Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Risk Vs. Reward


One of the things that's really gotten under my skin, especially whilst following the Robocall scandal, is just how blatantly corrupt our government has become. It's like they're not even trying to hide it anymore.

I mean, at what point do we start calling a spade a spade here?  When do our elected officials, our official opposition and others, get to shout down these 'Honourable' members of Parliament?

Do you remember how viciously the Conservatives attacked the Liberals over Adscam?  And how righteous they were when they brought about the Federal Accountability Act:

"With the Federal Accountability Act, we are creating a new culture of accountability that will change forever the way business is done in Ottawa," - Stephen Harper, 2006

Also:

"We are following through on our commitment to deliver good, clean government to Canadians." - Stephen Harper, 2006

It's funny how those words seem almost quaint now, looking back at what's transpired over the last 5-6 years as lies and secrecy and guilty pleas stacked up on top of one another.

And yet the Harper Government (tm) gets to dance around this Robofraud scandal as if the very idea of it all, that they could ever DO such a thing, is beneath them.

Of course, that's only possible if you forget the G8 spending they snuck through Parliament and those F-35 airplanes and Linda Keen.

And forget that Harper's party engineered the entire 2006 'in and out' scandal - feeding campaign advertising money through local levels, allowing them to claim Elections Canada Tax Credits for money they never spent and allowing the Conservative party to exceed their legal spending limits.  Forget that when they were caught, they plead guilty.

Forget that Stephen Harper doesn't give a damn about silly things like 'how much things cost' - he spends our tax dollars as he sees fit and will not tolerate people asking questions about it.  He decrees that it's needed then stonewalls any efforts to follow procedure.

Forget that Bruce Carson, one of Harper's top aides, was convicted of five counts of fraud and most definitely forget that Harper is, to this day, suppressing the Bruce Carson Report that would shed light on exactly what Bruce was up to and how high up the chain this whole thing went.

Forget that when Christian Paradis was recently outed for breaking 'Conflict of Interest' laws, Harper dove to his side calling the whole thing a 'learning experience'.  As if a politician - a former lawyer - who's been in the political game since 2006 has no idea that acting in a 'conflict of interest' is a bad thing?

Now he's under fire again, for another ethics violation.  I wonder if the Harper Government will move to protect one of their one once more?

I look at this, this pattern - this blatant disregard for the rules and... I just can't see it shaking out any other way:  The Conservative government has to be responsible for this Robofraud scandal.

Sadly, what I've listed here is only a small sample of the evidence of corruption against the Harper Government, there are many others who, I'm sure could add more to this list.

Hell, I didn't even touch anything about the secret oil committee that the Federal and Alberta government formed back in 2010 to help lobby the tar sands internationally.

But then, I'm sure you knew about that.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 26, 2012

To Do What Our PM Will Not


I'm not entirely sure what to make about the new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair - much of what I've read about him so far has been negative, so much so that it actually made me stop and look at what I was reading in a whole other light.  Namely, that much of it reads like propaganda.

I have to admit that I did fall for it for a short time, but as I started to read more and more, once I flipped on my BS detector and started questioning what I was reading... yeah, it started to fail the sniff test pretty quickly.

More and more, especially when it comes to politics, I have to remind myself to keep that ol' BS detector on and in a 'firmly locked' position.  Needless to say I'm pretty much back to square one when it comes to Mr. Mulcair but that's fine I'll be watching what he does as a leader and forming my opinion of him based on what he does.

In other news, there was an excellent article out a couple weeks ago that I somehow missed called Investigation: How Public Money Flows Into Tory Coffers.  If you get a chance, give it a read, it's well worth your time.

The Conservative's budget drops tomorrow, which means another day that the Robocall scandal gets pushed to the back burner.

Another interesting article, if you have time for it, is Understanding Harper's Evangelical Mission - I think few would argue that there's a strong ideology pushing our Prime Minister toward his goal of world domination a Conservative Canada, but this article certainly helps to shed a bit of light on where, exactly, that ideology stems from.

Finally, here's the plain text of the letter I sent off to our Governor General today:
                                                   March 27th, 2012

To His Excellency
The Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada,

Hello again your Excellency,

This is Brandon Laraby writing to you once more, in letter number two.

I’m not sure how closely you’ve been following the news or the revelations that have been coming to light in regards to the Robocall scandal that’s gripped our nation but there is some pretty shocking evidence coming to light.  I’d like to share a bit of that with you, if you don’t mind.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple – one issue per letter so as not to monopolize your time.

Today I wanted to direct your attention to Guelph, Ontario.  Now this recent evidence doesn’t directly implicate the Conservatives in the Robofraud scandal – as I and many others have come to call it – but it certainly is raising eyebrows.

You see, your Excellency, Allan Mathews - the Elections Canada investigator - has been hard at work and he’s uncovered that this ‘Pierre Poutine’ fellow had put together another Robocall that, for whatever reason, he never actually used; a simple, robotic voice that would support the Liberal candidate Frank Valeriote.

However, this Robocall was also set up in such a way that it would appear under a fake caller ID – so as to appear to come from Mr. Valeriote’s own campaign office – whilst calling potential voters in the middle of the night.

Though Mr. Valeriote won that election, these sorts of tactics are entirely indicative of what we’ve been seeing across Canada – complaints of annoying phone calls in the dead of night or on holy days, the vast majority of them claiming to be from often a Liberal or NDP candidate.  Not to mention the phone calls that impersonated Elections Canada and lead people to non-existent polling stations.

Your Excellency, we need to get to the bottom of these allegations – not just in Guelph, but all across Canada.  There are now, at the time of this writing, at least one hundred ridings that have documented irregularities and/or misleading phone calls in or leading up to the 41st General Election.

One hundred ridings.  That’s almost one third of our entire country.

The scale of this investigation is massive and it’s one that I, and a great number of my fellow citizens, believe requires a Royal Commission to truly get to the bottom of it all. And yet our Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to even entertain the idea, proclaiming himself not only innocent but that his whole party above reproach in this scandal.

That is why I’ve come to you, your Excellency. That is why I will must implore you to do what our Prime Minister will not:

Restore our faith in Democracy.

Thank you very much for your time,

------------

Like I said earlier, I'm not sure if my letters will ever find their way to the desk of the Governor General but I'm holding out hope.  Giving it the ol' college try as they say.

Stranger things have happened.

Cheers!
Brandon

Friday, March 23, 2012

Writing to The Governor General


One of the things that's become increasingly clear in this whole Robofraud scandal is that unless the Governor General steps into the fray and calls for a Royal Commission himself, we're never going to find out what happened in the 41st General Election.

Quite simply put, no matter how much evidence that comes to light, no matter how much those at The Sixth Estate or Unfuckwithable manage to pull together, the Conservative party of Canada has the ability to stymie and dance around pretty much any punch thrown at it.

Just recently - as in yesterday - Christian Paradis, a Conservative Cabinet Minister, was found to have broken Conflict of Interest laws by Mary Dawson, the Ethics Commissioner.  Of course this finding carries no weight - no punishment or fine - and the Prime Minister immediately jumped to Paradis' side and defended him from the charges, calling it a 'learning experience'.

As if a cabinet Minister, (with how many years experience?) wouldn't completely know what he was doing by showing preferential treatment to friend/colleague Rahim Jaffer?  How stupid does this government think we are?

Anyways, I've decided that I'm going to try a different tactic now.  I can sit here on the web and complain and point to all the blatantly criminal things that have been going on with our Government, or I can DO something about it.

I found myself inspired for this idea thanks to the efforts of Mr. Yann Martel - a brilliant writer who, justly, became famous for writing the book 'The Life of  Pi'.  He had a great idea back when Stephen Harper was in the midst of attacking Arts Funding in Canada, he created whatisstephenharperreading.ca.  The idea was to, once every two weeks, write to Stephen Harper and send a carefully selected book that he hoped would promote 'stillness' within him.  A chance, perhaps, to open a dialogue about our country, the Arts and the need for it here at home.

Unfortunately, I don't exactly have the kind of disposable income necessary to send off a book every two weeks, and, frankly, I'm just nowhere near as well-read as Mr. Martel.

But I am a writer.  And if there's one thing I desperately want it's a dialogue about these allegations and what even the threat of them has done to our country.

Actually, no.  That's not the one thing I want; I want answers.  I know it happened.  There's more than enough evidence to show that SOMEONE tampered with the 41st General Election.  I want to know who did it and why.  How they did it and how we can prevent it in the future.

I want someone punished - and I have a pretty good idea who deserves the paddle.

Anyways, I've decided I would try writing a letter every day to the Governor General, David Johnston.  Asking him for a Royal Commission into the Robofraud scandal.

I've also decided to try writing these letters by hand, in cursive.

Needless to say, that's been a whole other experience (my cursive is... rusty, at best) but my hope is that by seeing the time I've spent, writing these letters by hand, I might just make it to the Governor General's desk.  Maybe he'll read it and think it's trash, maybe I'll get a response.  But I figure it's a far better idea than just doing what I've been doing.

I sent the first letter off this morning, I dated it for Monday in the hopes he'll get it by then - also it gives me a head start because I've also learned that writing in cursive takes me a hell of a long time.

But hopefully it'll be worth it.

And, at the very least, my cursive writing's getting a bit of a workout.

Below find the full text of my letter (or scanned pages of my letter above):


                                                                                                                                                March 26th, 2012
To His Excellency
The Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General of Canada,

Good day to you,

My name is Brandon Laraby.  I’m a writer living in Toronto, Ontario and I’m writing to you today because I’m finding myself with a problem that I believe only the Governor General can help with. 

Actually, to be honest, a great deal of my fellow citizens have this problem as well, but being as I am but one man, I shall speak for myself and my experiences and learnings thus far.

I was inspired to write this letter to you by Yann Martel’s brilliant ‘Book Club’ that he ran for our Prime Minister Stephen Harper (http://www.whatisstephenharperreading.ca).  The idea was to share with him books that might promote ‘stillness’ within him and allow for a dialogue to be opened.  Mr. Martel wrote a fantastic book called ‘The Life Of Pi’, perhaps you’ve read it?

Unfortunately, I have yet to come anywhere near the level of brilliance that Mr. Martel has achieved in his prose so please allow me to apologize in advance for any coarseness in my own.

And yet here I am, inspired.  Writing to you, good sir, in the hope that you might hear my words, my frustrations, and be swayed to intervene and call a Royal Commission into the allegations of Electoral fraud in the 41st General Election.

I must admit that it’s an odd feeling, to come to you like this – to, essentially, go above ‘the boss’s’ head; yet I feel compelled to, your Excellency, because it seems, more and more, like we have been lied to.  Deceived.   While we have not yet been able to definitively prove that the Conservative party is behind this fraud, there is mounting evidence that the fault lies at their feet.  At the very least their behaviour is not that of innocent men.

I won’t go into it too deeply for now, this letter is to serve, primarily, as an introduction and to, I hope, open a dialogue between us.  My plan thus far is to write to you every day for the foreseeable future and ask you for this Royal Commission.  I will do this because I have no faith in the current head of my government to do what’s right.  I will do this because I believe that I and the rest of my fellows – decent, law-abiding citizens – deserve to know the truth.

Firstly, did it happen?  If so, who was involved?  How did the fraud take place? 

Did this Government legally win a Majority in the last election?

These are questions that need answers, your Excellency, and I hope you will assist us all by calling for a Royal Commission into the allegations of Electoral Fraud in the 41st General Election.

Thank you very much for your time,
Brandon C. Laraby
  
If I get any responses, I'll be sure to post them here.  I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm willing to give it an honest try.

Cheers all,
Brandon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Ticking Clock

Lots of ground to cover, a lot's happened in the last couple of days.  But first off, before we do anything else, I want to put this out there:

If you live in a #robocall riding, you have until March 24th to get before a judge and ask for a by-election.

Yes, you can do that.  If you don't know how to do that, that's also okay.

First, go here or here (scroll down to find your province) and make sure you're in one of the (many) robocall ridings.

Then, if you are, go to the Council of Canadians website and let them know.  They'll be able to help you and/or walk you through the process.

Just make sure to get the process started before March 24th, after that time period (30 days as explained so eloquently here) you're basically SOL.

Yeah, that's right: 3 days and counting.

The clock is ticking.

Moving on:

Well, the biggest 'news' so far is that all MPs are home in their ridings this week which means there's no House of Commons and no Question Period. That's going to take a bit of wind out of the Robocall story's sails.

And there's lots of other news going on in the world right now.

Luckily a select few people haven't been sitting on their laurels, including one Rick Mercer who all but asks Governor General David Johnston to call for a Royal Commission into the Robofraud scandal.





Incidentally, since Stephen Harper has no intention of calling a public inquiry into this thing, your best shot is to write to the Governor General of Canada and let him know how you feel.  You can do that by going to this page here and learning the procedure.

Because it is a procedure.  You're basically going over the boss's head here, asking the Queen's representative in Canada to step in and do the right thing.  The chances are slim that he'll step in but if enough people make enough noise and ask him to do it -- Stephen Harper will probably start a preemptive one just to keep other people's fingers out of the pie.

But at least it'll get the ball rolling.

Next up, our good French-Canadian friend over at Unfuckwithable.ca has been doing some incredible work figuring out how the last election would've turned out if the Robocall scandal hadn't have had an effect.

See, first he went through each affected riding (find your province) and showed that there was an effect, and then he calculated how much of an effect it was.

Long and short of it: we would've had another Conservative Minority government.

Huh.  Kind of reminds me of that motive that I wrote about before.  Remember?  With Harper not willing to take a 3rd Minority? Yeah, that seems to have more of a ring to it now.

Finally, there's been some related and some 'not exactly related to Robofraud' news that's worth sharing.  Find those links below:

Yukoners report getting election robocalls
John Ivison: F-35 bid process was ‘hijacked’ by DND, former official says
Alberta colleges, universities made illegal donations to Tories <-- in one case they can prove the Party directly knew it was illegal.
Government Already Lying About New Audit That Hasn’t Even Been Published Yet?
No one but the PBO seems to care what things really cost <-- PMO is spending your tax money without investigating full cost of what he's ordering.
Cons now say Election Fraud "Robocalls" to Non Conservative Ridings Were Mistakes <-- aka 'shit happens'

UPDATE: Adding in this link [holy crap!]: Investigation: How public money flows to Tory coffers 

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 19, 2012

Attack Ad Shows Harper's Weakness

Okay, so instead of updating yesterday's post, I've decided just to keep on rolling.

Hope you don't mind.

Today, oddly enough, ended up being surprisingly uneventful as far as 'furthering the discussion' went.

That said, something far more interesting happened:

Stephen Harper thought that, for some reason, this would be an excellent time to release an attack ad against Bob Rae.

Now, normally I wouldn't post it, but I think it actually makes a pretty strong point as to how the Robocall Scandal is making a serious dent in Harper's armour.

Watch below:




When I first watched it I shook my head about how silly it was. But then I started thinking about the subtext of it, the fact that the ad is basically Stephen Harper saying to the country 'if not me, then who?' in the context of being a leader.

Arrogance + Anger (or, perhaps... a guilty conscience) = lashing out...?

That made me pause for a moment.

Made me think:

Why would you run an attack ad against the leader of a severely weakened party when there's not even an election on?  Hell, we're not even close to an election.  Why not attack the NDP, your official opposition?

Unless there's something else there. What if your advisers were telling you things that you didn't want to hear? What if the news was out that this 'Robocall' thing isn't going to be contained and, worse, there's definitive evidence in the wind... and they (or someone) has it.

Now I'm not saying that that's happened - but it seems like an oddly-timed attack, wouldn't you think? What if you knew there were going to be elections coming up, maybe it's worth greasing the polls a bit ahead of time.

Remind people who's in charge?

Or it could all just be another simple attempt at distraction.

If so, I'd say it didn't work.  The Liberals certainly aren't a threat to you in their current form, and won't be until 2015-ish.

In the end all he did was tip his hand and show us a very important bit of info: The Robocall scandal may not be hurting his base, but it's hitting him hard.

In other news, you should definitely check out the blog Unfuckwithable - this guy has done some seriously intense and impressive research into what he claims are 98 ridings with suspicious numbers and then breaks it down to show you his reasoning.

Here's an excerpt from one of his blogs:

"Tomorrow/later on today, I’ll start posting my analysis of all 98 ridings (out of 308) where there were major voting irregularities, or robocalling, or outright voter suppression.  I’m not going to mince words: the Conservative Party is responsible for the overwhelming majority of these.  I have 21 separate incidents where they broke the law — with proof.  I also have around another 20 where they seriously infringed on the rights of Canadians to have fair and free elections.  A lot of ridings involve Ministers of the Crown.  With the exception of Guelph (which is still extremely unclear), there is absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing by either the Liberal Party or NDP.
ALL of my projections from recalculating the 2011 general election show a Conservative minority government, at the expense of the Liberals (notwithstanding the unpopularity of Michael Ignatieff).  First I started with the effects of 34 ridings, as reported/provided by the opposition parties.  By myself I was able to uncover the rest.  Adding that into my projections, the Conservative Party actually would’ve LOST SEATS, the NDP would be very strong, but they probably wouldn’t be the official opposition."
And it only gets more intense from there.  The biggest posts - on Ontario and BC - have yet to go up as of this writing, but what's there so far is bloody impressive.
Go. Look.
Anyways, if you're up for more reading on this subject and more, check out these links here:


Robo/Real Call Raw Cheese Story....All Politics Is Local
About those US Republicans who campaign for Canadians <-- This one actually uncovers Julian Fantino's campaign breaking an election law
US Fundamental evangelicals worked on Conservative Ministers campaigns
Former Harper adviser allegedly lobbied Aboriginal Affairs for then fiancée

Cheers!
Brandon

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Messy Leak


Okay, so I couldn't wait for Monday to post this - so consider this, along with any updates that happen on Monday, as Monday's post.

Sound good? Alright, from this point on we're running!

In case you missed it, on Friday the CPC went and 'leaked' some key info about Pierre Poutine -- info that just happened to conveniently support everything that they've been saying so far, mostly that it was a one single person behind everything -- to Pro-Conservative journalist John Ivison.

That 'leak' produced this National Post article that did its very best to run roughshod over the idea that there's something much bigger than Guelph going on here... which, I guess, was the point.

Except for one little problem:

In leaking this information, the Conservative party has actually gone and shot themselves in the foot big time.

See 'cause the information wasn't formally released AND because Racknine -- the only conceivable other place that would have access to that information outside of Elections Canada and the RCMP -- has no real reason to give that information to the CPC, all sorts of questions are now swirling:

1. Where did the Conservatives get this 'evidence' that they just leaked?

2. Why leak it to the National Post instead of giving it to the RCMP and Elections Canada like they're supposed to?

3. Exactly how long have they been sitting on this information?

4. If this was the work of one guy with one phone and one 'crank call' that went out across the country to 5053 people -- as the CPC would have you believe -- then why did different people get messages directing them not to the Guelph polling station, but to an alternative, locally relevant polling station?

5. Even if that's true, what about those people who got live-calls instead of robocalls?

Again, a whole host of things that just plain don't add up.

More to come as Monday unfolds and people, hopefully, start asking some very pointed questions.

For now, if you're interested, check out the following links for more information:

Why Do The Conservatives Have Evidence of Vote Fraud? (And What Are They Doing With It?)
RoboConduct unbecoming
Anonymous Conservatives With Poutine’s Phone Records? Oh Oh!
Robocalls call for ‘huge investigation,’ says Stephen Harper’s ex-chief of staff Ian Brodie

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, March 16, 2012

Suspicious Patterns



The head of Elections Canada, Marc Mayrand, has come out and given us all an update - out of the 1003 phone calls registered with EC before and just after the Election on May 2nd, 700 of them have been labelled as information 'gold'.  All across the country, people have been reporting that they received automated messages telling them that their polling stations had been changed.

What's interesting about all of this is that it's not just a case of 'oh your polling station has changed' it's 'your polling station at X has been changed to Y'.



 Fake Elections Canada Robo-Call (May 2, 2011) by David James Hudson


That means that someone had to go through the trouble of creating many, many different audio messages, each one specific not only to the current riding, but also offering a viable alternative to where the polling station could've been moved to.

That means that whomever created the messages had access to a font of very, very detailed information broken down by riding.  Aka: Not a bunch of prank kids, not just a few 'erroneous' phone calls.

This is widespread and it's intentional.

The video I embedded up there seems to add some credence to the idea, even bringing up the much-vaunted CIMS -- the Conservatives voter information database aka. Constituency Information Management System.  Every major political party has one but CIMS is widely considered to be the best and most advanced.

How advanced? Well it's not just a couple of lines - each person has their own individual page which breaks down, exactly where you stand with the party and any other information they've managed to collect on you.  Not only your political affiliation, but right down to, in some cases, if you like Star Trek or not.

The biggest thing about this database is how secure it's supposed to be.  The higher you are up the chain, the more of the information you get to see.  Lower levels never see more than one line of simplified information at a time, those higher up... well, that's a different story.

Because this database tracks where you are on the political spectrum -- negative 15 being a firm 'non-Conservative' supporter -- along with your age, your name and your address, it would be astonishingly simple to select for an age range, and those in the higher 'negative' range and spit out a list of people to call.

And if they didn't know where you fell on the spectrum?  Well, that's where those preliminary phone calls would come in.

"Will you be supporting the conservative candidate this election?'

They obviously have your name and your phone number, they just need to know which way you're going to swing.  If you're pro-conservative? Great, thanks for your support.  + 1 to 15.  If it's a 'No', a 'Hell No' or a 'You can *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*' then it's a simple keystroke to turn you into a -1 to -15 and *boom* you're cataloged.

However, because the security of the CIMS system is supposed to be air tight, every query, every entry is logged somewhere.

Which means that the things we should be looking for are: Who asked for that kind of access to the database and Who granted it?

Maybe then we can start to get some answers -- assuming the CPC will give the RCMP and Elections Canada access to their CIMS logs from May 2nd or earlier. (and they're smart enough to stick a good data forensics analyst on it).

In closing, still no smoking guns... but this story is shining light on some very important facts -- and making the many claims of CPC innocence ring a tad hollow.

For further reading, if you're interested, check out these links:

Misleading robocalls went to voters ID'd as non-Tories

UPDATE: a great addition here - The Robocall Timecapsule, what was reported WHEN it was actually going on (turns out there was quite a bit).
Cheers!
Brandon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fighting Fire with... uh...

So, with the majority of my work sitting in the 'done' or 'very nearly done' category right now -- the last meetup for my web series went astonishingly well, burned through the whole shebang in about 3-ish hours -- I'm finding myself sucked deeper and deeper in to the politics of the Robocall scandal.

Needless to say, my blogs for the next little while are going to be headed in that direction.  If you're of an a-political stripe or just generally don't give a shit about my opinions re: my country and/or Government, this's probably where I'll be bidding you adieu.  I'm not sure when I'll be getting back into the regular swing of things, but, seeing as I'm having trouble talking about much else anyways, anything I put forth here would probably land with a resounding plop.

It's tough to find myself getting pulled into this again especially after I found myself flaming out the last time.

Of course I made all the classic newbie mistakes, not the least of which was thinking that just 'cause I gave a damn others would have to as well.

Some things, some concepts can seem so crystal clear - cause and effect, step-to-step-to-step and yet, like trying to explain the refined aftertaste of Drano, sometimes there's just no way to make it make sense without people looking at you cock-eyed (not that I know what Drano tastes like).

For a time I found that most would nod along or feign interest but largely, what I was talking about didn't matter to them.


And when it finally came to a head - when my own family and friends told me I was wasting my time... yeah.

That's apathy's fertile delta right there.

The other rookie mistake I made was that I wasn't doing it for me.  I was doing it because I believed in a movement, I believed in an idea.  But not only could I not 'see' it, I didn't actually understand what I would've achieved had we won the day.

All heart, lots of passion and drive with no frickin' idea of what I was fighting for.  Or, ultimately, why it mattered for me.  Geez, I must've been the poster child for 'means-well-but-doesn't-get-it'.

Like so many of these Kony2012 kids, I saw that there was a problem, an injustice but I didn't know how to make it right.  I won't go into the specifics of my old political chestnut, but if you look around here deep enough, you'll find my posts on it.  I read them and it brings a smile, like a pure-burning spec of good-intent.

It's different now though.  I'm older... somewhat wiser - still a bit naive in some regards (but working on that), there's still a whole host of things I just plain don't know.

But I'm learning what I don't know... and then learning about it.  And then asking questions.

More importantly, I understand why I'm getting into this again.  Why I care - even if no one else does.

And I can feel the difference - a conviction where there was none.  Something driving me to dig deep and learn.

Right now I know two things for certain:


1) Someone interfered with the political process in the last election
2) It wasn't just a couple of prankster kids.


I also know that our Prime Minister could've ended this whole thing on the first day by saying anything remotely close to this:

"Any tampering with our political process is an outrage and we will get to the bottom of it.  Full disclosure, the Conservatives used Robocalls in the last election and we will be releasing all of our documentation to Elections Canada to assist in the investigation."

Instead, the actions of the Conservative party have been suspicious at best and duplicitous at worst.  Lies, mudslinging, smokescreens. Firing staffers, tampering with evidence, changing stories and tactics from Aggressor to Defensive to Aggressor and back.

These are not the actions of people with a clean conscience.  Of those willing to just sit back and wait for an Elections Canada report that vindicates them completely.

If you were a police officer and had a suspect like this in for questioning... wouldn't you just, instinctively, feel the need to dig?  To try and look for inconsistencies.

As a writer, I like to think up characters and stories - ideas and motives.

Here's my idea, what comes to mind for me:

I imagine a man - an ambitious man but also somewhat paranoid.  A control freak with a tight grip on those around him.

And yet he's a leader, he's charismatic - he knows what to say to inspire others, to bend them to his will.  And so he's become a powerful man - a powerful man who, after years of fighting and sacrifice, telling the right people the right things to move forward has finally earned a fleeting taste of the pinnacle of power.

Actually, he's been at its cusp, held it within his grasp only to watch it fall away and be taken from him.

Twice.

And now, having worked so hard, sacrificed so much, here he stands, his Third chance to claim the fullness of his 'destiny'.  But again, most people around him are telling him that he will fall short, that he will once again be in power, but only just.  He will not have the true power to enact his will as he sees fit.  He will, once again, be leashed in by lesser men.

What would this man do?  Would he quietly accept his fate?  Would he fight with all his heart and do his best this Third time and leave it at that, let the chips fall where they may?

Or would he have an ace in the hole?  Maybe he could have both.

Maybe he does his best, runs his race but at the same time he says 'I don't care how, but make it happen.  Make it deniable'.

But even then... would that satisfy him?

This man who sees every obstacle not as a conflict but a War?  Would he be content to sit on the sidelines, leaving his fate in the hands of others, with no knowledge of how it would shake out... only that it would shake out in his favour?  No.  Control.  There must be something in it that is his.  There must be his will.  His mark.  If he is to win, he will conquer.  He will destroy his opponents and salt the earth where they fall.

And he will watch them burn.

Of course, this is all just an idea.  One iteration of many that I see.  But so much of it speaks to me, a motivation that... just makes sense.

But proof? That's the thing.  That's the kicker.  Not much of that going around at the moment.

But that's okay.  Just gotta keep digging.  Keep learning, keep asking questions.

Like, what was up with that Second bank account that helped Julian Fantino win his Election in Vaughan, Ontario? (oh, this one too -- and this little ditty that I just found)

If you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend reading these two postings - at least one of which implicates some people very, very high up the chain of command.

Confessions of a Robocaller and The "Robocall" Smoking Gun

UPDATE: adding in Inside The Conservative Voter Information Database (CIMS)

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Open Letter To My Government

I went to visit ShitHarperDid.ca today and I noticed they had a section where you could write to the government and demand a full, public inquiry into this RoboFraud scandal.

I read their prepared message... but it didn't quite fit how I felt.

So I decided to write my own.

Hopefully, if you think that things don't quite add up, that this whole situation needs a 3rd, unbiased, set of eyes, you'll go to the site and submit your own letter.

Please find my own letter below.

Cheers,
Brandon

Dear Prime Minister Harper, Ms Turmel, Mr Rae, Ms. May and Mr. Plamondon,

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. 

I write to you today because I believe that, as a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen of Canada, I deserve the right to know just how much ANY reported tampering with the electoral process had an effect on the 41st General Election.

I feel that, as a contributing member of this society I am entitled to know that the Government currently in office -- the one that is making sweeping changes to my country in its name -- deserves the duly elected right to do so.

Now, I know that the Conservative Party likes to pay lip-service to the idea of 'family' and 'values'.

So let me talk about that for a moment.

You see, I was raised to believe in the values of 'accountability' and 'honesty' - to do the right thing, even if it wasn't 'good' for me; to play fair and expect fairness from others.

That's why - easy as it is to delve into Partisanship - this isn't a 'Left' vs 'Right' issue for me. 

This issue, this whole Robocall scandal is about Trust. 

This is about being able to get up in the morning and -- though I may not necessarily agree with the Government that my fellows have chosen -- accept that our Government was the will of my fellows. 

That, despite our differences, we all came together and fairly chose the direction in which we want our country to move.

That the stronger message, the stronger leader won.

Fairly.

This Robocall scandal is so much bigger than what we know, than what we've been able to find out on our own. And yet, here we are. There's no smoking gun but there certainly isn't a dearth of evidence when it comes to wrongdoing.

Yet, instead of having our duly elected Prime Minister standing up, taking charge and saying 'We must get to the bottom of this!' we have political mudslinging and smokescreens. 

We have 'oh, they're just sore losers'.

Let's get something straight here:

There WAS wrongdoing.  There were phone calls that lead people to the wrong polling station - across the country, not just in Guelph.  There were phone operators who came forward and said 'we think we were sending people to the wrong place - and when we complained about it, we were told to stick to the script.' -- And yet the tapes [that proved that] weren't seized or locked away as part of an investigation, the Conservatives were allowed free access to 'investigate' them without RCMP or Elections Canada oversight?

How is that Honest and Accountable? 

How does that not tarnish the trust we are placing into Elections Canada and the RCMP to do their jobs fairly in an unbiased way?

At this point I'm sick of the back and forth and the 'No, you prove me wrongs'.

This is my country and it's my Democracy in question here.

When the smoke clears there must be no questions left.

And that's why, as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, I demand a full, Public Inquiry into this matter.

Thank you for your time,
Brandon Laraby

Note: Automated message follows

I am gravely concerned by the report Elections Canada has just traced illegal phone calls made during the 2011 federal election to a company that worked for the Conservative Party across the country.

The “robocalls” were apparently designed to stop non-Conservative voters from casting ballots in key ridings by falsely telling voters that the location of their polling stations had changed, causing them to go to the wrong location on election day.

This news casts doubt on the legitimacy of our Government. We need answers now, and real consequences for illegal behaviour that may have determined the outcome of our election.

I demand a full and independent public inquiry, backed by Elections Canada and the RCMP, to expose the facts about the robocall scandal and ensure that the penalty for this election fraud matches the consequences of the crime - including possible by-elections in the affected ridings.

We cannot allow individuals to be scapegoated for actions that benefit institutions. We need to lay the foundation for new laws to restore the integrity of Canadian elections.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Weekender

So I'm getting together for a rather massive re-writing session on my Web Series this weekend.  Between the two of us we're going to hammer out what I hope will be a final or near-final version of events that make up the full 6 episodes of my series.

Of course, like so many other things in life, figuring out the timing is the hardest part - not so much the structure of the events, more like 'how the bloody hell do I manage to get both of us into the same room at the same time'.

Luckily, this weekend appears to be of the 'parting of the clouds and radiant beams of light' variety so we might actually get things done.

In other news, my son has decided that now is as good a time as any to try and figure out this whole 'walking' thing.  Only he doesn't really have it down outside of the 'barely standing on my own' bit.  That and whenever he manages to stand on his own for any length of time he starts trying to jump up and down with excitement -- which usually ends up with one of us diving to keep from taking a header on the floor.

This parenting stuff is très exciting.

Did I mention my wife found my first gray hairs?  I'm not saying that it's connected or anything but considering a youngin' like myself is going gray early... yeah, I'm almost prepared to start pointing fingers.

Finally, my 2nd draft of my Doctor Who spec will be finished this weekend with any luck I'll have it in a place where I can start showing it to a wider audience.

More to come on Monday.

Cheers,
Brandon

P.S: For those interested in the RoboCall thing but haven't been following the story on twitter, this article pretty much sums up what this last week was like.  I likened it to 'The Empire Strikes Back' as compared to last week's 'A New Hope'.  This week Harper and the rest of the CPC worked very hard to run the exact same statement into the ground day after day after day in the hopes that people would get bored and go away.  It sort of worked as many major news outlets seemed to have lowered their coverage of events.

What events?  Well, in short:

Apparently there's a course that actively teaches things like 'voter suppression'.  And a whole bunch of Conservatives went there and learned a whole lot.  There's a decent article on that here.

Also, Pierre Poutine is now 'Pierre Jones' - not much better, but apparently Mr. Jones used his personal IP address to get an account with Racknine... so that's a clue.  Whether it'll pan out or not, who knows... but it's more than we had.  There were also several articles that quietly, in a 'step-around-it-carefully-so-that-we-don't-get-sued' sort of way, insinuated that Mr. Matt Meier, CEO of Racknine, may have actually been more involved than he lets on.  I make no accusations one way or another, but it sure is hinky.


And that's the word I'd use for this week.  Hinky.  Lots of 'moral' grandstanding from the Conservative party in Question Period but when confronted with the potential magnitude of the scandal the party chose to respond by saying 'They're just sore losers' instead of 'What? This is an outrage! We must get to the bottom of this at once!'

Which, of course, made me think:

If the shoe was on the other foot, if it was, in fact the Liberals that had tampered with the Election -- the same Liberals that Stephen Harper had almost completely destroyed in the last election -- would he not move Heaven and Earth itself to get to the bottom of this?  Heck, I think you couldn't hire enough private investigators to satisfy him, to fill him with near-damning info with which to use against Bob Rae and Co.

And yet here we are.  Lots of shady activities.  Lots of unanswered questions and a government that has a history of flagrantly breaking the law whenever it suits them.

Oh, and motive too.

We'll see how next week stacks up, but, for my dollar, I'm readying my merry band of Ewoks.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Right, Well Then

So I won't pretend that I'm not utterly absorbed by the concept that our last election was stolen out from under us (which has given me no less than 5 ideas for stories/series, et al) -- but, that said, I still have other things I wish to do with my time.  'Sleep' is one of them but also that other thing... you know, uh... with the typing.

It's been tough to drag myself away from the news feeds and twitter long enough to get actual Capital 'W' Work done, but with a helpful hand from 'oh-crap-I-was-supposed-to-do-that-when?' I've managed to do just that.

Last night I had a pretty spectacular meeting with the Web Series folk, going over our most recent draft, punching things up and generally making it of the 'stronger' variety.  One of the flaws with our last draft was that it ended up becoming rather apparent that our leads had quickly gotten lost amongst all the crazy new stuff we'd added in the other drafts.  Thus this current draft is all about keeping said crazy new stuff while bringing our lead characters to the, uh, well, lead again.

Quite a fun night, if I do say so myself - lots of note taking and point/counterpoint ideas flying fast and loose.  The actual next 'rewrite' will probably happen this weekend, assuming the various factors in our lives allow for such a hallowed thing to take place.  I'm keeping my fingers firmly in the 'crossed' position.

In other news, I've had to do my best to avoid Mass Effect 3 like crazy.  If I hear about it then I will want to play it and if I play it then I can pretty much kiss much of the spring good bye (oh, and that whole 'script' thing that I wanted to tidy up).  See, I played through the other 2 games and found myself enthralled with the story and the characters and have been anticipating the time when I'd finally get to finish the fight.  The time has finally come but I don't dare even consider picking it up.  My time is limited as it is and this... this beautiful thing is the sweetest of poisons.

Finally, my Doctor Who spec 2nd draft is pretty close to finito now.  Just a few pages left and I can put this baby to rest... for a little while.  I didn't really get much in the way of questions about the 2nd draft process so if there's anything I haven't covered that you'd like to see more of or would like broken down a bit more, feel free to shoot me an email over there on the sidebar and I'll get into it further.

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, March 05, 2012

RoboFraud: A Primer

Sorry folks, no script update today - it's lying on my laptop, untouched for most of the last little while.

You see, I've been pretty much enthralled with the Robocall scandal that's been playing out as of late online (mostly).  Some truly shocking information's come to light and, while there's no direct smoking gun as of yet, The Harper Government (tm) has been bold - if off-kilter - in denouncing the whole thing as a 'smear tactic'.

If you're just coming to the table on this, essentially, before and during the May 2nd, 2011 election a whole swath of people reported receiving phone calls from Elections Canada - or people claiming to be from Elections Canada - telling them that their polling stations had changed.  There were also many reports of phone calls from people claiming to represent the Liberal/NDP candidate who were then blatantly insulting or harassing.  Some people reported getting phone calls in the dead of night.

All in all there were 1003 complaints lodged.

Most folks would call something like this 'Voter suppression'.  Or, legally, 'Election Fraud'.

The Conservatives have stated that it's all just a bunch of mistakes.  Random 'crank' calls from one or two people acting badly.

You can hear one of the fraudulent Robo-Calls here.



Fake Elections Canada Robo-Call (May 2, 2011) by David James Hudson


Anyways, let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

When the original story broke on Feb 22nd the Conservative Party was quick to say that whoever did it acted alone.  A young Conservative staffer named Michael Sona decided to resign his position effective immediately -- even though he wasn't under any investigation whatsoever.  Many saw it as a sign of the CPC throwing Mr. Sona under the bus while hoping that the story would just blow itself out.

But then Michael Sona denied all involvement.

And the fraudulent phone calls were traced back to a VOIP call center/company called RackNine.  \

One affected area, Guelph, started to come into focus as tales of 'Black-Ops-style interactions' with 'burner cell phones' and 'spoofed phone numbers' came to light and, oddly, all of these calls were to traced back Racknine.  Someone had been using said disposable cell phone to co-ordinate this campaign of fraudulent calls. It all culminated with the reveal of who ultimately purchased said disposable cell phone: A Mr. Pierre Poutine from Separatist St, Joliette, Québec.

Needless to say, this obviously fake name has stirred up the passions of Canada's comedic community.  But the hunt is on to find out who this person is -- apparently said person used a credit card to purchase the cell phone and has been described as 'sloppy' by the investigator looking into the case.

Meanwhile, PM Harper and the Conservatives made a big stink about how everyone should just calm down and let the RCMP and Elections Canada conduct their investigations.

But then it came to light that some people working at RMG, a call center hired by the Conservatives to work the last election in Thunder Bay, had come forward saying that they were calling people to let them know that polling locations had changed - but the people that they told disagreed.  They started to seriously question the validity of the information they were dispersing.  Worse, they had reported it to their bosses and were told to 'stick to the script'.

Even better?  Once this information came to light, Conservatives went to Thunder Bay ahead of time to inspect the RMG tapes and interview workers -- even though Elections Canada was to conduct their investigation there only a few days later.  Guess they had a change of heart about that whole 'wait for Elections Canada to do its job' thing.

Now this in and of itself wouldn't be a problem if Stephen Harper stood before everyone and said anything close to 'This is a serious threat to our democracy and I will not rest until we get to the bottom of this'.  Instead he went on the counter attack.

After the Michael Sona dismissal fizzled out, our PM (and his ministers) began calling the whole affair a 'smear campaign by sore losers'.  He then stood defiant and tried to turn the whole thing onto the Liberals.  First insinuating that they concocted this whole thing, suppressing their own voters so that they could attack Harper with it, stating that the calls came from  a North Dakota-Based robocall center and because the Conservatives NEVER used US-based call centers, it could only have been the Liberals who made these fraudulent calls.

This attack fell short however when it came to light that there were two similarly named companies, one American, one Canadian.  The American company had never done any business with the Liberals and the CEO of the company stated as much.  Moreso, it came to light that our PM had lied in that 14 Conservatives had used a US Telemarketing firm in the last Federal Election Campaign.

Then the Harper Government pretty much laughed off the revelation that over 31,000 'contacts' had come to light in recent weeks over the last election.  People all over the country were remembering odd phone calls that they'd once just shrugged off and letting Elections Canada know. 

Sure, some of said complaints were filed by Conservative wonks looking to make light of the situation. 
But I suspect that at least a few of said 31,000 are legitimate.

So, where do we stand now?

Well, so far Stephen Harper has made no effort to start public inquiry on the subject - despite public outcry for one.  Today a Conservative backbencher laid the blame squarely on Elections Canada's shoulders for providing 'sloppy voter lists'.

Funny side story to that - This story was storming across the Twitterverse earlier tonight: Elections Canada: "Some political parties did not comply" with request that polling station info be for internal use only. Apparently Elections Canada told everyone, explicitly, not to call voters about polling changes, instead to direct them to Elections Canada Website. It would seem that the Conservative party ignored that directive.

Elections Canada is now so inundated with work from the 31,000 new complaints that they're asking the CRTC to help take the load off. 

Worse, the pundits are telling everyone to sit down and strap in for what will most likely end up being another 'In-and-Out' scandal-type situation.  Where, after 4 years and 2 Federal Elections, the Conservatives settled the complaint for a $50,000 fine.

So, here we are, what do I personally make of all this?

Well the biggest question I have to ask is this: "Who stood to benefit the most from the RoboCall tactic?"

The Conservatives would have you believe that the Liberals knew they were going to lose the election so they concocted this whole scheme to alienate their own voters... so that they could later turn it on Harper's Government.

Okay.

But let's look at the facts: Stephen Harper had just had 2-back-to-back Minority Governments. He'd just lost the last one after a No-Confidence vote in the House for 'Contempt of Parliament' (not a criminal charge, but certainly damning). 

And yet he came roaring back with an unprecedented Conservative Majority.

A 'Majority' he won by 16, 568 votes - with some ridings being decided by as few as 18 and 26 votes.  Do you think that a concerted Voter Suppression tactic might've been just effective enough to keep 18 people from voting - or to vote for someone else?  What about 26 or 300 people?

The Harper Government is known for outright breaking Election laws whenever it suits them - including pleading guilty to 'overspending by $1million' in the 2006 Election that won Harper his first Minority Government.

You can find a rather long list of other shady things here at Project 404 3c.

But for my money, I have to also ask this question: "How could a man renowned for his vice-like grip on his ministers - vetting everything they say and everything they do before it ever becomes public - not know about the Robocall scandal?"

It's heartening to know that I'm not the only one asking this question.

Of course, he could've simply said 'this never makes it back to me' and feet would've pounded pavement just as fast... but proof... yeah, that's the thing.

Thankfully people are digging and the pool of people getting interested in this story is growing.  And the populace is MAD.

'Cause if Stephen Harper really did steal the May 2nd election through a concerted voter suppression 'robocall' effort then I want to know and I don't want to wait 4 more years.  I don't want him to have free run to change Canada at his whim if he didn't earn it.

My name is Brandon Laraby, I am a tax-paying Canadian citizen and I am demanding a full, public inquiry into this RoboCall scandal.

I want to know who did what and when and, most importantly, who knew.

And I want to know now!