Margaret Wente in the Globe & Mail brings a sense of proportion to the robo-call “crisis” in Canadian politics:
What’s happened to my country? I went away for a couple of weeks and all hell broke loose. I came back to find that someone named Poutine stole the last election. At first I thought this was a typo, that they meant Putin. But no. It turns out that Russia is a shining beacon of democracy compared to Canada. Apparently, our country has been hijacked by “the most comprehensive electoral fraud in our nation’s history” (Pat Martin, NDP critic). Voter suppression — lying, cheating and general chicanery — has driven us into “uncharted waters” (Bob Rae, Liberal Leader).
I certainly don’t wish to make light of voter fraud. But this fraud seems to have been engineered by the Keystone Kops. Not a single voter claims to have been prevented from voting. No ballot boxes appear to have been stuffed. Nobody was fraudulently elected. There weren’t even any hanging chads. Elections Canada says 31,000 Canadians have complained, but the vast majority of these complaints (“somebody called me at 10 p.m.”) seem trivial.
The dirty trickster at the heart of this evil scheme turns out to be someone with the nom de plume of Pierre Poutine (real identity unknown). Mr. Poutine and his henchmen were not personally directed by Stephen Harper but are widely thought to have been channelling him. In Guelph, Ont., they engineered a bunch of robo-calls that directed people to show up at non-existent voting stations. This tactic was evidently intended to discourage people who didn’t support the Conservatives from voting. It was so effective that the Liberal candidate won by a margin of 11 per cent.