Needless to say, the country is abuzz with talk of the Robo-con scandal. When considering these events several basic points must be considered. The first point is - who benefits. Well, we all know the answer to that problem. No matter how much the Conservatives attempt to divert people's attentions with poorly researched claims about some of the calls in question coming from the Liberal Party itself, it is very clear that the primary beneficiary of these calls is the Conservative Party of Canada. In legal parlance this is referred to as motive. The second question is - who had opportunity. The answer to this question is fairly broad. Of course many people could have made these calls, from a tech-savvy group of nerds in Azerbaijan to some really bright junior high-school students in Red Deer Alberta. The voter/party support lists would need to be gathered from across the country (not as easy as it sounds), and then one would have record some of the calls then (presuming one didn't have the equipment oneself) hire a firm or number of firms to make the calls. Now, while in theory, almost anyone could have done this in this world of modern technology, the actual number of suspects are relatively small. Matching opportunity with motive, one must assume that members of the Conservative Party are the most likely candidates to have committed this anti-democratic crime. Of course it could have been people who were simply avid supporters of the party but the voter/party supporters lists are not simply published in yellow pages, it is just very unlikely that people with no political affiliation could have gotten such lists. At the very least, the events suggest conspiracy with party members.
The third, and bigger issue is this - regardless of who actually did this, such efforts surely put into question the legitimacy of the election. One might claim that the actual calls themselves were not the deciding factor in the election. This may or may not be true, but the fact is that, except in rare cases, it is almost impossible to prove that any particular voter fraud was the deciding factor in an election. I have seen voter fraud first hand in El Salvador where the ruling party was essentially telling rural voters who to vote for with the promise of some small reward such as clothes or building materials. In most cases these promises were made to people with very poor literacy skills who were very detached from the political process. They didn't necessarily understand the implication of the election itself, let alone the implications of voting for one party or the other. Under such conditions voter fraud is relatively easy, but even then it is nearly impossible to prove that the results of the election was actually affected by the fraud. Even at the best of times, the legitimacy of a democracy is a delicate matter. Voter fraud and suppression has become so widespread in the US, for example, that to continue to call it a democracy is a bit of a stretch if you ask me, and that is without taking into consideration the systemic problems of corporate dominance.
The point is that anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who is genuinely concerned with democracy in Canada had to have been deeply concerned about how things were going before this scandal hit. The Conservatives have already been convicted of election fraud as well as reprehensible robo-call fraud in relation to Irwin Coulter. Anything that tarnishes the legitimacy of an election in Canada is deeply problematic, particularly if it involves thousands (which this clearly does) of voters.
Even if people say that these calls didn't affect the outcome of the election, one thing is clear - if people knew at the time that such fraud was being perpetrated upon our nation, that would definitely affected the outcome. So while Harper taunts the nation, metaphorically sticking out his tongue at the electorate saying I am in power and you can't do anything about it, we are left holding the proverbial bag of democracy in our collective hands. Are we going to be satisfied with a tarnished system and a government that has demonstrated that they will systematiclly manipulate the system, shut down the system, shut down debate, shut down scientists and statisticians, shut down the parliament, shut down committees, shut down debate, and break any law to stay in power? Or are we going to demands more?
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