The Alberta Party is calling for the province’s election commissioner to investigate after a man says he received a robocall that impersonated the party’s leader and said he supports the United Conservatives.
Bob Wispinski of Ardrossan, east of Edmonton, says he picked up his land line Saturday afternoon and the recorded voice identified himself as Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel.
Wispinski says the recording praised United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney and concluded by saying that he would be supporting Kenney in Tuesday’s election.
Mandel says he has never advocated voting for anyone other than the Alberta Party.
The UCP and a representative for its candidate for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park constituency, which includes Ardrossan, say they aren’t connected with the call.
The NDP won the seat in the 2015 election.
“I answered the call and it says, ‘Hi, I’m Stephen Mandel of the Alberta Party. As you know, Tuesday we’re having an election, and if you believe in Alberta, Jason Kenney has all the answers,” said Wispinski.
“At first I thought this makes no sense. Why would anybody do that? And I thought, what the hell? I’ve never heard this kind of politicking going on before.”
“And at the end of it it says, ‘I am Stephen Mandel and I support Jason Kenney of the UCP Party.“’
Wispinski, who supports the Alberta Party and is familiar with Mandel’s voice from the TV leaders’ debate and from when Mandel was Edmonton’s mayor, said it really did sound like Mandel.
He said he called a friend who is an Alberta Party candidate, who then invited him to share his information with the party.
“How many other people have been misled? How many votes have we already lost?” Mandel asked in a news release Sunday.
“With the polls opening in less than 48 hours we call on the RCMP and Elections Integrity Commissioner to take immediate action before any further damage to our campaign is done.”
Calls and emails to the commissioner’s office were not immediately returned on Sunday.
The UCP responded that all of its calls follow provincial and federal requirements, and clearly identify that they are coming from the UCP. The party also said the call “does appear to align with a narrative the NDP is pushing.”
“It is disappointing that some in this election are more interested in fear and smear tactics, as opposed to talking about their record and vision for the future,” the UCP stated.
Later Sunday, the UCP pointed to a media report that a person had mistakenly believed a legitimate recorded telephone endorsement of Kenney by former prime minister Stephen Harper had come from Mandel.
Both the UCP and NDP deny any knowledge of the call’s origin.
“I have absolutely no knowledge of where that call originated, but it certainly wasn’t from us,” said Mitch Gray, campaign manager for Strathcona-Sherwood Park UCP candidate Nate Glubis.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she knew nothing of the call when asked about it at a campaign event in Calgary on Sunday.
“I’ve honestly just heard about the rumours on this. So obviously it shouldn’t happen and I certainly hope people use due diligence.”