Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

NDP MP slapped with fine for robocalling

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OTTAWA -- A New Democrat member of Parliament has been fined by Canada's telecommunications regulator over robocalls made during the party's last leadership campaign.

Paul Dewar was fined $7,000 by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as part of what it calls a wide-ranging investigation.

The CRTC says Dewar co-operated with its investigators and paid the fine as part of a settlement agreement.

Dewar is the member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, and the NDP's foreign affairs critic.

"We appreciate the co-operation we received during our investigations," Andrea Rosen, the agency's chief compliance and enforcement officer, said in a statement.

"We expect candidates who are running political campaigns and telemarketing-service providers to put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure compliance with the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules."

In an unrelated investigation, the firm Strategic Communications Inc. was also fined, and agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty for similar violations.

The CRTC did not immediately provide additional information on what sparked the investigation or when the infractions occurred.

But Dewar's office said the infractions took place during the NDP's last leadership campaign, when he ran unsuccessfully.

In a statement, Dewar said he has taken responsibility and co-operated fully with the CRTC to reach a settlement.

Dewar said his campaign hired a polling company to conduct a survey during the leadership campaign but the automated calls did not properly identify themselves.

"While this has been a common mistake by political campaigns, the CRTC has made it clear that automated calls must begin with a message identifying the person on whose behalf the call is made, including a mailing address and a local or toll-free number at which a representative of the originator of the message can be reached," Dewar said.

In addition to the fines, Dewar and the firm agreed to a comprehensive compliance that includes: an education and training program for volunteers and employees; appropriate compliance measures when making calls; and appropriate record keeping.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 A20

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