After 4 Years, These Red Green Grapes are Really Sour

In a March 6, 2012, Ottawa Citizen article, ( http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/first+robocalls+victim/6253162/story.html ) former Liberal candidate, Briony Penn claims she was the “first ‘victim’ of illegal robocalls” back in 2008.

Pardon me, and with all respect due, I have to call BS on her version of history.

In 2008, Liberal, environmentalist, and ex-Green Party (GP) member, Briony Penn, lost to Conservative Gary Lunn in the Saanich-Gulf Islands Riding which Elizabeth May won last year. However, Penn’s candidacy and campaign created a minor firestorm amongst local Greens.

First, six anti-Conservative, environmentalists (including Willie Horter, quoted by Penn in the Ottawa Citizen article as if he had some kind of independent opinion), pleaded to the GP faithful not to nominate a candidate in the riding for the 2008 election and support Penn as the Liberal candidate. (Their letter to the GP at: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/002533.html ).

GP members turned down the request, and nominated their perennial favourite, Andrew Lewis.

This undoubtedly created a 3-way split in the green voters since prior to all of this, another former Green Party member, Julian West, had been nominated as the NDP candidate in the riding.

However, and extremely conveniently for Penn, shortly after the formal nomination period expired, West was exposed in an inconvenient truthfully, Liberal email as having allegedly exposed himself, rather excitedly, in front of a group of young women at a youth environment conference 12 years previously. Penn denied any involvement in the exposure. West subsequently dropped out of the race, but, his name remained on the ballot.

Upon West’s departure it was reported, “Penn sympathized with West’s plight but laid blame on NDP Leader Jack Layton for not giving enough weight to the nudity incident during the candidate vetting process. ‘I think the decision must have been really hard for Julian to step down. Candidates who aren’t familiar with the political system need to be wisely counseled by their leaders.’” (http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=aa9bdf6a-341d-4b8e-b701-bc794755fa56&sponsor= )

I had to laugh at that sagely, and rather condescending political advice to Jack, since Penn had doffed her own clothes, and, not at any small Green gathering, but while riding a horse through downtown Vancouver as Lady Godiva, an event that was seen by children across the country. (Penn as Lady Godiva http://www.theprovince.com/3020420.bin?size=620×400 ) In the rarified air of green politics it’s evidently better to be publicly exposed, than it is being exposed in public that you exposed yourself.

So, who stood to benefit the most with no NDP candidate in the race? Why, the remaining two green candidates – Penn and Lewis.

Now to the substance of the 2008 “robo-scandal.” The day before the election, someone evidently arranged robocalls to NDP supporters (where on earth could they ever have gotten a list?) telling them not to vote for Lunn or Penn, but, instead, to vote for West. Conspicuous by its absence in the recorded calls was mention of the Green Party.

And this is where Penn’s version of the reasons for the eventual election results starts to fall off the tracks. The polls were already open the morning of the election, when I personally received an email from Penn uber-supporter, Guy Dauncey (another one of the 6 petitioners in the letter mentioned above), stating that polling showed Penn was still behind Lunn by 2,150 votes. (see email below) That polling evidently wasn’t far off – Penn ended up losing by a margin of 2,625.

However, West garnered 3,667 NDP votes, and, this became the alleged smoking gun. How or why did a candidate who was not in the running, but still on the ballot, end up with so many votes? Who could possibly have a motive to get people to vote NDP?

Dennis Pilon, a University of Victoria political scientist, theorized the NDP vote could have been a result of, “voter confusion; voter protest; the Liberal party’s inability to get their vote out; or savvy voters who know each ballot is worth money.” (http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=ddc3bae0-f2c2-4f91-8595-15942beeb27d&sponsor= )

Yes, each ballot cast for West was worth $1.95 to the federal NDP – $7,020 in total, payable each year, until the 2011 election. Not a bad reason for die hard NDP supporters to cast their ballots loyally for the betterment of their party in the long run. And just as reasonably, it’s not a bad reason for a staunch NDP supporter to make the robocalls. Maybe they had heard that Penn was still over 2,000 votes behind, and decided NDP funding was more important. Who the hell knows?

The bottom line question remains – Would 2,626 NDP voters have voted for Penn?

Well, given:

(a) there were essentially 3 green candidates on the ballot (the eenie, meanie, miney factor), and

(b) the animosity which had arisen during the campaigns between die hard NDP, Green and Liberal supporters, and

(c) the financial incentive of NDP party faithful to secure federal funding from the election results (in the 2006 election, the NDP candidate received 17,455 votes. This means the 3,667 who voted for West, represented only 21% of NDP supporters),

it is highly bloody unlikely.

On the other hand, is it reasonable to consider the possibility that 1 out of 5 NDP supporters, who were still so choked that their candidate had been exposed by the Liberals’ e-mail, decided they would rather garner federal funding for their party than vote for a hypocritical, Red Green, naked-in-public, Liberal candidate? I’d place $20 on that bet.

And, the more telling tale? To the best of my knowledge, not one single, solitary person came forward in 2008 to say if they hadn’t been misled by a robocall they would never have voted for the non-existent NDP candidate. Nada…not one NDP voter.

And that is the statistic I find most compelling, untold in Ms. Penn’s 4 year old, sour grape story. Since there were no robocall “victims,” Ms. Penn should just face the facts – 2008 was just a really bad year for red-green whines.

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Election Day Email

—– Original Message —–
From: Guy Dauncey
To: EcoNews Full List
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 11:02 AM
Subject: [econews_list] URGENT ACTION ON VOTING DAY

PLEASE FORWARD Widely to colleagues everywhere – URGENT ACTION ON VOTING DAY

Dear friends,

Today is election day. We will have to live with the results of that election for years – and our children’s world will be directly affected.

According to Vote for Environment’s polling info, there are currently 62 ridings in which a conservative is leading WHICH COULD BE WON BY THE PARTY IN SECOND PLACE if a number of those voting for the 3rd to 6th place candidates switched their votes.

The following 7 ridings need 150 – 990 votes to switch so that the party in second place could win:

Richmond – Lib 2nd – needs 150 votes
Ottawa South – Lib 2nd – needs 236 votes
Newton North Delta – Lib 2nd – needs 373 votes
Vancouver Quadra – Lib 2nd – needs 608 votes
Saskatoon/Rosetown/Biggar – NDP 2nd – needs 804 votes
Mississauga Erindale – Lib 2nd – needs 925 votes
Vancouver Island North – NDP 2nd – Catherine Bell needs 990 more votes

The following 17 ridings need 1,000 – 3,500 votes to switch for the candidate in 2nd place to win:

W. Vancouver, Sunshine coast – Lib 2nd – needs 1262 votes
Winnipeg – Lib 2nd – needs 1305 votes
Regina – Quappelle – NDP 2nd – needs 1533 votes
Mississauga South – Lib 2nd – needs 1569 votes
Edmonton Strathcona – NDP 2nd – needs 1823 votes
Oshawa – NDP 2nd – needs 1857 votes
Desnethe Mississippi Churchill River – Lib 2nd – needs 1867 votes
Palliser – NDP 2nd – needs 2125 votes
Saanich – Gulf Islands – Lib 2nd – Briony Penn needs 2150 more votes
Huron Bruce – Lib 2nd – needs 2317 votes
Central Nova – Greens 2nd – Elizabeth May needs 2330 votes
Fleetwood – Port Kells – Lib 2nd – needs 2779 votes
London West – Libs 2nd – needs 3005 votes
Parry Sound- Muskoka – Lib 2nd – needs 3305 votes
St John’s Mt Pearl – Lib 2nd – needs 3318 votes
Regina Lumsden Lake Centre – NDP 2nd – needs 3428 votes
Oakville – Lib 2nd – needs 3496 votes

This would result in 16 additional liberal seats, 7 additional NDP seats, a seat for Elizabeth May and a total of 24 fewer Conservative MPs.

There are 38 additional ridings in which voting for the 2nd place candidate could defeat a conservative with over 3,500 votes shifting. For details see the chart on http://www.voteforenvironment.ca
The link is: http://www.voteforenvironment.ca/sites/voteforenvironment.ca/files/SplitVoteEffectfinal.pdf

PLEASE PASS THIS INFO ON! THE ENVIRONMENT IS CRUCIAL TO OUR FUTURE.

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Would the Real Robocall Victims Please Stand Up?

First, I want to say I denounce any scheme to mislead voters…period.

Having said that, I want to know where the real “victims” of the Robocall Scandal are, if there are any. And what I mean by that is this – while there have been thousands of reports of these calls, I am not aware of one single person receiving these calls who did not actually vote for the party of their free choice.

One of the beauties of elections in Canada is that we register all voters who show up at polls in order to ensure there is a paper trail which can be used to determine if someone has voted twice, or in this case, once.

Therefore, I would like to hear from anyone who didn’t vote in the federal election because of the Robocalls. A quick cross check of their names by Elections Canada can easily verify as to whether they did or didn’t. If they didn’t vote, then perhaps they have a “real” case.

However, I cannot believe there are more than a handful of people across Canada who, as a result of having received a Robocall (a) didn’t vote, or (b) voted for a different party as a result of the call.

So, calling all Real Robocall Victims (RRV’s), please stand up, be counted, and be verified that you didn’t vote in the last election.

If there are insignificant numbers of RRV’s (which is what I suspect), then this scandal is really just an unsavoury and despicable one, as opposed to one which would either necessitate another election, or, invalidate the results of some ridings.

I look forward to hearing from all RRV’s, and, will post their comments.