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Municipal election campaign volunteer turfed over fake email endorsement

“We have endeavoured to conduct a principled campaign and condemn any efforts to misinform the public,” said a statement from VIVA Victoria candidate slate.
Victoria City Hall. TIMES COLONIST

A campaign worker aligned with the Vancouver Island Voters Association Victoria has been dismissed from the municipal election campaign after allegations the worker sent an email, purporting to be from Island Health, endorsing the entire VIVA Victoria candidate slate and select other candidates for council and school board.

In a statement sent out late Monday, VIVA Victoria said as a new local elector organization it has involved ordinary people in the democratic process as candidates, organizers and volunteers.

“We have endeavoured to conduct a principled campaign and condemn any efforts to misinform the public,” it said.

Island Health said it does not endorse candidates and did not send the email.

VIVA Victoria acknowledged allegations had been made that the organization had sent the email in an attempt to sway voters.

“This email was a complete and utter surprise to our organization and we immediately issued a statement disavowing authorship,” it said. “Since that time, more information has been published concerning the alleged origin of this email and an individual connected with our elector organization has been accused of sending it. As a result of these allegations we have parted ways with this individual and they are no longer affiliated with VIVA Victoria.”

The email was widely shared Monday morning from the email address and had been addressed to Victoria and area daycares. That email address has since been deleted.

The email provided a list of candidates it endorsed due to their views on childcare and public safety.

The list included the entire VIVA slate running for a post on Victoria’s council, mayoral candidate Stephen Andrew and council candidate Jordan Quitzau as well as the six VIVA candidates seeking a spot on the school board and independent school board candidate Judith Zulu.

University of Victoria political scientist Michael Prince said it should come as no surprise that tricks are turning up in this election.

“It just shows you that municipal elections are not immune from some of the trickery and shenanigans we’ve seen in provincial and federal elections across the country with robocalls and the directing of people at polling stations and so forth,” he said.

Stephen Andrew said it was a text from the Times Colonist that alerted him to the email, and as quickly as he heard about it he dismissed it.

“It’s a silly attempt to misinform voters,” said Andrew in an interview. “I absolutely reject the endorsement by this individual or group of individuals.”

Andrew went on to call it feeble and poorly executed.

Emmanuel Parenteau, a VIVA candidate for Victoria council, said he didn’t know much about it.

“What I’ve been told is that it was none of the candidates or leadership. It is obviously an extremely dumb and unethical thing for anyone to do,” he said. “I have no way of knowing who has done this, unfortunately.”

Jeremy Maddock, another VIVA council candidate and the slate’s financial agent, said the move was not endorsed by anyone at VIVA and he didn’t think any reasonable person would believe the email came from Island Health.

“If they’re being deceptive about who they are, then that has to stop,” he said.

Maddock said it would certainly hurt the VIVA brand if anyone thought they were posing as Island Health, and suggested the move might have been made to hurt the slate.

“I don’t see why anybody on our side would do that. It seems like a very shortsighted thing to do unless they’re trying to slam our reputation somehow,” he said. “I guess Stephen Andrew is on there too, right? So I don’t know if they’re trying to undermine him.”

The VIVA slate was also taking hits from other quarters Monday.

A group of independent candidates vying for a seat on Victoria’s council was urging candidates to boycott an Oct. 4 all-candidates meeting being organized by Candidates for Change.

Victoria council candidates Jeremy Caradonna, Matt Dell, Susan Kim, Krista Loughton and Dave Thompson argue Candidates for Change is a part of the We Unify Canada organization, which played a role in the anti-vaccine protests and “trucker” convoys and have strong ties to VIVA.

“I’m not interested in lending credibility to events affiliated with the [People’s Party of Canada] and VIVA. We should all be skeptical of the radical conservative movements that have dragged down American politics and are looking to establish themselves in Canada,” said Caradonna.

“I will not participate in an event organized by a group that disguises its affiliations and seeks to distance itself from its roots in a bid to be more palatable to the people of our city, who have made it clear they do not share these regressive values,” Kim said.

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