Telephone operators working an automated call center in Thunder Bay for the Conservative Party during the May 2 election campaign were part of the vast scheme to send Liberal supporters to fictitious election polls.
The first telephone scam operation came to light last week. An Edmonton call centre firm RackNine Inc., who had worked for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s organization of in Calgary was calling up Liberals and sending them to non-existent polls.
Now it comes out there was another firm, Responsive Marketing Group Inc., in Thunder Bay, who was doing the same thing in other targeted ridings.
Postmedia journalists discovered the Edmonton operation, while a Toronto Star team discovered the Thunder Bay scam.
One of the RMG women operators was so worried about doing something wrong, that she reported it to the RCMP in Thunder Bay and was told there was nothing the Mounties could do.
The Canada Election Act is clear. Misleading voters to supress their vote, or pretending to be from Elections Canada to send somebody to a fictitious polling station is a crime, punishable by a fine of $5,000 or up to five years in jail.
Annette Desgagné , 46, told Toronto Star reporters that at some point, it became clear to her - after many people complained that the "new" polling stations did not exist, or were located across town -- that the RMG telephone operators were being used to mislead voters.
"We sent people to the wrong places," said Desgagné.
Some call center workers were so confused that they began to tell voters that they should re-check with Elections Canada, the address of the polling station they were telling them to go to.
Two other women at RMG confirmed to reporters what Desgagné said.
The Conservative Party, unlike last week, was no longer denying yesterday about the scam to mislead voters, but said was only an “error of inadvertence” by the telephone operators.
Desgagné said that earlier in the campaign she and three other former employees, have been calling voters at home to identify the party preferences of voters and turning over their list of names to the Conservative Party.
She explained how the names of Liberal supporters were gathered.
If a person was identified as a Liberal or NDP supporter, the operator hit a button on the computer to indicate that the person was not a Conservative supporter, said Desgagné.
If a person was identified as a Conservative supporter, the call was forwarded to a colleague who went on to solicit a donation.
The scandal just keeps spreading and spreading