims he received the call Saturday evening.

Mandel says robocalls are used because door knocking can be a challenge in rural ridings

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel is joined by candidates Dave Quest (far left) and Marvin Olsen (second from right) as well as Bob Wispinski (far right) who alleges he received a robocall claiming Mandel was endorsing UCP leader Jason Kenney. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The United Conservative Party is calling into question claims that robocalls are being made by a person who sounds like Stephen Mandel, which say he endorses Jason Kenney. 

In an email Sunday night to CBC News a UCP spokesperson said they have confirmed that at least one of the people claiming to have received a robocall actually received the call that they had put out from former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Sunday afternoon the Alberta Party leader was joined by Bob Wispinski from Ardrossan who said he got a robocall Saturday evening which claimed to be from the Alberta Party.

"It said 'Hi, I'm Stephen Mandel of the Alberta Party,'" Wispinski said. "As you all know, we're having an election on Tuesday and if you believe in Alberta, Jason Kenney has all the answers."

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He claims the message was about a minute and a half long and that it ended with someone claiming to be Mandel endorsing Kenney.

Bob Wispinski from Ardrossan alleges he received a robocall Saturday evening from someone who claimed to be Stephen Mandel and that he was supporting UCP leader Jason Kenney.

Mandel said Wispinski, who did not record the call, contacted the Alberta Party candidate for the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville area Marvin Olsen, who is a personal friend.

"Bob's a credible person," Mandel said. "We would never come forward… he called Marvin up right away. You know this is something that we're just shocked at. We don't know who did it. We're not saying who did it. We don't know."

Wispinski said he tried to call the number back and a man who answered said they didn't know anything about it. They are unsure how many people may have received the call but encourage anyone else to contact them.

"We just want this stuff to stop."

Mandel is calling for a full investigation by the RCMP and Elections Alberta.

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The United Conservative Party responded to the reported robocall with a statement Saturday afternoon saying they have no knowledge of the call and that they clearly identify the party in any calls made as required by Elections Alberta and the CRTC.

The UCP also said in the statement they have not heard the call in question but add it does appear to align with a narrative the NDP is pushing.

The NDP also responded with a statement saying they have no knowledge of the calls and "certainly no involvement."

With just two days left to go in the campaign Mandel said he's feeling aggravated.

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"It has to stop," Mandel said. "There has to be some sense that as politicians we have respect for one another. You might not like what some people stand for and that's your choice. But say it in a way that's somewhat respectable."

UCP leader Jason Kenney and NDP leader Rachel Notley are both in Edmonton in the lead up to election day.


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