Stephen Harper can't get a break in Canadian election campaign, but data mining just might keep him in power

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      The Mike Duffy trial, stock-market havoc, and being ridiculed by Margaret Atwood—nothing is going right for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper in this election campaign.

      Every day, he's forced to endure questions from reporters about his chief of staff, Ray Novak. Journalists pepper Harper with demands about whether Novak knew in advance of former chief of staff Nigel Wright's $90,000 payment to Duffy, a Conservative bagman facing 31 criminal charges.

      Yesterday, one of those reporters, CTV's Laurie Graham, was booed by Harper's supporters at a campaign rally.

      It's only a matter of time before Statistics Canada will officially announce that Canada is in a recession. That will result in another round of recrimination for the Conservatives.

      It has some casting their eyes on a post-Harper era in Canadian politics after nearly 10 years of Conservative rule.

      Adding to this sentiment is the fact that two recent prime ministers, Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, left the scene around the 10-year mark.

      However, Harper has an advantage over them. His Conservative party has developed the most sophisticated voter-identification system in Canadian politics.

      Toronto Star journalist Susan Delacourt chronicled how it was developed in her 2013 book, Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them.

      She revealed how the Conservatives created an extensive database on the Canadian electorate.

      "Former Conservative MP Garth Turner had said he was expected to log information about his constituents into the party database," Delacourt reported. "Yet another Conservative, Michael Sona, the staffer accused of involvement in the robocalls controversy of the 2011 election, also publicly acknowledged that it was part of his job in MPs' offices to put citizen information into CIMS [Constituent Information Management System]."

      In Shopping for Votes, Delacourt noted how then-immigration minister Jason Kenney sent a mass email to members of Canada's gay and lesbian community. Their addresses had been culled from a petition sent to his office.

      "Hard questions need to be asked, it seems, about how government information turns into political data," Delacourt wrote in her book.

      Anyone who reads Shopping for Votes will conclude that the Conservatives have compiled reams of information about the electorate through data mining. This enables Conservative campaign workers to pinpoint specific messages at voters about what interests them in ways that Chrétien and Mulroney could never have imagined.

      This is why it's still too early to talk of a post-Harper era, no matter how badly the Conservative leader appears to be faring on nightly newscasts.



      M'kay Ultra

      Aug 24, 2015 at 9:21am

      The data-mining will come in handy when the Cons use their UnFair Elections Act to disqualify students, veterans, homeless and First Nations from voting.
      This is the most corrupt gov't Canada has ever had. Heave Steve!

      Roy O

      Aug 24, 2015 at 11:08am

      Hmm M'kay, you mean anyone who can't come up with any of the following FOURTY EIGHT different types of identification, some as drop-dead simple as a library card?

      Elections Canada ID web page -

      It seems the government is going a long way to assure that people who vote are who they say they are, and I'm good with that.


      Aug 24, 2015 at 3:25pm

      I'm GOOD TO GO in October Anyone But Cons.

      Barry William Teske

      Aug 24, 2015 at 5:33pm

      Your Hard Working Tax Dollars at work Canada.
      Pitting Canadian against Canadian.
      They want you to believe we aren't in this together.
      Confrontational Politics.
      Is that how you want your children to live?


      Aug 24, 2015 at 8:46pm

      I can't imagine any political party sleazy and despicable enough to use fake petitions to generate voter identification lists. It's like the worst of slimy US Rove-esque tactics brought to Canada.

      By the way, what ever happened to all petitions I was asked to sign day after day at the Commercial station last summer and fall go?

      J. Rotten

      Aug 24, 2015 at 11:35pm

      "It's only a matter of time before Statistics Canada will officially announce that Canada is in a recession."

      That's odd. The Honourable Minister of Finance just said that the economy was doing great. I guess he's covered by Canada's freedom of speech laws and can bend the truth.

      Deny, Deny, Deny

      Aug 25, 2015 at 11:34am

      Isn't going to cut it for Steve who will watch his party go for a dive and have no choice but to resign as leader of the pack.


      Aug 25, 2015 at 3:49pm

      Hahaha. They were added to the pile.
      The very, very, very big pile that's going to make everything all right once the politicians see your signature and realize the error of their ways.

      @ @RBM

      Aug 25, 2015 at 4:30pm

      I ran out of fake names ala Bart Simpson's crank phone calls. Gregor's hired hipsters never saw the humor in it. Funny how the faux petitions are suddenly a story now.