Monday, 27 February 2012

Voter Suppression in Winnipeg?

Note: The first sentence initially read "Last Federal election a lot of ridings in this provincially Orange city went Tory Blue". Given that a commenter interpreted that to mean that I was insinuating all or most of the Federal-Provincial discrepancy an anomalous outcome, I have since changed the the wording. A divided centre-left vote and a cautious preference for the more established Federal Parties has all lead to less NDP seats in Winnipeg (confined to 3 MPs in recent memory). 

However, the Conservatives don't generally do an absolute killing in Winnipeg, winning 6 of the 8 seats (3/4 of the seats) in this city. It looks like - in at least two of those victories - the Conservatives may have gotten over the tally using dirty tricks. Given that Winnipeg has 8 seats, that means that the Conservatives stood to gain 25% of this city's seats by voter suppression - not a lot compared to the rest of the nation, but still potentially a significant distortion of the Winnipeg electorate's intentions. 
Last Federal election a lot of ridings in this city went Tory Blue. One of those ridings was Elmwood-Transcona - where New Democrat Jim Maloway lost by under 300 votes to Conservative Lawrence Toet. The Conservatives also turned the formerly Liberal riding of Winnipeg South Centre Blue as well and held onto Saint Boniface (by a comfy margin).

In all three ridings there's some preliminary evidence (enough to warrant an  Elections Canada investigation) that Conservative operatives sent out automated messages with the wrong info about where to vote. That is, they impersonated Elections Canada officials to phone Dippers/Grits and tell them to vote at wrong or non-existent polling stations.  This may have suppressed NDP/Liberal vote totals - possibly tipping Conservative MPs into first place in some of the closer races. Evidence of Conservative foul play isn't limited to Manitoba - a lot of the cases involve close Southern Ontarian races.

Michael Sona - a Conservative Party hack alleged to have attempted ballot box theft  - has resigned as Elections Canada investigates voter suppression accusations in Guelph, Ontario. Given the probable attempt at suppressing student votes, it wouldn't be that surprising if Sona had a hand in the automated call fiasco. But there almost certainly were bigger apples.

As Pat Martin elegantly argues, voter suppression is a grave scandal - potentially graver than the Sponsorship Scandal.

If Elections Canada finds evidence of systematic wrongdoing on the part of the Conservatives, this will add to their already impressive rap sheet. The party voted in due to Liberal corruption will likely top their predecessors pretty damn soon.


  1. "Last Federal election a lot of ridings in this provincially Orange city went Tory Blue."

    You seem to insinuate that there was a significant change in seats in Winnipeg, when in fact there were only two seats that changed. One seat that the Tories had been targeting for years and another where people got fed up with the useless tool 'Maloway'.To suggest that it's an anomoly for a city to vote predominately NDP provincially and Conservative federally shows a complete ignorance of both provincial and federal politics in this country.

  2. *MAYBE* I should have been clearer in the opening post - but most of the seats I cited (2/3) were Liberal - I'm well aware that the Liberal/NDP vote is split at the Federal level and that some provincial NDP voters even vote Tory.

  3. Targeting a riding, btw, doesn't preclude trying to suppress the other guys vote. As a matter of fact, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to use voter suppression tricks in ridings that are CLOSE then it does in ridings where the only thing you stand to gain is bad publicity.