Robocalls phone number registered to 'Pierre Poutine'
Number used to make automated calls in Guelph, Ont., on election day
A telephone number used to place automated calls directing voters to the wrong polling station in Guelph, Ont., in the last federal election was registered to a "Pierre Poutine" of Separatist Street, Joliette, Que., court documents reveal.
The documents also show a link between the national Conservative campaign to the call centre through which the automated calls were made.
The documents were sworn by an Elections Canada investigator and filed in Edmonton court to get a production order for Racknine, the call centre used to make the robocalls. A production order requires documents to be made available to law enforcement officials within a specified time.
The allegations contained in the document have not been tested in court.
The investigator is looking into allegations somebody claiming to be from Elections Canada telephoned people in Guelph and falsely told them their polling stations had moved.
Records obtained from Bell Canada "identified the phone 450-760-7746 subscriber as 'Pierre Poutine of Separatist Street, Joliette, Que.,'" according to the sworn production order.
That number, which belongs to a disposable cellphone, appeared on the call display of voters who received the incorrect polling station information.
A CBC News investigation following the May 2, 2011, election found the number, when dialed, led to a recorded message:
"Pierre ??? [inaudible] Uh oh. There's no room to record messages. Please hang up and try your call again later. Bye."
Pierre's Poutine is a restaurant in Guelph.
The documents show Elections Canada is investigating whether somebody wilfully prevented or tried to prevent electors from voting, or whether somebody tried to persuade voters not to cast a ballot for a particular candidate. Both are offences under the Elections Act.
31 calls to Racknine from Guelph campaign
Someone using phone numbers of Marty Burke's Conservative campaign in Guelph called Racknine 31 times between March 26 and May 5, 2011, indicating his campaign used the company's services, the documents say. They also note that the calls that appeared to be from the 450 area code were actually made in Guelph.
Racknine CEO Matt Meier said his company was not hired by the Burke campaign.
"We did no work directly for the Marty Burke campaign," he told CBC News in an email. "Andrew Prescott, who we understand now to have been involved with the campaign, has a personal account [not the Pierre account] he used to send a correction notice on election day."
Andrew Prescott was the deputy manager of the Burke election campaign.
Meier says his lawyers have told him not to give specific information that could interfere with the Elections Canada investigation.
"What I am permitted to say is that the original contact information provided to me appeared authentic and was certainly a different name than the one being reported," he told CBC News.
Former Burke campaign staffer Michael Sona left his new job on Parliament Hill on Feb. 24.
In a statement to CTV, Sona said he had nothing to do with the fraudulent phone calls.
"I have remained silent to this point with the hope that the real guilty party would be apprehended. The rumours continue to swirl, and media are now involving my family, so I feel that it is imperative that I respond," he said.
"The role of a staffer is to assist their employer in their responsibilities, and that was impossible to accomplish with the media continually repeating these rumours. It is for that reason and that reason alone that I resigned from my position."
No Racknine expense for Guelph campaign
There is no expense listed for Racknine in the expenses filed by Burke's campaign team and no invoices from the company.
Burke filed $87,361.60 in expenses, investigator Allan Mathews noted.
"The return does list [two] other, Ontario-based service providers whose business includes voice-broadcasting services and other telephone work; Campaign Research at $6,215.00 and RMG [Responsive Marketing Group] at $15,000.00," Mathews says in the filing.
Payments to those companies are consistent with the number of people he interviewed who reported "repeated campaign and voter survey survey calls from the Burke campaign," Mathews notes.
Elections expenses must be filed within four months of the vote, but Elections Canada reviews submissions and can ask for more information.
The Elections Canada investigator says in the documents that he traced two numbers that called Racknine a total of nine times in the two days before the election to Conservative Party employees.
Canada's chief electoral officer had asked for the power to compel more supporting documents for election expenses, but a House of Commons committee tabled a report Monday disagreeing with that recommendation.
Conservatives 'accused of cheating'
Opposition MPs have been hammering the Conservatives with the allegations since a Postmedia report revealed Elections Canada is investigating the phone calls and that Racknine has done work for at least nine Conservative campaigns.
Community Reaction to the Pierre Poutine revelations. See what you had to say.
In question period, interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel demanded again for the Conservatives to turn over any information they have about phone calls made by Conservative-contracted companies like Racknine.
"It's not the NDP have been accused of cheating. It is the Conservatives. So where is the accountability?" Turmel said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he has no reason to believe the allegations from opposition parties.
"If the NDP actually has any information, we challenge them to give that information to the authorities. We have yet to see it and no reason to believe them," Harper said.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae says the Conservatives "have one mode of operation and that is attack. They will never slow down and say 'I’m sorry' or 'you’ve made a good point', or 'I appreciate what you have to say, whatever it may be.' It’s attack, attack, attack.
"I think the prime minister should be wary of being so dismissive of the concerns that Canadians have about making sure that the electoral process is fair," Rae said.
NDP MP Pat Martin says there should be a full public inquiry because the issue has shaken public confidence.
"Only dope dealers and Hells Angels and [TV mob boss] Tony Soprano uses burner cellphones, for Christ's sake," Martin said.