Politics

Quebec Liberal volunteer caught disposing of Conservative campaign literature

A volunteer helping out with the re-election campaign of Quebec Liberal Anthony Housefather was caught disposing of Conservative literature out on the campaign trail. 

Conservatives file complaint with Elections Canada about behaviour from Anthony Housefather’s campaign team

Quebec Liberal candidate Anthony Housefather can be seen in an apartment building where the Conservatives say campaign materials were removed from the doors of several residences. (Provided to CBC)

A volunteer helping out with the re-election campaign of Quebec Liberal Anthony Housefather was caught disposing of Conservative literature out on the campaign trail.

The incident was witnessed by a Conservative volunteer who happened to be canvassing the same apartment building in Côte Saint-Luc, Que., on Sept. 25. 

Documents shared with CBC News show that the witness claims Housefather was campaigning with several volunteers at the time of the incident. 

The Liberals deny the MP himself did anything wrong. Housefather was photographed in the building with his campaign team at the time. A spokesperson for Housefather confirmed a volunteer has been spoken to about this issue. 

"Mr. Housefather had no involvement in this incident," spokesperson Daniel Gans wrote in an email, adding the candidate has "addressed the matter directly with the volunteer involved in the incident." 

"Moving forward, and in order to prevent this kind of behaviour, Mr. Housefather will be taking steps to ensure all individuals participating in his campaign understand that this behaviour is not acceptable in any way."

Official complaint filed

The Conservative Party sent an official letter of complaint to Elections Canada. It also sent a letter of warning to Housefather himself. Both documents were shared with CBC News.

The first letter, by Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton, says the Conservative volunteer witnessed Housefather and his team engaging "in repeated acts of theft of our candidate's campaign literature." 

"In a video that recorded the individuals as they performed these acts of theft, Housefather can be seen participating in a discussion where one of the individuals is instructed on how he is to dispose of the campaign literature that they had just removed from the doors of several residences in the building."

CBC News was given a copy of the video. It is shot from a distance, and it's difficult to hear what is being said. CBC News has been unable to corroborate the specific claims made by Hamilton. CBC News asked to interview the witness but the request was declined.

Hamilton claims Housefather has broken the Canada Elections Act — specifically citing section 325(1), which says "no person shall prevent or impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message without the consent of a person with authority to authorize its transmission."

"By this letter, we request that an investigation into the facts described above be conducted by your office without delay."

In the letter to Housefather, Hamilton requests "immediate confirmation" that his campaign will stop any further interference, and that "you will instruct your campaign workers and volunteers that they are to no longer interfere with or handle" Conservative literature. 

While Housefather did not apologize, the email statement from Gans said he "condemns this kind of behaviour and values the right of all candidates to freely express their ideas and engage with voters." 

Housefather is seeking re-election in the riding of Mount Royal. He is up against Conservative David Tordjman, who is a well-known city councillor in that area.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Simpson is a foreign correspondent with CBC News based in Washington. Prior to joining the team in D.C. she spent six years covering Parliament Hill in Ottawa and nearly a decade covering local and provincial issues in Toronto.

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