Victoria mayoral candidate Stephen Andrew has filed a formal complaint to Elections B.C. and the Office of the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner over an email sent out by the Victoria-Beacon Hill B.C. NDP Constituency Association.
Andrew said the association sent out an email endorsing Mayor Dean Fortin as well as council candidates Marianne Alto, Ben Isitt, Eric Kaye, Jeremy Loveday and Pamela Madoff.
The complaint also addresses two phone calls one of Andrew’s supporters received soliciting support for Fortin and council candidate John Luton. When asked where they got his phone number, the caller said from the NDP, said Kit Spence, Andrew’s campaign manager.
“He had apparently volunteered on an NDP campaign, and they had his number,” said Spence.
“[The NDP] has generated data they have collected in other election campaigns. They’re not, under the Personal Information Protection Act, allowed to collect that data and use it for another purpose.”
While Andrew said he does not believe this will hurt his campaign, he thinks it does give those candidates an unfair advantage.
“If these candidates and their campaigns are willing to bend the rules now, it’s a slippery slope to me,” said Andrew. “Voters should demand that their candidates act in a more upstanding fashion.”
Fortin would not comment on the issue. Loveday said he does not see a problem.
“It’s the same as any organization sending an email to their members letting them know that other members are involved,” he said.
Mayoral candidate Ida Chong, also expressed concern about the NDP’s involvement.
“I don’t like it, because municipal politics should not be partisan politics,” said Chong. “And I guess that’s what I have a problem with; not that I have a problem with people reaching out to their members.”
Chong added that she is not involved with any BC Liberal constituency associations. She is a former Liberal cabinet minister.
“People who work on my campaign are from all different backgrounds,” Chong said.
Chong also discovered there was another list that was circulated being attributed to her office. She said the list alleged that business who use temporary foreign workers are supporting her campaign.
“I am not circulating any list or being part of anything in that regard,” said Chong, adding she fears the list was created as an attack against her.
“I’m happy to be critiqued right back by other candidates and for the ideas I’ve put forward to be strongly tested. What I won’t stand for are these kinds of sneaky, underhanded tactics by folks who don’t have the decency to stand up to public scrutiny.”
According to Elections BC communications coordinator Andrew Watson, registered political parties can obtain the provincial voters list twice per year, but this list does not contain phone numbers or email addresses.
Watson could not provide specific information regarding a provincial political party’s use of lists to solicit support for municipal candidates by press time.
The Office of the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner confirmed they received a complaint from Andrew, but could not elaborate beyond that.