Edmonton

NDP and Conservatives tangle over boycott threat

An NDP employee and campaign worker has apologized to an Edmonton businessman for threatening a boycott of his company because he posted signs supporting the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona, Ryan Hastman.
Signs such as these appear on RentEx properties in Edmonton-Strathcona riding. (CBC)

An NDP employee and campaign worker has apologized to an Edmonton businessman for threatening a boycott of his company because he posted signs supporting the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-Strathcona, Ryan Hastman.

Hastman says Joel French recently sent an email to the president of RentEx Homes, Les Michaelson, saying he intended to boycott his company and encourage others to do so as well.

Hastman says French was upset that Rentex had posted his campaign signs on a number of rental properties in the riding.

Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman is shown here at a campaign event on Monday. (CBC)
French works for Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason and is a volunteer for Ray Martin's federal election campaign in Edmonton-East.

"This kind of tactic — it shows a disrespect for freedom of speech, for the democratic process," Hastman said.

"Mr. Michaelson is free to support the Conservatives without harassment. We certainly wouldn't harass NDP supporters and we expect everybody to play by the rules and to focus on the issues."

Not a big deal, Mason says

French has since sent an apology email but Michaelson doesn't believe it was sincere.

"As far as I'm concerned his email was just something that he did probably to make himself look good and the party that he works for look good," Michaelson said.  

Michaelson wants Mason to fire French over the email

Mason says he has no plans to fire or discipline French for his actions. French has now apologized and he has the right to free speech, Mason said. 

"I don't think it's a big deal one way or the other. He's a citizen like anyone else."

French could not be reached for comment.  

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