02/05/2013 05:00 EST | Updated 02/05/2013 09:45 EST

Tories Admit Saskatchewan Robocalls Came From Them After All


The Conservatives have admitted they were behind those robocalls in Saskatchewan last week after all.

Frank DeLorey, the Tories' director of communications, said there was an "internal miscommunication" regarding the calls and that they should have been clearly identified as coming from the party.

"The calls should have been identified as coming from the Conservative party," Fred DeLorey said in a statement.

DeLorey denied the party was polling on the issue because "we already know where people stand." Three-quarters of those who participated in the boundary commission hearings were opposed to the changes, he said.

"But we are doing a host of things to communicate with voters and get their feedback," DeLorey said in the statement.

Delorey had denied the Conservatives had anything to do with the calls when contacted by the Ottawa Citizen last week.

The calls presented a poll that was clearly critical of changes to the province's federal ridings, which are likely to reduce the number of seats the Tories hold there.

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Twitter On Sask. Robocalls

The company making the calls used the name Chase Research and asked a leading question that essentially suggested redistribution would destroy Saskatchewan and pit rural against urban: "Press one if you agree, press two if you don't agree."

A forensic voice-analysis expert hired by PostMedia has linked Chase Research to RackNine, the company involved in the "Pierre Poutine" robocalls. PostMedia reports that the voice used in Chase Research's outgoing voicemail message matches that of Matt Meier, the owner of RackNine Inc.

Writing in a blog post for The Huffington Post Canada last week, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, the only non-Tory MP from Saskatchewan, argued that the Conservatives are preparing to "gerrymander" in order to protect their supremacy in the province.

Goodale has also filed a complaint with the CRTC, PostMedia reports.

As Aaron Wherry of Maclean's has pointed out, the results from Saskatchewan in the last election make a strong argument for some sort of electoral change there.

As I noted shortly after the last election, the popular vote result in Saskatchewan is a glaring example of first-past-the-post failing to reflect the province-wide will of voters. Here again are those numbers from the 2011 election.

Conservatives 256,004 votes (13 seats)

NDP 147,084 votes (0 seats)

Liberals 38,981 votes (1 seat)

The changes to the province's electoral boundaries are likely to change that distribution of seats in Saskatchewan to 11 seats for the Conservatives, two for the NDP and one for the Liberals, according to Wherry.

Proposed changes tabled in a report to the House of Commons last week would see the creation of urban-only ridings in Regina and Saskatoon. Currently, the ridings in the province's two largest cities are shaped like slices of pie, pulling in corners of the cities and larger surrounding rural areas.

Riding redistribution takes place as populations shift; the changes are proposed by a non-partisan panel after public consultation.

With files from The Canadian Press

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