Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Insider trains spotlight on robocall scandal

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A broadcast interview with former Marty Burke campaign insider Michael Sona this week is sure to revive public interest in the identity of Pierre Poutine and into the outcome of the probes into improper robocalling in Guelph during the 2011 federal election campaign.

In an interview with CBC, Sona reiterated his compelling narrative that suggests his innocence in the fraudulent Guelph riding robocalling during the May 2, 2011 election campaign that sought to misdirect thousands of voters to a non-existent polling station.

Sona's freshly repeated assertions of his innocence in this affair revived a host of unanswered questions about the Pierre Poutine robocalling, as well as how Conservative Party of Canada and Elections Canada officials have handled this matter.

Among such questions are whether the Conservative party has knowledge of the identity of Poutine and whether it unfairly allowed Sona to take so much heat as a suspected operative behind this episode.

Sona's revisiting of such subjects as his non-access to the internal party databases used to make the robocalls and the significant influence of the national Conservative campaign on the local party campaign waged in Guelph have moved many stakeholders connected to this case to respond publicly this week.

Among those has been the Conservative Party of Canada.

Through spokesman Fred Delorey, the party reasserted its stance that it regards the voter suppression robocalling as an "extremely serious" matter and one that has it assisting Elections Canada as fully as possible in the agency's probe of this matter.

He also reaffirmed the party's public stance that it ran "a clean and ethical campaign and was not involved in voter suppression" and wants those responsible for these actions prosecuted.

It will be interesting to see if politicians for the party continue to respond to Guelph voter suppression robocalling queries with the dodge that the subject is only a "smear campaign" issue by opposition parties. Likewise, it will be interesting to see if the party continues to have political or non-political officials quickly reference the inappropriate Guelph robocalling by the local Liberal campaign as the only illegal robocalling confirmed in that riding.

The party can't responsibly both publicly say the Pierre Poutine robocalling is a grave matter for it and Canada and spin "Guelph robocalling" as it has.

Sona's interviews this week have restored a focus on this important subject.

Let's hope this serious matter remains a front-burner subject and one handled justly in political and other realms.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 3, 2012 A17

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