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Harper makes no apologies for robocalls

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making no apologies for his party's use of deceptive robocalls to rally public opinion against proposed changes to riding boundaries in Saskatchewan.

Harper insisted Wednesday there was nothing wrong with the automated calls last week, which warned listeners that the changes would "destroy Saskatchewan values" and pit rural folk against urban dwellers, all without identifying that the caller was the Conservative party.

What's more, he said the party's message simply echoed the majority view in Saskatchewan, where 75 per cent who submitted opinions to the independent boundary commission were opposed to the proposed changes.

"The party followed the rules and our position to the public is very clear on the commission," Harper said.

But the head of the boundary commission said he doesn't know where that 75 per cent number is coming from.

Justice Ron Mills said he assumes Harper is quoting a minority report from one of the three commission members who is against the proposed changes. But Mills said it isn't even clear if that report includes pre-proposal submissions, which he said were "overwhelmingly in favour of urban only."

Mills said the commission didn't do that math and the numbers are irrelevant to its task.

"Some people said at the (public) hearings, 'Hi, I'm here because I want my MP elected. I don't want you to change the boundaries' and that's good for them, but it's not a consideration that we would count," Mills said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"When you start looking at numbers...it's a mug's game.

"I mean, if you add up just people who sent in, you get one version. If you start eliminating what were clearly submissions based on irrelevant considerations, well, of course you get a different number. I have no idea what the 75 per cent number is, that's not a number the commission generated."

The Canadian Press


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