The provincial Liberals have set up a toll-free number to take calls from Ontario voters who fear they may have been directed to wrong voting polls by Tory letters found in two ridings.
The Liberals say they are demanding answers from PC Leader Tim Hudak’s campaign and if anyone feels as though they have either got fraudulent letters or misleading information, they should call 1-647-341-6754.
The Tory letters, found in London North Centre and in Ottawa West-Nepean, were form letters used by all campaign offices to remind people it is voting day on June 12 and to get the vote out, the PC Ontario campaign says.
The letters do not tell people where to go to vote, says Will Stewart, the campaign’s director of communications.
In a campaign of this size, with thousands of volunteers, mistakes are going to happen, Stewart told the Star late Tuesday.
The PCs do not know how many letters went out to Liberal supporters but they are investigating, he added.
But the Liberals are accusing the Tories of using dirty tricks similar to what happened during the 2011 robocall scandal.
The London letter was written by Tim Gatten, a member of the Tory riding association for London North Centre, explained Jeff Lang, who works for Nancy Branscombe, the PC candidate for the riding. He said a volunteer mistakenly sent some of the letters to Liberal supporters.
Lang said Gatten’s form letter urges Tory supporters to get out and vote: “Our plan is to drive together to the Ridgeview Community Church at 1470 Glenora Dr. for the opening of the polls at 9 a.m.”
The Ottawa letter, routed through the same postal depot in Toronto as the London letter, was sent to a resident of Ottawa West-Nepean, the Liberals said. They said the letter “confused” a Liberal supporter by directing her to vote 1.4 km away from her home even though her actual voting station is right across the street.
Scarborough Centre Liberal candidate Brad Duguid called the Tory letters “deeply troubling.”
“We’re talking about suspected voter suppression in the Ontario election at the same time as the federal Conservative robocall scandal is before the courts,” said Duguid via a statement Wednesday morning.
“Tim Hudak has not explained how the same misleading letter was sent out in at least three ridings, or provided clear assurances that this won’t happen again.”
The third riding where a letter was found was in Niagara Falls during a February byelection.
Duguid said this is one of the tightest votes in Ontario’s history and that at this point, every vote counts.
“Even the slightest hint of voter suppression is worrisome, but to learn that the PCs provided voters with entirely incorrect information is extremely alarming,” he said.
The Liberals have filed complaints over the matter to Elections Ontario.
Voter suppression charges could lead to fines up to $25,000 and two years, less a day, in jail, according to the Ontario Elections Act.