Politics

'Seek and Destroy' campaign against People's Party didn't violate elections law: commissioner

The "seek and destroy" campaign that Warren Kinsella and his firm Daisy Group waged against Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada didn't violate Canada's elections laws, Canada's elections watchdog has concluded.

Commissioner of Elections office closes the book on complaint against Warren Kinsella and Daisy Group

Warren Kinsella said today he was "delighted" by the Commissioner of Canada Elections' report. (Lorenda Reddekopp, CBC News)

The "seek and destroy" campaign that Warren Kinsella and his firm Daisy Group waged against Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada didn't violate Canada's elections laws, Canada's elections watchdog has concluded.

In a letter to Kinsella dated Jan. 8, Mylène Gigou, director of investigations for the Commissioner of Canada Elections, said the complaints against Kinsella and his firm were unfounded.

"Based on the outcome of our review and the information available, we have determined that neither you nor the Daisy Group contravened the Act," she wrote. "We consider the matter closed."

Kinsella said he welcomed the verdict.

"We weren't surprised by the result. We invited their review," Kinsella told CBC News. "But we were delighted that they were so clear and thorough in their decision."

Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté's office has concluded that the campaign against Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada didn't break the law. (Elizabeth Thompson/CBC)

However, Gigou's letter might not mark the end of the controversy that began when reports emerged during the election that Kinsella had been hired by the Conservative Party to discredit the People's Party of Canada by highlighting PPC candidates' and supporters' xenophobic statements on social media.

André Marin, lawyer for Bernier, said the decision by the commissioner's office doesn't affect Bernier's plans to sue Kinsella for labelling him a racist. He expects to file the lawsuit in the coming weeks.

To date, Kinsella has not said publicly who hired his firm to wage a social media campaign against the People's Party and keep Bernier out of the leaders' debate.

A source with knowledge of the contract, dubbed Project Cactus, identified the Conservative Party of Canada as the client.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny his party commissioned the work. The contract ended just before the point in the run-up to the election when parties were required to report any election spending going forward.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

About the Author

Elizabeth Thompson

Senior Reporter

Award-winning reporter Elizabeth Thompson covers Parliament Hill. A veteran of the Montreal Gazette, Sun Media and iPolitics, she currently works with the CBC's Ottawa bureau, specializing in investigative reporting and data journalism. She can be reached at: elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca.

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