Robocalling for harassment is a crime

April 30, 2012

On December 3, 2011, thousands of people in Fort McMurray received an automated phone call that showed on call display as coming from the private unlisted home phone number of Peter Goldring, Member of Parliament for Edmonton East. In the 90 minute period before Mr. Goldring departed to his function some 80 people returned the call, complaining they couldn’t understand the muffled automated message they heard and asking why they had been called. The calls continued for days.

Mr. Goldring, preparing for an important function, was distracted by these sometimes angry callers, calling about something he knew nothing about. These “robocalls” were obviously the work of political opponents, intending to harass him. Most people seeing an unfamiliar number on call display or hearing a muffled automated message wouldn’t bother returning a long-distance call from someone they didn’t know. If the 150 returned calls represent five per cent of the total (a high estimate), then 3,000 fraudulent calls were made. It could easily have been more than 10,000.

Mr. Goldring reported the harassment to police, who are continuing their investigation into the crime

“This sort of personal attack has no place in Canadian politics,” Mr. Goldring says. “It’s not merely unethical, it is also criminal.

The Criminal Code of Canada includes provisions for up to six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of making repeated harassing telephone calls.

“There’s no doubt in my mind the intent was to harass me,” Mr. Goldring states. “Whoever was behind this must have known that many people would return the call, especially since the robocall message was deliberately unintelligible.”

We need to work together across all party lines to track down these criminals. These calls were not “dirty tricks” but serious business.

What do you think?