Strange doings this weekend in Saaninch-Gulf Islands tonight. The 11 pm Global Vancouver news reports that people in Saanich-Gulf Islands have been getting automated phone calls urging them to vote for NDP candidate Julian West.
The thing is, West isn't running. His name is still on the ballot, but he dropped out of the race after news re-emerged about him exposing himself to a group of teenage girls 12 years ago. The NDP isn't campaigning in the riding. Both West, and the NDP, say they're not responsible for the calls.
According to Global, Caller ID and *69 indicates the calls are coming from a number belonging to the local NDP riding president. But the NDP riding president says he has nothing to do with the calls.
In this riding, the progressive vote has been uniting behind Liberal candidate Briony Penn, who has been picking-up NDP votes (with West out of the race) and is poised to defeat Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn. Both Lunn and Penn claim to have to knowledge of the calls.
Local police are said to be investigating the calls. I can only wonder who would benefit from ensuring the NDP vote doesn't go Liberal in this riding?
UPDATE: The Times Colonist now has a piece online:
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A number of residents in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding received recorded telephone messages Monday, urging them to vote for NDP candidate Julian West - who left the race after controversy over a public-nudity incident 12 years ago.
Irene Wright, executive member of the NDP's federal riding association for Saanich-Gulf Islands, said Monday night night people started phoning her around 5 p.m. to say they had received an automated call encouraging them to vote for West in Tuesday's election.
A woman's voice in the recording said the call was endorsed by Bill Graham, president of the NDP Saanich-Gulf Islands riding association, and from the "Progressive Voters Association of Saanich-Gulf Islands."
By using caller identification information, the call's origin appeared to be the fax number at Graham's address.
"It's not coming from our fax machine," said Graham. "Somebody is fraudulently using our name and our fax number to send out a misleading message."
Graham said he has checked with the federal and provincial NDP campaign offices, who told him that they have not contracted any automated calls to be put out in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.
A vote for West would be considered a spoiled ballot.
It is possible to "spoof" phone networks into displaying false caller ID numbers using a number of methods, including computers and other external hardware.
Complaints have been filed with Saanich police, the RCMP and Elections Canada.
A Telus spokesperson did not return calls for comment last night.