Former US President Richard Nixon was able to keep 18 ½ potentially incriminating minutes of White House audio tapes under wraps, allowing him to avoid being personally connected to the dirty tricks used against his political opponents in what became known as the Watergate scandal.
In the age of Wikileaks, it has been much more difficult for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to keep his distance from Roboscam, a centrally-coordinated vote-suppression telephone campaign targeting certain key ridings that the Conservatives needed to win to obtain a majority government in the May 2, 2011 Canadian Federal Election. Digital recordings, unlike analog tapes, can be easily copied, downloaded and emailed. What follows is a partial transcript of an April 29, 2011 PMO conference call. The recordings were obtained by anonymous hacktivists and provided for transcription and publication.
PMO Conference Call Recording from April 29, 2011
Transcribed by David Bernans
D. Soudas: We’ve got everyone on the line Mr. Prime Minister.
S. Harper: Thanks Dimitry. Now, you all know why we’re having this meeting. There are just three days before the polls open, and there’s only one thing standing between us and a majority government.
J. Oliver: Right. Radical ecologist groups financed by billionaire socialists.
S. Harper: No Joe. They’re certainly a nuisance, but it’s not them. It’s-
J. Baird: The Palestinians!
S. Harper: No John. The Palestinians don’t have much influence in Canadian electoral politics. You’ve been spending a lot of time with Avigdor and Benjamin, haven’t you?
L. Raitt: Organized labour!
S. Harper: Good Lisa. You’re getting warmer. But the problem is actually bigger than that. What’s standing between us and a majority government is voter participation. We’ve got to get more average voters to stay home on polling day. That way, our ideologically-motivated conservative base will be able to swing enough ridings our way to give us a majority.
D. Soudas: As you all know, we’ve been working on a communication strategy to address that problem. Studies show negative advertising helps reduce voter participation and we’ve been slinging as much mud as we can between and during elections, like those warnings about a socialist-separatist coalition. We’ve even used a little creative in-and-out accounting to skirt election spending limits. Elections Canada fascists didn’t like it, but it’s helped bring down participation.
S. Harper: But not enough. Sixty percent of Canadians are still voting. Our hardcore support is maybe about one quarter of voters at large. That number is not going to change in the short-term. Somehow, we’ve got to win a majority with only twenty-five percent support from the general population. With forty percent of voters staying home, that means on polling day we’ll be able to leverage our base to maybe thirty-nine or forty percent max. That’s pretty tight. It’ll be hard to form a majority with those numbers.
T. Clement: I’m not following you, Stephen. Too many numbers. You sound like those egg-heads at Stats Can.
S. Harper: To put it in layman’s terms Tony, we need to get more voters to stay home. Or, more accurately, we need to get more voters to stay home in maybe eighteen to twenty-seven key ridings. That ought to be enough to win a majority. If we win enough skirmishes, we can win the war.
P. Mackay: Maybe we could ask our NATO allies to call-in a few well-placed drone attacks.
S. Harper: Actually Pete, you’re not too far off the mark. We’ll be using the electoral equivalent of unmanned drones – robocalls. Imagine what would happen if Liberal voters in key ridings get automated calls from Elections Canada on polling day telling them that their poll has been moved to a new, inconvenient location?
B. Oda: How do we get Elections Canada to make those calls? Hey, I’ve got an idea; maybe we can insert the word “not” beside some of the polling stations on their list.
S. Harper: Elections Canada won’t be making the calls. A black-ops specialist from our team will have the robocalls made in the name of Elections Canada.
J. Flaherty: Pretty clever Stephen. But how will we know which numbers to call? We don’t want to send our own voters to the wrong polls.
V. Toews: Well Jim, my connections in the security industry have got us some intelligence in the form of Liberal Party voters’ phone lists.
J. Flaherty: What? How did you get those? They wouldn’t just hand them over.
V. Toews: When Conservative lives and property are at stake, I think a little torture is justified, don’t you?
S. Harper: And those lists Vic has brought us are already coming in handy for another line of attack.
P. Mackay: Unmanned drone attacks will only take us so far.
S. Harper: That’s right Pete. We’ve got to have some boots on the ground for a decent voter-suppression campaign. But we’re talking black-ops here, so our guys are operating under the radar.
P. Mackay: Special forces.
S. Harper: Exactly. We’ve got a call centre. That’s a big budget operation, but we’re managing it with secret money. Only trusted operatives are making live calls, with blocked caller IDs of course. Theirs is a false flag mission.
P. Mackay: Fake Liberals? Oh yeah, Steve. Priceless.
S. Harper: I thought you’d appreciate the strategy. They’re calling Liberal voters repeatedly late at night and early in the morning, claiming to be speaking on behalf of the local Liberal candidate.
J. Kenney: Oh, oh. Make them do some strange foreign accents. People hate that. Can’t understand what their saying.
S. Harper: Excellent idea Jason. Can you see to that Dimitry? Make sure our operatives get some voice coaching.
D. Soudas: Yes Mr. Prime Minister. I’ll get on that right away!
Transcriber’s note: This is where the voice recording ends. The anonymous hacktivists who provided the recording say they have deleted the remaining portion of the conference call to protect the privacy of certain enemies of the Conservative conspiracy who were mentioned by name.
A note about the transcriber: David Bernans is an author and translator based in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Québec. Actually, this whole “transcription” is (hopefully) fictional political humour authored by David Bernans. Follow him @dbernans on twitter.