Fredericton Conservative MP Keith Ashfield is learning a hard lesson about how the internet has changed the old question: what's in a name?
The federal cabinet minister registered the domain name keithashfield.ca during the 2008 election to promote his candidacy.
'Obviously it doesn't make me very happy. But in this day of technology. Obviously, I've learned a lesson from this.' — Keith Ashfield, Fredericton MP
But Ashfield, now the minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, let the registration lapse, which allowed someone else to take over the domain name.
The new owner is using the page for a totally different purpose than politics.
Now if someone is looking for information on the Fredericton politician, they won't find it at keithashfield.ca. What they will find are details on how to buy prescription drugs "with no prescription."
The site lists various drugs available from overseas pharmacies without a prescription including OxyContin, Ritalin and diazepam.
"Obviously it doesn't make me very happy," Ashfield said. "But in this day of technology, obviously I've learned a lesson from this."
Namespro Solutions Inc., a Vancouver-based company, bought the registration for the keithashfield.ca domain name on Feb. 11. The company's website says it offers a complete set of domain name services, ranging from domain registrations to web hosting services to first class customer and technical support.
It is unclear who now owns the keithashfield.ca domain name.
Alastair Johnstone of Fredericton's Media Cross Roads Web Media, which develops websites for various companies, said domain registry companies often scan the internet for about-to-expire domain names so they can snap them up.
"Somebody has obviously targeted keithashfield.ca in order to get this. However, they could have targeted thousands of websites at the same time," he said.
Johnstone said Ashfield can appeal to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, but he will have to prove he has higher claim to the site.
Another option would be for Ashfield to buy the site back from the current owner.
"They've been known to charge millions, it depends on who you are," Johnstone said.
Ashfield said he's still exploring what to do.
"There is some sort of dispute mechanism or some sort of ombudsman or somebody that may be able to work through this process," he said.
"Or I could probably purchase the name … I don't know what the price would be at this point. So it's a bit of a scam in a sense."