Leitch campaign paid for services of firm under investigation
A "full service marketing research agency" alleged to be involved in
voter suppression activities during the last federal election, was paid
$21,315 by Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch according to her electoral
financial report filed with Elections Canada.
Campaign Research, and its principal partner, Nick Kouvalis are
currently under investigation by the Marketing Research and
Intelligence Association, for their role in an alleged "misinformation
campaign" against Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, where people in his Quebec
riding were being phoned and told he was resigning.
Mr. Kouvalis' firm is also accused of being part of a systematic
campaign to mislead voters in dozens of ridings with phone calls that
either directed people to the wrong polling station, or had
misrepresented themselves as volunteers of a particular candidate.
None of the allegations have been proven, and Ms. Leitch denies
Campaign Research performed any service other than "to help (...)
connect with her constituents."
"Both before, during and since the election, I've always taken the high
road," she said in an emailed statement. " I think the facts with
respect to myself, speak for themselves. I've been very clear with
respect to taking responsibility with respect to my campaign. At no
time have I, or my campaign, participated in these kind of measures."
Simcoe-Grey is one of several ridings where people complained about
phone calls they received during the election purporting to be on
behalf of then Liberal candidate Alex Smardenka.
At the time, the incidents in Simcoe-Grey made national news as part of
similar complaints in other ridings, that were being traced to North
This morning, the Simcoe Grey Liberal Riding Association released the
details of complaints they logged and that have been submitted as part
of the broader investigation. They are as follows:
In the afternoon of April 14th, 2011 a Liberal volunteer (Greg Walker)
came into the Collingwood Campaign office and told us of complaints he
had received from some constituents. Later that day a constituent
called into the Collingwood office to complain about a phone call he
had received the night before. The complaints centered around rude and
disturbing phone calls that the constituents received in later evening
of April 13, 2011.The complaints were all the same:
People were receiving phone calls after 8pm.
The callers identified themselves as calling on behalf of
Liberal Candidate Alex Smardenka.
Background noise from the callers side was loud and it
sounded like many people talking and asking the same questions that
were being asked by the caller himself (possibly a call centre.)
The caller was rude and short when speaking to the
When the caller asked one constituent if they knew who the
constituent was voting for and the constituent answered that they had
not made up their mind, the caller chastised the constituent and asked
"what their problem was?" and expressed disbelief that they could
not know who they were voting for yet.
Due to the date and time of the calls I knew that they did
not come from the campaign's volunteers.
I called the Liberal central campaign to make sure that the
calls were not coming from the Liberal Party and was assured that the
LPC did not make any calls into the riding of Simcoe-Grey during the
date and time that the complainants had received their calls.
I then immediately contacted Derek Houlbrook from Prime
Contact (the third party voter ID company contracted by the Alex
Smardenka campaign) and was assured that the calls did not come from
their company. This made sense as service was suspended as the
campaign and Prime Contact were working out some technical issues that
had arisen on April 12th.
LPC sent me an email asking me to get into contact with
Dave Seglin of the CBC as they were working on a story of similar calls
being received by the Volpe campaign in Eglinton-Lawrence which I did
and related the information as stated above.
Elections Canada was contacted and we were informed that
the complainants themselves had to lodge a formal complaint.
None of the complainants went on record and, in the case of
the person who called in, wouldn't provide the campaign with their name
or any other personal information."
Elections Canada is currently investigating the campaign in Guelph
where automated, or "robocalls" were directing voters to the wrong
polling stations. The Conservative candidate Marty Burke, paid Campaign
Research $6,215, and RMG, another firm accused of suppression