Anyway you slice it, the testimony of Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, before the House and Procedural Affairs Committee on 29 March was bombshell stuff.
Overshadowed to some degree by the detail deficient and ideological platitude spouting of Jim Flaherty, what Mayrand had to say carries a level of importance that shouldn't be lost in loudness of a so-called budget from the Harper rodentia. (There will be some comment on that later).
I've already covered, by simply allowing Kady O'Malley to do the heavy lifting, the most serious revelation: the enormous scope of the election fraud which occurred in May 2011. (Keep that link on a separate tab if you want to follow).
It wasn't one riding; it wasn't 23 ridings; it wasn't 37 ridings. It wasn't even the "possible" 100 ridings which many observers (including myself) believed might have been at issue. That latter number would have put us in massive "hijacked" territory and the subverting of one-third of the electoral districts in Canada. It was 200 ridings - two-thirds of the federal electoral districts.
The next thing that jumped out was the geographic breadth. If the whole effort had been perpetrated in a cluster of ridings in one province it could be attributed to the efforts of one person or perhaps one small group. However, Mayrand made clear just how wide it was: Ten provinces and one territory. The material breadth of the act was nationwide.
The timing and the modus operandi is also important. In almost every case we know of so far, people receiving calls on the day before or the day of the election had been contacted by some element promoting the Conservative Party of Canada. The next call directed them to bogus voting places.
The scope and the timing are more than a little significant. They're huge.
Perhaps it's decades of military training and my experience as a front-line "death technician" that routes my thinking, but I cannot think of any way to pull off a geographically massive, narrowly timed operation without at least four things in place: planning, coordination, deception and delegation1. In a criminal enterprise it is described with one word: conspiracy.
So, now we come to the evidence of an attempted spin from the likes of Harold Albrecht and Tom Lukiwski. Both of them, after hearing the breadth and scope of complaints being investigated by Mayrand's office suggested that they were not trying to minimize the the importance of the complaints nor the numbers being discussed. (11:53 and 11:55 of Kady's report).
Yes, they were.
The fact that they actually suggested they weren't attempting to do so meant that the questions they were posing would be viewed as an attempt to minimize and then they went on to ask them anyway. Clearly, they were shocked by what they had just heard.
All the signs point to a planned, coordinated and specifically-timed national effort to suppress the opposition vote using illegal means. And to add to the elements required to pull off something as large as this appears to be, the direction of such an effort has to come from well up in the hierarchy of a group. In a disciplined, authoritarian-led organization, independent action over a wide scale usually fails.
1 For those so inclined: You can draw some interesting parallels by reading this. I would draw your attention to page 110. The belief that nobody would violate the seeming reverence of an idea, held to be universally sacred, has tripped up more than one strategist.