02/20/2013 12:36 EST | Updated 04/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Even the Robocalls Investigation Is Dirty Business

This article originally appeared in the Prince Arthur Herald

New information reveals not even the private contractors hired by Elections Canada to investigate the possible 2011 "robocalls" are neutral, non-partisan individuals.

Information on who the private contractors conducting the "robocalls" investigation are is scarce, but the very fact that Elections Canada has outsourced one of its vitally important responsibilities to private firms is shocking.

It is even more shocking that such responsibility has been delegated to paper companies: private companies with no website, no phone numbers, and no email addresses, which only seem to exist in the eyes of Elections Canada. Google searches bring up nothing more than Elections Canada's listings of contracts (and perhaps the odd LinkedIn profile).

Certainly the least Elections Canada could have done before hiring these private contractors was to ensure they were hiring neutral, non-partisan individuals. Especially with the odd and significant amount of recurring $78,444.35 contracts, Canadians deserve to know that their tax money is being put towards professional, neutral individuals.

But that's not the case according to a search of Elections Canada's contributors' database.

A search of the sole contractor involved in the robocalls investigation with a website -- Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton -- reveals that many members on their board of directors have donated money to the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois -- the same parties which have the most to gain in propagating any sort of "robocall" voter conspiracy myth, ramping up the rhetoric to the extent that some members are now being sued for slander and libel.

In July 2008, Emilio Imbriglio, Chair of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, donated $300 to the Liberals. In January 2009, he donated $1,000 to the Michael Ignatieff leadership campaign.

In February 2010, Eric Bergeron, Assurance Partner, donated $375 to the Liberals.

Marc Bergeron, Vice President of Recovery and Reorganization, donated $287.79 to the Liberals in June 2007 and another $250 in December 2008.

Lynda Coache, Assurance Partner, donated $255 to the Liberals on February 28, 2010.

Martin Deschenes, Assurance Partner, donated $405 to the Liberals on February 28, 2010 and $400 to the Bloc Quebecois on June 8, 2011.

Eric Labelle, Tax Partner, donated $465 to the Liberals on February 28, 2010.

Jocelyn Renald, Vice President Management Committee, donated $300 to the Liberals in December 2008.

It is unclear whether any of these individuals have a direct involvement in the current robocalls investigation, however the firm has been given a $214,700 contract to conduct its investigation. This is the largest robocalls contract I've come across to-date, so at least the company, if not its employees, would be neutral, right?


In 1999, when businesses and unions were allowed to donate to political parties before the days of the Liberal's AdScam and the Conservative Party's Accountability Act to address that Liberal corruption, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton donated $4406.48 to the Liberal Party. And another $1,000 in 2000.

In 1998, Grant Thornton, the apparent head office of RCGT, donated a staggering (and odd) $12,657.18 to the Liberals.

They also audited the 2004 books for the Marijuana Party of Canada, although the party barely received $11,000 in donations (I guess the rest went up in smoke).

During the 37th general election, the company gave $450 for the re-election of Serge Cardin, a then-sitting Member of Parliament for the Bloc Quebecois and a currently sitting Parti Quebecois Member of Provincial Parliament. They also gave $500 to support his opponent, then-Liberal candidate and now city councillor Jean-Francois Rouleau. What better way to make friends with both the sitting Bloc Quebecois MP and his Liberal challenger than to just donate money to them both?

It is startling that Elections Canada did not properly vet the neutrality and worthiness of allowing yet another partisan investigator (after Andre Thouin) onto this investigation. These are not small amounts of money, and throwing thousands of dollars behind a leadership contestant or political party indicates strong, decisive support.

Canadians are well on their way to spending $1 million on this "robocalls" investigation. What has that investigation dug up or accomplished? So far, nothing.

How can Canadians have confidence in any of this investigation when the very investigators have a strong, clear, undeniable political bias?

If this investigation has uncovered anything, it needs to be laid bare immediately. Otherwise, this rank investigation needs to be swiftly thrown out.

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