Tories may have broken 2011 election rules with US Republican campaigners in Ontario
U.S. directors from Front Porch Strategies worked “in the trenches” for Tory candidates in 2011, going door to door and openly campaigning for Conservative candidates, the firm's Canadian liason said.
In at least two Conservative-won ridings with reported election irregularities, Front Porch Strategies had US staff on the ground – possibly against Elections Canada rules barring foreign campaigning. In the wake of the “robocall” voter suppression scandal, the Republican-tied U.S. firm hired by 14 Conservative campaigns admitted on Friday to having had U.S. staff working "in the trenches" during the 2011 elections, in an apparent violation of the Canada Election Act which bars foreign political involvement.
Americans PJ Wenzel and Matthew Parker -- director and CEO of Front Porch Strategies, respectively – participated directly in at least two Canadian Conservative campaigns, according to social media updates and a photograph from the successful election campaigns of associate defence minister Julian Fantino and MP Rick Dykstra, immigration minister Jason Kenney's parliamentary secretary.
US political strategy firm used widely by Tory MPs, but not always cited in Elections Canada reports
The revelations contradict Conservative party claims that Front Porch Strategies' only role during the election was to conduct telephone town halls.
Republican strategists helping Conservatives' campaign
“Matt and PJ headed to Toronto tomorrow to campaign for Conservative Candidates!” Front Porch Strategies posted on their official Facebook page on April 18, 2011. “Nothing like getting in the trenches with terrific people who are going to make a difference once elected.”
The next day, Front Porch's Facebook page featured a photograph of Parker, telephone in hand, as he looked over what appears to be a voter contact list and a poster stating: “Election day is Monday, May 2. YOU CAN VOTE NOW.”
Below the photo was the caption: “Matt lending a hand for MP Fantino here in the greater Toronto area (GTA),” followed by a Front Porch Strategies comment three days later: “We need to get VoIP [Voice Over Internet Protocol] phones up there... dialing numbers is so 'old-fashioned'.... we need to get them the '21st Century Technology.'”