Stephen White was on the fence during the last election – should he vote for the New Democrat or the Liberal in his riding? And then he got an automated phone call, allegedly from the Liberal Party, that sealed the deal.
“For me, that was the moment I decided to vote NDP. It definitely changed my vote,” said Mr. White, a 34-year-old in the Eastern Ontario riding of Northumberland–Quinte West. “There was no question in my mind that that’s the reason for voting the way I did.”
As the list of ridings that got misleading robo-calls continues to grow, pundits and the public are questioning whether they had any impact on the electoral result. The Globe and Mail issued a call-out to our readers, asking them to share their stories from last May’s election.
Mr. White, one of the respondents, said he received a “really obnoxious call” around 9 o’clock at night that woke up his 3-year-old toddler and 18-month-old baby.
“It started off with something like, ‘Hi, I’m calling from the Liberal Party’ and basically went on and on, before saying that they were counting on my vote,” he said. “And all I could think was, those arrogant bastards.”
In riding after riding, the Liberals have said they don’t call their voters that late in the night and Kim Rudd, the Liberal candidate in Mr. White’s Northumberland–Quinte West riding confirmed to The Globe her party did not make use of robo-calls there.
In retrospect, Mr. White says he might have voted differently, especially given recent media reports of calls pretending to be from a certain political party or Elections Canada.
Michael Cole, another Globe reader from the Toronto riding Beaches–East York, said he, too received a late-night automated call, supposedly from the Liberal incumbent.
“My wife and I were both very annoyed by the call, almost voted NDP as a direct result,” Mr. Cole said.
Elections Canada has also received complaints from those who say they got calls purportedly from the federal agency.
Globe reader Donald Poyner said he got a robo-call on election day from someone claiming to be “Elections Canada” informing him his polling station in his Mississauga East–Cooksville riding had changed.
“I wasn’t led astray. ... They wanted me to vote elsewhere, but my polling station has been the same for many, many years,” he said.
Several voters have come forward saying their call display said Elections Canada, but the information on the automated message was bogus.
Jim Maloway, the NDP incumbent who lost his seat in the Manitoba riding of Elmwood said his office got a complaint from one such voter.
“They gave the wrong info, but he picked it up because it said Elections Canada,” Mr. Maloway told The Globe.
Despite the opposition complaints, Stephen Harper’s government has distanced itself from the misleading calls. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister declared categorically: “The Conservative Party can say absolutely, definitively, it has no role in any of this.”