Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on February 29th, 2012.
I have always believed strongly in the principles of transparency and accountability. Recently in media stories related to allegations of the “robo-call” issue it was reported that nine calls originated from the Okanagan-Coquihalla campaign, my campaign, to Rack9 Media located in Edmonton. More recently it has been pointed out by some media stories that Rack9 Media is not directly listed as a supplier in the Okanagan-Coquihalla Statement of Electoral Campaign Expenses (Part 3a). In my view this raises a number of important questions that I believe are deserving of answers.
Although I have visited the Elections Canada website for further information in this matter there are no updates currently posted online. It would seem at this point, that whatever actions Elections Canada are undertaking are being coordinated through the media and not being reported online at the Elections Canada website. Regrettably this does not provide answers to the questions that some citizens within my riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla have been asking. I believe this is an important issue however it has also become a very political one and it is increasingly difficult to separate what is factually accurate versus what is a baseless allegation.
In my own case, contrary to what some media sources have reported, during my campaign we did use the services of Rack 9 media. Having said that, we did not contract Rack 9 media to conduct “robo-calls” nor did we engage in any practice that would attempt to misinform voters regarding the location of a polling station. This type of behaviour cannot be tolerated and any individual(s) found to be responsible for such actions should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The service that we did receive from Rack9 media during the campaign was to provide a live Telephone Town Hall service. This live telephone town hall provided a unique opportunity to connect with thousands of citizens throughout Okanagan-Coquihalla and I felt it was a very productive exercise.
This cost of this service was $4,683.65 and volunteers within my campaign team did make multiple calls to Rack9 media to both coordinate this service and also to request the bill towards the end of the campaign. The invoice was paid and then submitted to Elections Canada as part of our Statement of Electoral Campaign Expenses and should be a public record. Unfortunately, as some members of the media have correctly reported, Rack 9 media is not directly listed as a supplier on the Part 3a disclosure at the present time. The reasons for this required further investigation on my part. When viewing the online reports for Okanagan-Coquihalla on the Elections Canada website there is a reference on May 02 that states “see attached” in the amount of $33,563.03. This document includes a list of expenses that have not yet been posted in an individually itemized format. On this list, journal entry #12 clearly does state “RacNine Inc – Telephone Town Hall Meeting” in the amount of $ 4,683.65. I fully expect at some point in the near future this information will be individually itemized so that these types of expenses are transparent and in the public domain where they rightfully belong. As taxpayers you deserve timely information and full disclosure from your elected officials and I welcome any further comments or questions you have in this or any other area.
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