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Mike Duffy points finger at 'third parties' amid election-mischief furor

Former broadcaster and Tory Senator Mike Duffy gives an interview in Toronto in January of 2007

Ryan Carter/Ryan Carter/The Globe and Maill

Conservative Senator Mike Duffy says "third parties" – and not necessarily any of the political parties – could be behind election "robo-call" scandal that's become a full-blown headache for Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Mr. Duffy offered up his theory in the blame game over a spate of May 2 phone-calls misdirecting voters in an interview with morning host Jordi Morgan on Halifax radio station News 95.7 Monday morning.

"I don't believe it was the Conservative Party. But if something is going on, don't forget, we have all these other groups," Mr. Duffy said.

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"People have to remember that it's not just political parties that are operating during a federal election campaign," he added. "Under the law, we have all kinds of interested third parties that are operating in election campaigns, and I think that's where we have to be careful. People are throwing stones but there have been third parties that have been attacking Conservatives as well as Liberals and New Democrats."

This weekend, both the NDP and Liberals listed 29 ridings in which they claimed dirty tricks skewed results, with voters either misled by automated calls purporting to be from Elections Canada about the location of polling stations, or where live callers misrepresented themselves as working for rival parties. In some cases, voters allegedly received harassing late-night calls.

"This isn't the end of the world here," Mr. Duffy said on the scandal gripping federal politics this week. "But it is something that needs to be investigated and frankly burns my butt, because the dirty tricksters are at it and I don't think anybody in politics like this."

In another development, several former employees at a Thunder Bay-based call centre operated by Responsive Marketing Group told the Toronto Star they were asked to read scripts on behalf of the Conservatives telling voters their polling stations had changed.

And Later Monday, House Speaker Andrew Scheer is expected to rule on Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's request for an emergency debate shortly after Question Period.

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