02/28/2012 04:38 EST | Updated 04/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Robocalls Scandal: 'Pierre Poutine' Made Calls In Election Fraud Affair

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OTTAWA - Court documents show a cellphone in the robocalls affair was registered to Pierre Poutine of Separatist Street in Joliette, Que.

Elections Canada's chief investigator says the clearly fake name was likely used to cover the tracks of whoever was behind misleading and harassing calls to voters in Guelph, Ont., in the last federal election.

Voters in Guelph reported getting calls from a phone number with a 450 area code directing them to the wrong polling station.

Elections Canada investigator Al Mathews obtained phone records showing the number behind the Guelph calls was the same one registered to "Pierre Poutine."

The phone records also show the number registered to Pierre Poutine twice called Edmonton-based RackNine Inc., on April 30 and May 1.

The claims, which have not been proved in court, are laid out in an Information to Obtain a Production Order filed in an Edmonton court in November, and first reported Tuesday by Postmedia and the Ottawa Citizen.

The records also show phones associated with Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke and the Guelph Conservative riding association made a total of 31 calls to RackNine between March 26 and early May.

"I think it is reasonable to believe that some sort of consumer relationship existed between the Marty Burke Conservative campaign in Guelph for the 41st general election and RackNine Inc., or between certain Burke campaign workers and RackNine Inc.," Mathews concludes.

"(And) that this relationship was related to the general election campaign in Guelph; and that the relationship related to the misleading calls made to Guelph area electors which they perceived as coming from the phone number 450-760-7746."

The Burke campaign did not report any business with RackNine in its Elections Canada return. But the investigator says it is likely Burke's campaign had business dealings with RackNine.

Instead, the return shows the Burke campaign paid Campaign Research $6,215 and Responsive Marketing Group $15,000. Those companies provide services similar to RackNine's.

"I believe that the individual(s) behind the misleading calls which are the subject of this investigation would not want a local campaign to be identified with the calls, as they amount to improper activity, and consequently I believe that any expense would likely be omitted from a campaign return," Mathews says.

RackNine has confirmed someone used its automated dialling service to make the phoney calls. The company insists it did nothing wrong and that it is helping Elections Canada and the police in their investigation.

The Canadian Press called RackNine CEO Matt Meier on Tuesday, but he quickly hung up the telephone.

The phone records also show more than 800 calls to two RackNine numbers between March 26 and May 5. There is nothing prohibiting political candidates from using services like RackNine's for lawful purposes during a campaign.

However, trying to prevent someone from voting is illegal under the Elections Act.

Mathews says nine calls to RackNine from the Ottawa area were traced back to the voice mails of Rebecca Rogers and Chris Ruge or Ruger of the Conservative party.

Three calls to RackNine came from the constituency office of Conservative MP and junior defence minister Julian Fantino.

Five calls to RackNine came from Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative Leader Olive Crane's office.

Twenty-seven calls to RackNine came from Peace River Conservative MP Chris Warkentin.

Five calls to RackNine came from the office of Alberta's opposition Wildrose party.

And nine calls to RackNine came from the Conservative association in the British Columbia riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, which is represented by Conservative MP Dan Albas.

Documents filed with Elections Canada show RackNine did campaign work for a number of Conservative candidates during the last election — including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Harper and fellow Conservatives say there is no proof to back up the allegations of a widespread, dirty-tricks campaign in the last election.

"If the NDP actually has any information, we challenge those members to give that information to the authorities," Harper said in response to a question from New Democrat interim leader Nycole Turmel during question period.

"We have yet to see it and no reason to believe them."

The NDP scoffed at that.

"Who the hell uses a burner cell phone and is not trying to hide something?" NDP MP Pat Martin said.

"If you're trying to tape a recording through an Edmonton company to play in Guelph, Ontario, why the hell do you use a burner cell phone in Montreal? Only dope dealers and Hells Angels and Tony Soprano use burner cell phones."

The Liberals and NDP say voters in dozens of ridings report getting misleading or harassing calls before the May 2 vote.

— With files from the Edmonton bureau of The Canadian Press

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