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Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. More information on Maude Barlow can be found at: www.canadians.org/Maude

Do the math: Day 3 of robocalls in court

| December 14, 2012
Do the math: Day 3 of robocalls in court

With the first wave of powerful evidence of a widespread and targeted campaign of voter suppression put before the Federal Court on Tuesday, on Day 3 hard numbers were presented to support it.

Steven Shrybman, lawyer for the applicants, led the court through the findings of a poll commissioned by the eight applicants and conducted by EKOS Research to survey the scope and impact of the fraudulent calls in the six federal ridings involved in these legal cases.

2,872 people in the six ridings were polled, along with 1,500 people in other ridings as a 'control' group, and asked if they received a call telling them that their polling station had changed. The results? You were between three and four times more likely to have received that fraudulent call if you didn't support the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) than if you did.

"We can say with confidence this is not an artifice of chance," Frank Graves, president and CEO of EKOS Research, testified in court.

You will remember that on the first day of these hearings, CPC lawyer Arthur Hamilton leveled repeated personal attacks on Mr. Graves (which prompted Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley to caution Mr. Hamilton), in an attempt to have Mr. Graves dismissed from the proceedings as an expert witness, along with the findings of the poll.

Mr. Hamilton's shameful antics continued on Wednesday. Rather than arguing the evidence, Mr. Hamilton tried to divert the court's attention away from it through further personal attacks on Mr. Graves.

Michael Adams, the founding president of Environics, a competing polling firm, set Mr. Hamilton straight by referring to Mr. Graves as a highly respected professional pollster, and the CPC attacks against him as utterly unfounded.

Mr. Graves' evidence is also supported by the expert evidence of Dr. Neil Nevitte, who was retained by the applicants to provide an independent opinion of the EKOS survey. Dr. Nevitte is the principal investigator of the World Values Survey (Canada) and a co-investigator of the Canadian Election Studies (1993-2009). Dr. Nevitte serves as a senior election advisor with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and as a technical advisor to many international non-governmental organizations on the prevention and detection of election fraud and on the conditions for free and fair elections.

Having carried out that review, Dr. Nevitte concludes:

My view is that the EKOS Report, for the most part, makes relatively modest claims that are advanced, usually, with related caveats and proper caution. The EKOS data, I think, are useful. They have integrity and because that is the case, the critical issue at hand, in my view, concerns the inferences that can be reasonably drawn from Tables 3.1 and 3.2 of the EKOS Report [revealing thousands of calls were made into the six ridings, and that they disproportionately targeted non-CPC supporters]. These data, to my mind, are central to the issue of whether the so-called robo-calls were "targeted."

Numbers and statistical research methodology may not be everybody's cup of tea, but on Day 3 they provided compelling proof of the unprecedented attack on our democracy.

With hope and resolve,

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Maude Barlow
National Chairperson, The Council of Canadians


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