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Mandel calls on RCMP, Elections Commissioner to take action following robocalls

Last Updated Apr 14, 2019 at 4:58 pm MDT

Bob Wispinski, an Alberta Party supporter, says he received a fraudulent robocall from someone claiming to be Stehpen Mandel. The voice on the other end urged the Wispinski to vote UCP. (PHOTO: Carly Robinson, CityNews)

Bob Wispinski received a robocall claiming to be from Stephen Mandel which urged him to vote UCP

Mandel says calls are fraudulent, calls on RCMP, commissioner to intervene immediately

UCP says the calls are not from its party, says the calls align with Notley, NDP narrative

EDMONTON – The leader of the Alberta Party is calling on the RCMP and the Elections Integrity Commissioner to intervene immediately in what he is calling “fraudulent election activities”.

Stephen Mandel says an Ardrossan man and Alberta Party supporter received a robocall. The voice on the other end introduced itself as Mandel and instructed the listener to “make a strategic vote for the UCP” as a way to prevent the NDP from being re-elected.

“It started saying, ‘Hi, this is Stephen Mandel of the Alberta Party. We’re having an election on Tuesday and if you believe in Alberta, Jason Kenney has all the answers–he’s going to get the pipeline built, he’s going to do everything he says he’s going to do,'” explains Bob Wispinski, the man who received the call.

“It goes on for about a minute and a half and then it ends by saying, ‘I am Stephen Mandel and I support Jason Kenney of the UCP.'”

Wispinski says the number the call came from is a local number and when he called it back the person that picked up had no idea about what Wispinski was talking about.

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“I thought, ‘This is wrong,'” he said. “I was waiting for a different ending [to the call]. I was quite surprised by it.” The person on the other end of the call even sounded like Mandel’s voice, according to Wispinski.

He then reached out to the Alberta Party to find out if the call was real or not. When asked if the call could’ve been the Stephen Harper one making the rounds in support of the UCP, Wispinski was adamant that the call said “Stephen Mandel”.

Mandel says this call did not come from him or anyone in his party and that it is fraudulent. He now wants the RCMP to investigate and for the commissioner to look into the false advertising.

“How many other people have been misled?” reads a statement from Mandel. “How many votes have we already lost? With the polls opening in less than 48 hours we call on the RCMP & Elections Integrity Commissioner to take immediate action before any further damage to our campaign is done.”

READ MORE: #ABVotes2019: Where do I go to vote?

Mandel says the party has no idea how many people may have got these fake calls but he wants to know who is behind the calls. He promises the party will pursue every legal option to find who created the fraudulent calls and to make sure that person or people are punished accordingly.

He says if anyone else has received a call like this one, they should inform the Alberta Party or reach out to the RCMP.

UCP points finger at NDP for robocalls, NDP has ‘no knowledge’ of calls

CityNews reached out to the UCP for comment and the party was quick to pin the calls on the New Democrats.

“While we have not heard the alleged call in question – this morning is the first we’re hearing about it – it does appear to align with a narrative the NDP is pushing…It sounds like an underhanded tactic to turn potential Alberta Party supporters away from the Alberta Party and towards the NDP,” reads an email from a UCP spokesperson who did not identify themselves.

“It’s quite apparent that it’s the NDP and their allies who are concerned about the Alberta Party sapping left-of-centre votes.”

The statement from the UCP also says all its calls very clearly say they are coming from the UCP “as per Elections Alberta and/or CRTC requirements.” The spokesperson also says the party fully expects the call and the phone number it came from to be reported and investigated appropriately.

Meantime, the NDP says it can’t comment much since the party isn’t familiar with the robocall.

“I honestly know nothing about this–I’ve only heard the rumours on it,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley. “Obviously this shouldn’t happen and I hope people will use due diligence on this.”

-with files from Carly Robinson, Jenna Hamilton