The Conservative Party of Canada has been criticized for a fundraising campaign that attacks a recently abandoned judicial recount in Port Moody-Coquitlam.
The recount began Wednesday, Nov. 7 on the order of a federal judge in New Westminster but was terminated the following day after NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo realized it would not change the outcome of the election.
Last week, an Elections Canada validating officer found Conservative MP-elect Nelly Shin won the riding by a 153-vote margin of victory, the closest in the country.
But before the recount was abandoned, a fundraising letter from federal Conservative headquarters to party members attacks the NDP for pursuing the judicial recount, calling the party’s attempts to overturn the slim Tory margin of victory a bid “to steal this seat.”
The Tri-City News reviewed the correspondence after it was sent to Andrew Brooke, the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Kingston and the Islands (Ont.) in the Oct. 21 election. During the 2015 election cycle, Brooke ran a failed bid for the same seat under the Conservative party banner and said, despite his attempts to unsubscribe, remains on a Tory mailing list. Within a few hours of receiving the letter, Brooke took to Twitter, blasting the Conservative party for questioning the integrity of the judicial system.
“I have the utmost respect for our courts and, in this case, a judge in New Westminster ordered the recount. Enough said,” he wrote in a tweet directed at the party and leader Andrew Scheer.
Another fundraising missive from @AndrewScheer @CPC_HQ #CPC.— Andy Brooke (@AndyBrookeLmstn) November 6, 2019
HOWEVER, this appeal raises a serious question AND, in my view, sinks to a new low:
How is a court-ordered judicial recount an attempt to "steal this seat"? (Port Moody-Coquitlam). #elxn43 @peoplespca #PPC #ygk pic.twitter.com/OMDfwWqiRb
Brooke said in previous fundraising campaigns, the party often tries to activate its base with inflammatory language but that using words like “steal” crossed a line.
“I wasn’t going to stay silent on this one,” the former RCMP officer told The Tri-City News. “This isn't acceptable. I don't care who the party is.”
The Nov. 6 Tory fundraising letter also notes the party would send its “top political operatives to make sure this recount is above board,” language Brooke’s calls laughable but that also underscored a disregard for an official judicial process.
“That kind of language is what you’d expect to see in pulp fiction by some hack writer,” he said. “There's got to be boundaries or lines that shouldn't be crossed. In this instance, the Conservative Party crossed all those lines.”
In an interview with NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo, the Coquitlam city councillor told The Tri-City News the recount process was thorough, professional and positive for everyone involved. She rejected the Conservatives’ attempts to sow division in the riding.
“The recount was never about a person or a party; it was about the democratic process to ensure every vote was counted. The community wanted that. A judge agreed,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that the Conservative party sent that letter but I don’t think it reflects the Conservatives in this community.”
At the time of publication, MP-elect Nelly Shin and the Conservative Party of Canada had not responded to The Tri-City News' requests for interviews. This story will be updated if and when they do.