Monday, April 18, 2011

The Conservatives' New Translator: Mr. Michael Sona



Update: At Bottom of post.
Double Secret Probation Update: Was he or wasn't he there?...Photographs appear to confirm initial eyewitness reports regarding the presence of the good Mr. Sona at the University of Guelph's special ballot session last Wednesday....

Mr. Michael Sona is the communications director for the campaign of Conservative Coalition candidate Marty Burke in Guelph Ontario.

He was also, according to a number of eyewitnesses, present during the controversial confrontation on the University of Guelph campus last week.

The following is a report on that confrontation in the Guelph Mercury published yesterday April 16, 2010:

....Several students and a Liberal scrutineer present at the polling station allege Marty Burke’s director of communication, Michael Sona, attempted Wednesday to grab a ballot box in an effort to stop voting at the U of G polling station.

Sona and the Burke campaign team directed all requests for media comment about this episode to the Conservative Party of Canada national campaign.

In a news release issued Friday morning, the party “vehemently denies that any of its workers or volunteers interfered” at the polling station.

“In particular, the Marty Burke campaign denies that any of its workers or volunteers touched a ballot box or ballot,” read the release. “The outlandish and unfounded claims being spread on the internet are the product of desperation, and are most regrettable.”

Students Brenna Anstett and Claire Whalen both said Sona tried to grab the ballot box. Anstett was “100 per cent” sure it was Sona after she identified him in a group photo provided by the Guelph Mercury.

Sona is a former University of Guelph student and former member of the Guelph Campus Conservatives. He also founded the group’s Facebook page.

Conservative party spokesperson Ryan Sparrow, the official responding to media queries about the case, wouldn’t say if Sona had been on campus in connection with the episode....

Now regardless who 'touched' what, or not, what is it, exactly, that the Conservative Operative Mr. Sona was translating as being 'wrong' in terms of the actions of E(lections) C(anada) or anyone else in Guelph?

Because, based on the following, from the Elections Canada press release on the matter at hand, it would appear that absolutely nothing was.

'Wrong' I mean.

"...While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid..."

So, given all that, is it possible that the Conservative Coalition of Canada and its Operatives were actually looking, not for something that was 'wrong', but rather something else?

Something like the following, also from Elections Canada:

"...In light of the focus on youth and student electoral participation at the 41st general election, and on efforts to increase voter interest and turnout among this group, a well-intentioned returning officer undertook a special initiative to create an opportunity for students at the University of Guelph to vote by special ballot.

Once Elections Canada officials were made aware of the local initiative in Guelph, the returning officer was instructed not to engage in any further activities of a similar nature. All returning officers have received this instruction..."

Does that part in bold, directly above, read like a successful voter suppression strategy to you?


Thanks to the anonymous commentor on a previous thread for pointing me towards the appropriate operative in this matter......
Update, Mon Apr 18th: Saskboy, with the help of Dr. Dawg, goes up the TwitterCon Food Chain.



Dr.Dawg said...

Why hasn't that thug been charged?

From the Canada Elections Act:

281(b) wilfully interfere with, or attempt to interfere with, an elector when marking a ballot or special ballot, or otherwise attempt to obtain any information as to the candidate for whom any elector is about to vote or has voted;

And here, as reinforcement, is s. 281 (g):

wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election;

The case for interfering with electors could well be made out. We should be demanding a police investigation.

Anonymous said...

Dr.Dawg - I whole heartedly agree. A special investigation needed.

Would be wonderful if someone was able to record what happened; but alas cameras wouldn't be allowed at a voting site.

Harper's minions are running a 'third world' dictatorial campaign - limited press, scrutinizing rally attendees, and now attempted ballot box snatching.

BC Mary said...

Seems to me that something's changed. It used to be that -- if anybody was wrongly accused of a criminal activity -- they'd get truly upset and offer explanations etc.

Not any more.

Contempt of Parliament? Phhtttt.
Fraudulent letter praising themselves and "signed" by Sheila Fraser, Auditor-General (NOT). Phtttt.
Costs of F-25 fighter planeskept secret because the planes came without engines? Phhttt.
Snatching ballot boxes from University campus? Phhttt.
etc etc

If the scoundrels don't know about ethics, and get away with pretending there's no such thing as ethics, everything changes. Crookedness becomes normal. Holy Mackeral.

I hope and pray that The Harper Government has made the kids at University of Guelph darn good and angry ...

Alison said...

In response to my post about this new version of voter suppression on Friday, James Bow left the following comment :

"Whether this is a victory for the Conservatives or not depends on how people react. There are good opportunities to turn this event to the students' advantage. It remains legal to walk down to your local Elections Canada office and ask for a special ballot. In the case of many universities, like UW and Wilfred Laurier, said offices are pretty close by. Guelph's office is clear across town, but you can make an event out of this: get students to gather at some prearranged time and "Walk to Vote".

Point out that democracy is worth walking for. Actually, it's worth marching for. Point out that those students' grandparents and great grandparents marched for democracy as well, some of them in much harsher conditions. Now the time has come for them to march as well.

Tell this to your friends. Get the word out."

Pretty good advice.

There is also this petition at Lead Now : Tell Elections Canada: Let Students Vote on Campus

In other news close to our hearts : Vancouver injection clinic saving lives: journal
Lancet study to be published tomorrow says od deaths down 35% since Insite opened.

Gary E said...

Voter suppression? Hardly Ross K. This smacks of deliberate interference of Canada Elections. Supposed to be a Independent Office. Just like Elections BC. Sure.

Anonymous said...

The Speaker found the Conservatives in contempt of Parliament - Why is Elections Canada allowing Conservative names on the ballot?

G West said...

I think student voters ought to simply leapfrog over Mr Sona's inert form....The material from Elections Canada is pretty damn clear:

While the initiative at the University of Guelph was not pre-authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Canada Elections Act provides that electors may apply for and vote by special ballot. A special ballot coordinator, appointed by the local returning officer, oversaw the activities at the University of Guelph. All information at our disposal indicates that the votes were cast in a manner that respects the Canada Elections Act and are valid.

If it worked at Guelph it can work elsewhere. Students who really mean to get involved should he working hard to "apply for and vote by special ballot"

Sona reminds me of a certain spiderman character from Ms Christina's past?
These creeps would be far better off just hiding in the shadows where they belong.

saskboy said...

Since the ballots were collected appropriately according to EC review, there was nothing wrong, and the discontinuation of such special ballot polls for people who will have a difficult time voting on May 2nd, is vote suppression. And yes, Sona should be charged under the election act, and whoever else conspired with him to cause the disruption.

Since the CPC campaign chair is lying about Sona's involvement in the party, this investigation could turn up some surprising slime under the CPC rock.

saskboy said...

I've added the link to this from my blog article on CPC and Sona.

saskboy said...

And more information I've dug out of the Act suggest that anywhere special ballots are being marked, a crime can be committed by trying to prevent people from voting.
"166. no person shall
# (c) in a polling station or in any place where voting at an election is taking place, influence electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate."

cfvua said...

Exactly. Every university needs a group to apply for a special ballot now that returning officers have been intructed " not to engage". Might end up being the one thing that gets the kids fired up. And yes it does seem all too familiar in BC where meddling with Elections BC has become habitual for the liberals.

Anonymous said...

On another note. Looks like at this point in the campaign the only major national party running against the Reformcons are the Liberals, since Jack is running only against the Liberals. Conservative supporters all over the comments section of major news sites are acting as if Layton is their new found messiah. No talk of the socialists or the evil coalition anymore. Cons have now realized that this is the way to a majority gov but what is the NDP thinking? a few more seats(or not) at the expense of handing over absolute power to Harper by vote splitting!!

Anonymous said...

No wonder the cons were acting so desperate in Guelph. The campus votes according to people on the ground went overwhelmingly to the Liberals. In fact many students are now actively campaigning for the Liberal incumbent Frank Valeriote. The thing that the cons are most worried about is that the surge in student and young voters might translate into a con loss in neighbouring ridings which they won with very small margins last time around like Kitchener Waterloo(17 votes) with a major University and Kitchener Centre(350 odd votes). Also, the seats they are hoping to pick up in the 905 region that are over 50% white suburban hence naturally Con such as Brampton Springdale and Ajax Pickering are despite their best efforts(i.e everything thrown at Ruby Dhalla and Mark Holland) still too close to call and any new hostile voting block that was not a factor last time around is bad news for the Cons.