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Steven Shrybman is a lawyer with Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell LLP. His practice focuses on international trade and public interest litigation, including issues concerning the environment, health care, human and labour rights, the protection of public services, natural resources policy, and intellectual property rights. Steven frequently speaks, and has written extensively, on the impact of international trade law on diverse areas of Canadian policy and law. He has also been involved in drafting and promoting conventions on cultural diversity and access to water as a human right.

Saskatchewan robocalls: The Prime Minister is the pot

| February 12, 2013
Saskatchewan robocalls: The Prime Minister is the pot

In my last post, I noted that the Conservative Party admitted it was behind recent misleading robocalls in Saskatchewan only after being confronted by forensic evidence linking it to the calls.

When confronted with the facts, the Prime Minister made this claim:

"There is no violation of the CRTC rules, in this case, unlike what the Liberal party did in a very different case …"

He was referring to a call sent out by the campaign of Liberal MP Frank Valeriote (Guelph) days before the 2011 election. That call offended CRTC rules because it failed to properly indicate that it was being made on behalf of Mr. Valeriote. Of course, the recent CPC robocall also failed to identify that it was being made on behalf of the Conservative Party.

Further, unlike Mr. Valeriote's call, which conveyed accurate information questioning the Conservative Party candidate's position on abortion, even Mr. Tom Lukiwski, the government's deputy House leader, described the CPC call as "deceptive." It's hard to disagree. First, the call masqueraded as public opinion research when in fact it was a "push poll" promoting a partisan political message. Second, it suggested that certain proposed riding boundary changes would pit urban areas against rural ones and offend "Saskatchewan values." In fact, the proposed changes emanated from an independent commission.

But the other difference between Mr. Valeriote and Mr. Harper is that, once discovered, Mr. Valeriote admitted that his campaign was behind the call, co-operated fully with the CRTC, and paid his fine. In this case, Mr. Valeriote is clearly the kettle.

This article was cross-posted to the blog In the Public Interest.

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