Police called in regarding suspected voter suppression in PC leadership race

The following was received by “unambiguously ethnic” (as PH puts) PC Party of Ontario members in a Toronto area riding. It reeks of voter suppression. (h/t Perez)

Frank Klees’ campaign has focused upon signing up new Canadians and bringing increased diversity to the PC Party of Ontario. His campaign believes that his campaign was the target of this “dirty trick” type of politicking.

I’ve received the following letter from a source close to the Klees campaign. The letter is from party president Ken Zeise. It informs the Klees campaign that the police are now investigating the matter.

Klees campaign responds to Hudak

I just got off the phone with a senior member of Frank Klees’ campaign regarding the letter from Tim Hudak’s co-chair Blair McCreadie. To say the least, Klees’ people are furious.

It was explained to me that two weeks ago, the Klees campaign conducted a voter ID poll and they argue that this was completely legal. All questions asked, they argue, were in the public domain. Questions were asked regarding the “faltering” Hudak campaign and second ballot support. It was argued that because the characterization of the campaign had been reported in mainstream media and on the blogs that this was a public perception poll and that questions were asked legitimately.

The main complaint from the Klees campaign is that the Hudak campaign strategically held their complaint until the day of the TVO debate, a forum where candidates could truly interact and go back and forth. Steve Paikin was the host of the debate. Klees’ campaign complains that the Hudak campaign made their complaint on this day in an attempt to de-legitimize their campaign. They suggest that the post-debate scrum of Klees regarding the “push poll” was evidence to this.

The Klees campaign characterizes the McCreadie letter as “arrogant”, “pious” a “smear” and “not true”. The Klees campaign argued that while McCreadie and the Hudak campaign initiated the complaint, McCreadie himself was 45 minutes late to the three hour meeting to decide the complaint, which he ultimately lost. Further, the Klees campaign accuses the Hudak campaign of salting the earth, “what is this, winning at all costs?” Further, it was explained that all candidates want party unity and that it is “arrogant” for the Hudak campaign to think that only they hold that card.

Ouch.

I imagine that this is not the final barrage; we’ll be here all day, folks. But let’s try to work on this “unity” thing sooner rather than later, k?

Hudak campaign responds regarding push poll

Blair McCreadie, the co-chair of the Tim Hudak campaign wrote me a letter to clarify what’s been going on from their campaign’s perspective with respect to the push poll they allege the Klees campaign conducted. Here is Blair’s letter:

Here is the Klees release:

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has completed an internal hearing by the Rules and Appeals committee, with all PC leadership campaigns invited, concerning the complaint raised by the Tim Hudak Campaign against the Frank Klees Campaign.

The Party has concluded the following: “Upon hearing the submissions and evidence of the Tim Hudak Campaign and the Frank Klees Campaign, the Board determined the complaint was without merit.”

“The Hudak Campaign broke their much-touted 11th Commandment by falsely accusing the Klees Campaign of breaking campaign rules,” explained John Capobianco, Klees Campaign Chair. “I am pleased that the PC Party of Ontario, in its deliberations, came to the right decision – that the complaint launch by the Tim Hudak Campaign was without merit.”

To read the decision in full, click here: http://ontariopc.com/~/media/7C856423D85B4397A711FE522826B594.ashx

Regarding that push poll…

…received by members of the Ontario PC Party, it specifically targeted candidate Tim Hudak and the Hudak campaign accuses the Klees campaign for conducting it. Here is the content of the push poll (courtesy of PerezHudak.com):

  1. What is the main issue that you will vote on in this leadership race?
  2. Who will be your first choice for party leader?
  3. Who will be your second choice?
  4. Tim Hudak said he was the frontrunner, promising an easy win in the shortest leadership race ever, but his campaign has faltered. Why do you think this happened?
  5. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because he promised to sell the most memberships, but came in third place?
  6. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign faltered because of his adoption of a divisive policy on Human Rights Commissions?
  7. Do you agree or disagree that Tim Hudak’s campaign has faltered because it is relying on the support of Mike Harris, who may be liked by party members but who will hurt our party in the general election?
  8. Keeping in mind the Hudak campaign’s poor performance, are you now more or less likely to change your second ballot support?

The Hudak campaign made the following submission to the rules committee of the PC Party:

And the PC Party responded by saying that the complaint is without merit:

I received the call from “Dominion Research” and remember noting the call came from “416-000-0000”. Whoever was behind the call, they may have broken the rules of the leadership race and by doing so they unfairly smeared Tim Hudak. Yet, if this complaint is without merit as the party stated, the Hudak campaign may have broken their own 11th commandment by unloading this scandal entirely on the Klees campaign so close to the leadership vote. Has the Hudak campaign done their homework or is the party right to dismiss their claims?

UPDATE: Hudak campaign responds

Second interview with Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak is running to become leader of the Ontario PC Party. I had the opportunity to sit down (in Ottawa) and chat with Tim (at Queen’s Park) and talk about policy and politics.

In this interview I ask about the Harris endorsement, the membership snafu, Tim’s position on the HRCs and the LCBO and how he’ll continue building the party should he become the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

Hudak and Elliott campaigns protest party decision on London debate

I received news this evening that the PC Party had moved to prohibit recording devices from a leaders debate to occur today in London. I’ve verified with a reporter covering the race that this indeed was the case. The Elliott and Hudak campaigns were quick to protest the decision. Here are their emails (forwarded to me by the respective campaigns).

The Elliott campaign,

and the Hudak campaign,

Finally, I’ve heard that the party will go ahead and allow reporters to use recording devices during the debate.

UPDATE: This is confirmed. Here is the media advisory from the party.

Hudak memberships in question?

The story broke on PerezHudak.com earlier today. It is rumoured that the Hudak campaign filed a number of their membership 1.5 hours late of the deadline.

I’m hearing that the Tim Hudak campaign has failed to meet a deadline for submitting some of their paperwork, and as a result many of their memberships may be in jeopardy:

As you probably know the deadline to submit actual membership forms with signatures was today for the leadership campaigns – an electronic list was submitted last thursday to the party by campaigns.

Apparently Team Hudak submitted their forms 1.5 hrs late today and could result in all their sales being disqualified.

Rumour is that the Christine Elliott campaign is pushing to have these members struck from the list of eligible voters for the leadership election. The Leadership Election Committee is meeting tonight to consider the matter.

I’ve learned that about 5,000 memberships may be in questions. This was confirmed to me by sources close to both the Elliott and Klees campaigns.

Yet, where the story differs, and where it may have instead developed, is in the Elliott campaign reaction. I received this from the Elliott campaign addressed to the Party.

This is either a sportsmanlike gesture from the Elliott campaign or an attempt to bring more attention to the issue and flesh it out within the news cycle.

UPDATE: I’ve heard that Elliott’s campaign lobbied the Leadership Election Committee all day to toss the Hudak memberships, but when they received a “definitive no”, that’s when the strategy changed to put out a statement supporting the memberships in question.

UPDATE: I’ve received formal communication from the Hudak campaign explaining what went wrong,

Ontario PC Party leadership race fundraising numbers

Christine Elliott is the money leader so far in this leadership race rounding out the pack of four leadership contenders. Membership sales closed days ago and the campaign enters its persuasion phase.

Candidate Christine Elliott Frank Klees Tim Hudak Randy Hillier
Total raised $315,100 $62,517 $153,940 $91,809
Average donation $2046.10 $2604.88 $1241.45 $1311.56
Median donation $500 $740 $500 $142.50
Donations 154 24 124 70

A few observations are noteworthy. The Hudak campaign had claimed at membership cut off time that donations would surpass $200,000. Since we are about 5 days past the close of membership sales and noting that donations must be declared within 10 days, the campaign may have indeed raised $200k by the membership cutoff date. Despite this, the Elliott campaign more than doubles the Hudak campaign in fundraising contributions. Frank Klees, who is the perceived front-runner in membership sales checks in with a disappointing $62,517. He’ll need to raise a lot more in order to effectively convert the thousands of memberships that he’s reportedly sold come (leadership) election day. Randy Hillier makes a respectful showing with $91,809, a sum that includes two donations from federal MP Scott Reid ($30,000) and himself ($25,000).

Cumulatively, the four PC leadership contenders have so far taken in 16 donations of $10,000 or over. Here they are:

Scott Reid $30,000.00 HILLIER
CIC Developments Inc. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Cougs Investments Ltd. $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steven Pietrobon $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Phillip Sutherland $25,000.00 ELLIOTT
Shiplake Management Company $25,000.00 HUDAK
Randy Hillier $25,000.00 HILLIER
Pace Credit Union $20,000.00 KLEES
David Cynamon $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Howard Holdings Corp $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Joanne Love $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Peter Westaway $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Ross Whalen $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Robert Wilson $10,000.00 ELLIOTT
Steane Consulting Ltd. $10,000.00 HUDAK
Mass Insurance Brokers Ltd. $10,000.00 KLEES

All data accurate from Elections Canada as of 9:15pm EST May 19th, 2009