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.
On April 20, a Twitter comment from the firm's account, @FPStrategies, announced, “Knocking doors for MP Rick Dykstra. People don't like liberals here!”
Although Front Porch has not been linked to any illegal phone calls or robocalls made in the last election, citizens in both Fantino and Dykstra's ridings have reported irregularities in the campaigns. Those allegations include reported misleading calls in Dykstra's riding (St. Catherines). Although Front Porch volunteered and made phone calls for Fantino in hopes of winning a contract, he did not hire them.
Under the Canada Elections Act section 331 (Non-interference by Foreigners), it is illegal for a non-resident to directly participate in election campaigns in Canada:
“No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident.”
If the violation was intentional, the offence carries a summary conviction, according to the Act.
Dykstra, Fantino, or Parker did not reply to phone calls and emails from The Vancouver Observer. But the company's Canadian liaison responded that Wenzel and Parker's involvement was limited to campaign volunteering on only two days during the election.
“They were in Ontario for a day and a half (in April), for the purpose of acquiring new clients,” political consultant Jim Ross told the Vancouver Observer. “They knocked on doors for roughly an hour with Rick, traditional canvassing to identify support. While waiting for a delayed meeting they made roughly 30 minutes worth of phone calls for Minister Fantino, again to identify support.
“Other than teleforums, brief incidental volunteerism as described above over the course of a day and a half that was mostly spent trying to acquire new clients. There was no other involvement.”
Social media announcements from Front Porch Strategies suggest otherwise, however.
U.S. strategists "on the front lines" during Canada's election day
“Front Porch is on the front lines as Conservatives are taking over Canadian Parliament!” Front Porch's Twitter feed stated on election day, May 2.
Ross insisted Wenzel and Parker were not in the country beyond their April 19-20 visit, despite the May 2 tweet about being on the “front lines.”
“It's not true. I'm not sure why anyone would have thought that,” Ross said. “We provided telephone town halls to 14 winning Conservative candidates in and preceding the 2011 election.
"We provided no unrelated services.”
All 14 Conservative campaigns that hired Front Porch Strategies – based in Columbus, Ohio – emerged winners in the election.