Alberta Politics

Doug Griffiths leads unconvincing charge against *scary* Wildrose robocalls.

Wildrose Alberta Robocall
Are the Wildrose robocalls really that scary?

Swinging at the chance to bloody their opposition, Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives are trying to make a connection in Albertans minds between automated robocalls made on behalf of the Wildrose Party and controversial robocalls made by Conservative Party organizers in Ontario.

It’s a stretch.

Last week the Wildrose Party was fined $90,000 by the Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission for breaking regulatory rules around automated robocalls made during last year’s provincial election. According to the CRTC, the Wildrose Party failed properly identifying themselves when the robocalls were made (they were push-polls).

Doug Griffiths
Doug Griffiths

Unlike the controversial robocalls from Ontario, there is no indication that the Wildrose robocalls were intended to suppress or misdirect voters from their polling stations.

This difference does not seem to matter to Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, who has led his party’s charge, calling on Elections Alberta to investigate the Wildrose robocalls. So far, Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party has admitted to making the calls, paid the fine in its entirety, and has released the script of the robocall in question.

As the National Post’s Jen Gerson wrote, “[o]ne can hardly fault Alberta’s besieged Progressive Conservatives for trying to squeeze the ruling  for all it’s worth.” After three years of being harassed from scandal to scandal by the Wildrose, the Tories see an opportunity to strike-back against their relentlessly aggressive opponents. And this is becoming a trend.

This new offensive strategy appears to have started with Premier Redford’s unfortunately hyper-partisan speech to a group of school children at a government press conference last month.

Manmeet Bhullar
Manmeet Bhullar

Online, ministerial press secretaries have become partisan mini-celebrities by spending their days locked in heated political arguments with Wildrose Caucus staffers on Twitter. Long-gone are the days when ministerial spokespeople at least pretended to be non-partisan.

Last week, Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar accused the Wildrose of bigotry for failing to promptly remove racist comments from their Facebook Page (a Wildrose staffer was quick to point out racist comments that had not been removed from Premier Alison Redford‘s Facebook Page). Minister Bhullar’s accusation sends a message to moderate voters, who might be unhappy with the PC Party’s deep funding cuts to post-secondary education and cuts to support for persons with developmental disabilities, that their only alternative is still scary.

The robocall accusations against the Wildrose remain thin, even the Tories use robocalls – because it is an effective campaign tool. But this is payback and we should not expect the Tories to be nice about it.

17 replies on “Doug Griffiths leads unconvincing charge against *scary* Wildrose robocalls.”

The same company that Pierre Poutine used in Guelph, RackNine, was also the company that incurred the fines to Wildrose from the CRTC. You don’t consider that to be a convincing connection? Especially when Yager said that Wildrose trusted its vendor to follow the rules? Perhaps the Conservative Party had similar faith in RackNine.

Graham: Thanks for the comment.

I have seen no evidence that any of the robocalls placed by the Wildrose intended to suppress the vote or lead voters to the wrong polling stations.

All major political parties use automated robocalls, including the Redford PCs.

Robocalls are not inherently bad (though the name itself is now mud). It depends how the parties use them. Some Tories in Ontario misused them. In Alberta, the Wildrose issue appears to be regulatory – and they admit it and have paid the fine.

The Racknine connection is notable, but the evidence available to us now makes clear the two cases are very different.


Blaming Racknine for Pierre Poutine is like blaming Gmail for gmail spam accounts people use, it isn’t logical. Because Racknine’s system is so efficient and effective, and because it is used by so many people, it is bound to be abused by a Pierre Poutine type from time to time.

That there were a few calls that were not properly conducted is unfortunate, but knowing Matt at Racknine and the standards he sets for himself and his company, I have no doubt that it was an unfortunate mistake that he won’t repeat.

This is precious I’m not a wildrose supporter by any stretch but I find it amazing that arguably the most corrupt government in Canada is calling another party dishonest. If it wasn’t so sad I would be laughing.

Dave, the difference is the Tories weren’t fined $90,000 for making illegal robocalls. The Wildrose was.

Wildrose needs to clean up their own act before criticizing others.

It seems people are completely ignoring the fact the PCAA used robocalls for push polls, erroneously claimed they were doing research, and even the Premier got caught lying about it. CRTC has yet to charge them for not stating their brand in the calls.

The fact Wildrose uses the same vendor the CPC uses is irrelevant. The PCAA uses two AMERICAN companies. It seems no one is slandering these two companies, even though they do the exact same thing for the PCAA that Racknine does for Wildrose. They provide servers and dialers.

At least the Wildrose Party admitted their wrongdoing, paid the fine, and disclosed all to the taxpayers. The PCAA is still allowing a statement admitting guilt to go nowhere, not admitting their illegal activities or apologizing to anyone. How is it the CRTC can’t simply take the comments of the premier and those of Stephen Carter and find them guilty of the exact same thing they so readily found Wildrose guilty of doing?

Interestingly enough, it appears Griffiths’ feigned outrage is actually backfiring in his face. Are these ministers so blind they don’t see the Premier is using them and making them look like clowns? Let the horse’s mouth fill us all in.

Jack: If anything, the fact that the PCs haven’t gotten similar fines is the *real* scandal here. As John points out, we know that the PCs made the exact same calls with the exact same omissions… so why has the CRTC only gone after Wildrose?

(One media story noted that investigations are still ongoing, so hopefully that will change.)

That clip from Ezra proves Jack’s point. The PC’s didn’t do anything wrong with their calls and the Wildrose did, hence why the Wildrose was fined the highest amount in CRTC history.

It’s time for the Wildrose to stop these negative American-style tactics and be honest with voters.

It is summed up correctly above that the premier is using the mla’s and making them look like clowns which most folks knew already. Why the crtc is not taking action for the very same actions by the annointed pc’s is what I would like to know. Surely it is not another of the famous screwups of the crtc perpetuated over the years.

Robocalls exist because of the changing nature of political campaigns in Canada. There once was a time when campaign volunteers came out in droves to door-knock and to staff campaign office phone banks. Now volunteer numbers are way down, and campaigns need to find outer ways to connect with voters. Robocalls are one way, which trades volunteer hours for dollars to hire a telemarketing firm. If I were a campaign manager, I’d rather have the volunteers, they get more traction with voters; but they simply aren’t there.

Let’s face it. Alberta Tories and this MLA’s have the ethical and moral high ground. They are the MOST accountable, ethical, transparent, competant, fiscally responsible, truthful and most thoughtful government EVER on the face of this planet. Alberta Tories should always be trusted, they never lie to ALbertans and always tell the truth. With a government this efficient and perfect, we don’t need any new government ever, nor do we need any true independent officers of the government to look into any sort of PC malfeansance or any kind of electoral transgressions, because they have never happened, nor have they ever happened. Anybody saying the slightest negative thing of Alberta Tories are either imagining things, or have delusions of an alternative universe.

@John…no you have it wrong. The P-CAA never use their MLA’s nor do they ever toss them under the bus. PC MLA’s never display false any false apologies. Not once have the P-CAA EVER whitewashed or circumvented ANY law EVER. This MLA is the finest most honest, sincere public servant. He truly loves and cares for all human beings equally. Best of all the the P-CAA never puts its donors and members first, they always take care of people first. They must never be accused of subverting democracy and the truth in anyway, they are the standing example of what a perfect government is. We really should be worshipping them all. They would never dream of being anything less than completely competant, fiscal, transparent and honest to the voters. They have never ever twisted and reinterpreted the law in their favor. They are too honest and moral and ethical for that.

Interesting comments! I am surprised that PCAA has not been investigated as Stephen Carter in the election self admitted that he had used non identified push polls. So perhaps the difference may be that the CRTC is not finished. I think they added a Conservative MP and I think a liberal. Maybe the AB PC group is next.

However, donor calls are going to continue as this has proven to be successful in fund raising and campaign support. Someone above mentioned that volunteers are not there any more! But the telephone and Social media can present a problem. In the last election Facebook accts, phone numbers, websites etc seemed to come up for a day or two, say appalling things and then disappear! Is this the NEW campaign?

Tom Dick & Harry – you’re wrong. The Wildrose negative attacks are what we need to create a better Alberta. Wildrose are the most honest and forthright people and we should be BLESSED that they are here. We need more negative, American-style attack politics in Alberta. Without the Wildrose, we will be simply doomed.

@Joe Albertan,

First of all, I agree with you yes and no. Yes, its good that the Wildrose is acting as a counterweight, as check and balance.

But don’t ever kid yourself. Once establishments become entrenched, whether they are left, center or right, they eventually treat all humans as equally worthless and they like the gravy train so much that they don’t want scrutiny, accountability or transparency. So as you all see, human nature is fundamentally the same, regardless which political leaning you have.

Don’t for a second even kid yourself if you think any party, would be honest if it was in power. They all become dishonest, inefficient and bloated and too many secrets to keep locked away, once they are in office more than 6 years. 8 Years is the longest any party should ever be in power.

The best ideal situation, is where there is a continual political fight which keeps checks and balances on our society and our democracy.

When power is entrenched for too long. I don’t care which party it is, the opportunists, and liars and pork barrelers all line up for a free for all buffet at the public’s expense. Yes they effing do!

When you understand this concept, you understand why the Federal Liberals suffered such a defeat, and now the Fed Cons are headed the same way. It is unavoidable. Bloated, and inefficient and being in power for too long, so many secrets, they finally start becoming dictators and become the very scourage, they nasty thing that they once rallied against. Any country, this is true, esp true of Libya. The young charismatic general came to power, only to see his life end as he was filmed on a cell phone. If voters were more involved, intelligent and thoughtful, we would have more balanced politics and politicians.

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