Canada ranks 10th best out of 183 countries on the 2011 index of Political Corruption Perceptions by Transparency International, lagging slightly behind the leading three countries of New Zealand, Denmark and Finland.
In its report, Transparency International states, “The 2011 index draws on assessments and opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. These surveys and assessments include questions related to the bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds and the effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.”
As a Canadian and a world-traveller I have visited many of the countries listed far down on the corruption index, where daily the local newspapers are filled with reports of blatant government corruption. I have been proud of the fact that Canada is one of the least corrupt countries in which to live. My smugness when discussing political cleanliness, particularly with Americans, has been removed due to recent revelations that link RackNine Inc., an Edmonton-based company contracted by the Conservative Party during the last election, sent automated robo-calls with the intent to turn the tide in critical ridings across Canada. The fraudulent calls were made to persons not supporting the Conservatives, erroneously telling them that their voting place location had been changed, often to a location difficult to access, while other calls were made late at night to harass voters. Confusion resulted in many ridings with an unknown number of people unable to cast their votes which obviously had an effect on the outcome of the election.
Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper, whose own constituency office used RackNine Inc.’s services, denies any knowledge of this fraudulent and unlawful activity and states whoever is responsible should face the full punishment of the law. Elections Canada and the RCMP are both investigating this criminal activity, and there are calls for a full public inquiry.
How did RackNine know who to telephone? It is well-known that most Canadian political parties track voters through various means, and in the case of the Conservatives, they use the Constituent Information Management System which compiles personal data of voters, including their names, addresses, gender, party affiliation and voting history, among other things. Using this information, it was easy for unscrupulous persons to mount an electronic attack against their electoral adversaries.
The question arises as to who was behind this conspiracy and the unlawful acts, and, was it more wide-spread than is currently known? There is no reason, at this time, to suspect the perpetrators were members of the Conservative Party, nor was it done with the knowledge of the party executive.
Notwithstanding, there is a direct link to a corporation contracted by the Conservative Party to provide services to them during the last election, and this matter must fully investigate and the guilty persons brought to justice.
A criminal investigation is obviously required; however, it may not provide all the facts due to the limitations of the law and investigative techniques available to Elections Canada and the Mounties. What is needed, is a full public inquiry with the powers of a Royal Commission to ensure Canadians that our political system is still one of the best in the world.
Mr. Harper, of all people, should insist on a public inquiry, as the reputation of his party and the validity of his government is on the line, but more importantly, so is the trust by Canadians in their electoral process.
Please, Mr. Harper, order a Royal Commission into this matter.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia