Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Preston Manning Calls for More Ethics Training in Wake of Robocall Affair: Manning Wants Ethics Upgrade after Robocalls

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Preston Manning Calls for More Ethics Training in Wake of Robocall Affair: Manning Wants Ethics Upgrade after Robocalls

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - The patriarch of the modern-day conservative movement in Canada is calling for better ethical training for campaign workers in the wake of the robocall scandal.

But one-time Reform party leader Preston Manning also cautions against pointing the finger for the scandal at the Tories, saying the problem is much broader.

Manning condemned the idea of campaigns using robocalls to harass voters or divert them to the wrong polls.

"I've spent my life trying to get people to participate more in the political system and trying to vote more," he said on the sidelines of a conservative conference sponsored by his Centre for Democracy.

"And the fact that there would be people out trying to work in the opposite direction is deplorable."

Elections Canada is investigating instances of voters being directed to non-existent polls in the riding of Guelph, Ont. A Conservative party worker connected to the campaign there has since resigned.

The election agency has received 31,000 calls, faxes and emails from Canadians reporting other suspected instances of interference with the voting process. The opposition blames the Conservatives.

"If you try to link these things to any one party, it's a mistake," Manning said.

"If you just target the solutions at one party ... this is far broader than one party."

He said all parties should be worried.

"The public hardly even distinguish between them. When these things are done, it just discredits them."

Manning said part of the problem lies in the fact that young Canadians are sent to political training schools in the United States where politics is far more aggressive.

Preventing those tactics from taking over the Canadian political process requires a new approach, he said.

Stricter oversight of campaigns by their managers and by Elections Canada, could be one solution, he said.

"I actually think the more effective thing is preventing it in the first place and that involves ethical training," he said. …

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