Ban Political “Robocalls” Outright!

As noted by several commenters here on this subject, the number of complaints received by Elections Canada about automated phone calls increased exponentially during the last election – from a few hundred in previous years to more than 31,000 in 2011. Whatever the cause involved, something awry must have precipitated that reaction…

I think it safe to assume most people agree that telemarketing is one of THE most offensive and perniciously annoying intrusions into our private lives. As I see it, automated telemarketing is little more than another form of unwanted SPAM – only without the ability to effectively filter it out of existence. Recognizing this fact, governments on both sides of the border have in recent years made some feeble attempts to restrain the practice by introducing such things as “opt-out” registries. Unsurprisingly, exemptions to these “Do Not Call” registries, however, have been carved out for political groups making automated calls.

Why is that? It’s not like the messages have any significantly meaningful purpose. In fact, for the most part, all they do is deliver negative advertising via the phone, or in the worst case, erroneously misleading information to suppress voter participation.

Perhaps the best thing that could emerge from the whole “robo-fraud” scandal would be an outright ban on the practice of automated political telemarketing altogether. Would anyone at all miss being annoyed by political telemarketing calls in future?

Update: In the likely event that robo-calls won’t be banned altogether, here’s a neat idea currently being developed by a company in the U.S.

Dirty Deeds…

Apparently not done dirt cheap. In fact, as the Postmedia reporter indicates, whoever was responsible for attempting to suppress the vote for the benefit of the Conservative candidates in tightly contested ridings required money, organization and voters lists. Doesn’t exactly sound like a formula for some obscure “rogue” now does it?

In addition to this story of bogus “robocalls” misdirecting unwitting Liberal/NDP voters to the wrong polling station (a time-worn dirty trick in U.S. politics) come revelations of another campaign of deceit whereby certain groups of voters were apparently targeted by miscreants (presumably Conservative operatives) posing as Liberal volunteers who would phone repeatedly during the supper hour, late at night, or on the Sabbath in the case of Jewish voters, and then act rudely on the phone in an effort to annoy and alienate those targeted by the calls.

The Apogee of Manning

Rex Murphy’s glowing tribute to Preston Manning as the driving intellectual force behind the fundamental realignment of Canadian politics realized most clearly in the results of the last election…

Listening to Rex extol the “wizardry” of Stephen Harper “pursuing the party of Pearson and Trudeau into near oblivion,” one can only laugh at the extremist fringe of the right-wing forever angrily complaining about the flagrant “liberal bias” of the CBC.

Liberals at the Crossroads

A look back at the various reasons leading up to the crushing defeat of the federal Liberals in this week’s election and an examination of whether the party has a raison d’etre anymore, let alone a long-term future…

It’s hard to get passionate about a moderate, centrist party that espouses strong federalism, fiscal responsibility and social tolerance (amongst other things), but I can’t help but think that our politics would be worse off if our system was to devolve into a two-party see-saw between pretend socialists and fake conservatives.

Now What?

With four in ten of the less than two-thirds of Canadians that bothered to vote on Monday having decided to give Stephen Harper the reigns of power until at least 2015, what changes can we reasonably expect to see over the next four years?

According to reports today, Harper indicates “he’s taking a no-surprises approach to majority government rather than contemplating any radical shifts in policy now that he has control of the Commons.” Well, of course he would say that… Now.

But how long will it be until the more “radical shifts” start appearing? And I don’t pose the question as idle fear mongering… just more out of a sense of morbid curiosity at what the Conservatives hope to achieve now that they’ve finally attained their long coveted majority. After all, there was a lot of implicit and abiding faith amongst the Conservative base that if ever given the opportunity to do so, they would effect dramatic changes to the very fabric of Canada.

Defunding the CBC and Radio Canada, for starters. Limiting the role of the federal government across the board, slashing taxes on enterprising “job creators” (i.e., the wealthiest 5%), auctioning off public assets, zeroing out corporate taxes and issuing in a sweeping wave of “hands off” deregulation in order to finally unleash the power of the “free market” to work its productive magic on the economy unfettered by meddlesome government bureaucrats. Not to mention other promises that have been implicitly made to the Conservative party base over the years… defunding the arts, criminalizing abortion, cutting or abandoning altogether social justice and welfare programs. You know the drill.

Now that the Conservatives have complete control of the House of Commons in addition to a majority in the “other place” and the ability even to load the bench of the SCOC with their own ideologically sympathetic appointees there should be absolutely nothing stopping them from implementing the full measure of their “agenda”…

Here’s another thing I’m curious about: What the heck are the Bloggin’ Tories going to do for the next four years? Demonizing a powerless opposition, while shaking their rhetorical pom-poms and blindly cheering on the Dear Leader’s every autocratic move seems like a rather dull prospect, doesn’t it?

Ignatieff Resigns

After a night of surprises, something that’s not.

“There must be somewhere out there, possibly in the room this morning, or possibly watching on television, who thinks – he didn’t get there but I will.”

At least now the Liberals will have a lot of time to rebuild and rediscover itself. It’s time for a new generation to take over the party.

Aftermath Update: The early morning wrap-up from CBC.

E-Night 2011

Kind of an open thread for the time being until the polls close out west in a few hours. I plan on going back into work and watching the results come in from there, as the computer/TV set-up is better at the office. Should be an interesting evening…

9:30: Well, that was disappointing. Got into the office, turned on the computer and discovered that the Cons had won a majority government. Game over.

9:50: Speaking of “game over” looks like Ignatieff went down with the ship he managed to sink.

10:00: Ken Dryden went down. Gee, that’s sad.

10:05: CBC online player still not working. Having to watch coverage on CTV instead.

10:11: Iggy delivering his concession speech… This could well be the best speech he’ll have given during the whole campaign.

10:15: Ignatieff won’t be the only defeated leader. Duceppe has also been upset.

10:25: Strange to see folks like Gerard Kennedy and Martha Hall-Findlay getting the boot.

10:45: Duceppe’s turn to bid farewell. (Looks like the BQ is all but completely wiped out.)

10:50: Hard to believe that Elizabeth May might actually pull off a victory in Saanich.

11:00: CTV now declaring May elected. Good for her!

11:15: CBC online still MIA. The ads work though! Getting a bit fed up of CTV showing local results from the GTA over and over with almost NOTHING west of Ontario.

11:30: Layton delivering his victory speech. I don’t know why these folks are cheering. The NDP can vote their conscience all they want as the Official Opposition and it won’t make a whit’s worth of difference now that Harper has a majority.

12:05: Awaiting the Dear Leader to take the stage…

12:12: CTV correspondents still fellating.

12:14: Finally, the speech begins. WARNING: Playing that drinking game where you take a shot every time Harper says “friends” could be hazardous to your health.

12:30: Speech over, CTV correspondents are back gushing and fawning.

Election Projections

For the betting crowd, feel free to use this space to share your best guesstimates about the outcome of tomorrow’s election.

Others are FAR more into this stuff than me and have the whole projection thing down to an nearly exact science, so my opinion counts for little beyond the fun of hypothetical wagering and possibly scoring an “I told you so” booya after the fact. That said, here’s the way I figure the result will shake out:

Conservatives: 147; Liberals: 56; NDP: 80; Bloc: 25; Greens: 0

As for voter turnout, I’m guessing that it will be 56%. Depending on the weather, that figure might break 60% but I rather doubt it.