Gary Neil presents on robocalls and voter suppression phone calls

From democratic deficit to voter suppression

2012 November 19, by Sherwin Arnott

Ten years ago, it was popular to talk and write about the democratic deficit in Canadian electoral politics. Those were productive conversations I think. Anytime we can chat about the ways in which democracy is complicated, is good. Democracy has many faces. Democracy has many shades and degrees. We can have more and less of it.

If you care about having more democracy and not less, as I do, then we all have to pay attention to the growing issues around voter suppression. To many Conservative Party Members, it appears that voter suppression is just another tool in the tool belt that can help your party get the edge in the election. John Fryer, a professor at UVic, and Order of Canada recipient, attended one election strategies conference hosted by the Manning Centre for Democracy in 2010, and discovered that “Instructors made it clear that robocalling and voter suppression were an acceptable and normal part of winning political campaigns.” It appears that the attendees and consultancies that attended that conference took that advice seriously in the 2011 election.

Of course many of us here on Vancouver Island remember the voter suppression phone calls from the 2008 election in Saanich-Gulf Islands that aided the Conservative Party MP Gary Lunn.

A few weeks ago, at the Council of Canadians AGM in Nanaimo, I had the benefit of listening to a presentation by Garry Neil about voter suppression phone calls in the 2011 federal election. Widespread, targeted phone calls were made to non-conservative voters. These phone calls were made by both humans and ‘robots.’ And it appears as though these voter suppression techniques could be just the beginning. It looks like these tactics and more have been used in the United States for some twenty years.

The Council of Canadians has committed to following up and challenging these growing phenomena. We initiated important research. We are rallying Canadians to talk about and do something about election fraud. And we have federal legal challenges that are scheduled to begin soon.

And, locally, we are scheduling some talks and coffee houses to discuss these important issues. Stay tuned!

Gary Neil presents on robocalls and voter suppression phone calls

Gary Neil presents on voter suppression phone calls in Nanaimo