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Paul Dewar fined $7,000 over 2012 leadership campaign robo-calls

NDP MP Paul Dewar asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill Ottawa on Friday, April 26, 2013.


NDP MP Paul Dewar has been slapped with a $7,000 fine for robocalls during his 2012 leadership campaign that failed to properly identify who was behind the communication.

Canada's telecom regulator levied the penalty for violating long-standing rules that require candidates and dialing firms to tell recipients who's calling.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission levied the fine on Mr. Dewar for violating rules covering unsolicited phone calls.

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Mr. Dewar's leadership campaign called New Democratic Party members February 8 and 9 in 2012, trying to gauge their preferred choice for leader of the party, which was seeking a new chief to replace Jack Layton.

"The calls did not specify at the outset that they were being made on behalf of Mr. Dewar's campaign, nor did they include the call originator's mailing address or a call back number," the CRTC said Friday.

"Mr. Dewar cooperated fully with the CRTC's investigation … and committed to establish a compliance program to ensure future adherence to the unsolicited telecommunications rules."

Mr. Dewar took responsibility for the misstepand said it won't happen again.

"During our party's leadership race, mycampaign hired a polling company to conduct a survey on our behalf. Theautomated calls did not identify themselves as coming from my campaign," Mr.Dewar said.

"I have taken steps to ensure that any futureautomated calling by my office or my riding association proactively follows allthe rules and regulations of the CRTC."

In an unrelated case, Strategic Communications has agreed to pay $10,000 for similar violations, the CRTC announced. The firm made robocalls on behalf of the NDP in January 2012 in the riding of St-Maurice-Champlain, Que. The calls did not specify they were being made on behalf of the NDP and did not the proper mailing address and contact telephone number.

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The regulator called on politicians to ensure they don't run afoul of its rules.

"We expect candidates who are running political campaigns, and telemarketing service providers to put appropriate safeguards in place to ensure compliance with the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules," Andrea Rosen, the CRTC's chief compliance and enforcement officer, said.

This is the third time the CRTC has announced fines for out-of-line robo-calls – the first being in 2012.

It's another signal the telecom regulator is serious about clamping down on abuses of this political tool. Most Canadian political parties employ automated diallers to deliver pre-recorded messages to electors.

In May, the telecom regulator launched a sweeping attack on improper automated phone calls by politicians, following a Liberal complaint about anonymous calls to voters in Saskatchewan on behalf of the Harper Conservatives.

The fines of nearly $370,000 were levied against the federal Tories, Alberta's Wildrose Party, the federal NDP, the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, Liberal MP Marc Garneau, Conservative MP Blake Richards and Edmonton "robo-calling" firm RackNine.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More


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