March 24, 2015
Mr. Richard Ciano,
President, Ontario PC Party & Chair, LEOC
59 Adelaide Street East, 4th Floor
Toronto, ON M5C 1K6
Dear Mr. Ciano:
Please extend my congratulations to the LEOC officials and Party staff at Ontario PC Party headquarters for their diligent work these past several weeks at processing the membership submissions from the various PC leadership candidates.
Our campaign has thus far received two different copies of the list of the new members submitted by our campaign directly to party headquarters at the end of last month. While neither of these “draft” versions of the list yet includes 100% of the memberships that our campaign submitted, we trust that this will be resolved in due course.
Of greater concern are the recent accusations made by the Brown and Elliott campaigns against each other and, implicitly, against Party headquarters. Some of these charges must be taken in stride and are of a “candidate-partisan” nature - the sort of comments that one would expect in the heat of the campaign.
The Elliott campaign has accused the Brown campaign that the Brown submission numbers are not quite what they seem to be, that the “official PC list will show 22k of the 30k” plus new members submitted by the Brown campaign are from an intensive concentration in a mere 14 ridings, leaving only 8,000 or 10,000 memberships in the remaining 93 ridings. This is according to a tweet transmitted by the Elliott campaign on March 4 (@J_Lizotte). Further, Jordan Enns (@JordanEnns), also of the Elliott campaign, tweeted on March 3: “Based on concentration of memberships, appears Elliott has majority in 93 ridings & Brown has 14 - each riding counts for max 100 pts. #pcpo”.
In a March 4 news release from the Patrick Brown campaign, Brown campaign manager Bob Stanley did not deny such accusations, but merely said: “This isn’t my first leadership campaign. We have a strong team, in every riding of the province, and I’m very happy with the wide distribution of our sales.” The same news release continues: “Patrick Brown has called repeatedly for the Party to release his campaign’s membership numbers. So far, the Party has been unable to do so.”
We are mystified as to why the Patrick Brown campaign has been insisting on immediate confirmation of membership submission numbers from the PCPO regarding their own February 28 submissions. The Brown campaign is well aware that no such confirmation has been possible these last few weeks: the verification process is necessarily a thorough and exhaustive one, and the final membership list is not due to be released by the PCPO until early April. For the record, the McNaughton campaign applauds the party for its handling of this issue and its refusal thus far to release any official numbers. Such a disclosure prior to the release of the final list would be irresponsible.
What further concerns our campaign, though, is this: how could the Christine Elliott campaign have any idea of the distribution of Patrick Brown’s membership submission across 14 of the 107 ridings? On what basis does the Elliott campaign accuse the Brown campaign of recruiting 22,000 new members in only 14 ridings? If this accusation is true, it could indeed be very damaging to the Brown campaign, as it would suggest that the vast of majority of Brown’s new recruits are going to be “wasted” under our party’s 100 point/riding system. The number of new Brown recruits in the remaining 93 ridings would be rather small in comparison to his best 14 ridings, and would cast severe doubt on his claim to be the clear frontrunner.
Either the Elliott Campaign is fabricating this information, which, I suppose, could be dismissed as hyperbole and “just politics” or else privileged information has been leaked by LEOC officials or Party staff. If the latter, this represents a rather serious breach of data integrity.
Most of all, our campaign is concerned about the March 17 accusation hurled by the Brown campaign in a news release, regarding an alleged legal threat made by the Elliott campaign. From Brown’s campaign manager, Bob Stanley: “I trust this means the Elliott Campaign will withdraw the lawyer’s letter I’m told was sent threatening the PC Party of Ontario if it releases detailed membership sales numbers for any campaign, including the Brown campaign.”
Mr. Ciano – we are reluctant to comment any further on this alleged “lawyer’s letter” from the Elliott campaign without having seen it, but we can say this: in our view, it is entirely up to the LEOC whether or not to release membership submission numbers. You should not be intimidated by a lawyer’s letter on this matter or any other tactics from the Elliott campaign to cover-up or otherwise obscure the details of the submission results.
Further to all of the above, the Monte McNaughton campaign has two requests for information.
Firstly, can you confirm that, thus far, no details pertaining the distribution of membership submissions for any candidate have been leaked by you or any LEOC officials or Party staff, and, further, that the Elliott Campaign’s serious accusation against the Brown campaign must, at this point, be entirely based on “pure political speculation”?
Secondly, can you confirm receipt by you or by any LEOC officials or Party staff of a “lawyer’s letter” from either of the Elliott or Brown campaigns on any issue related to the disclosure of party membership numbers or candidate submission numbers? If there is such a letter, could you please forward said letter to our campaign?
We fully expect the Party will produce a “final” membership list in the next few days, as per the leadership rules. Once you have transmitted this list to each of the campaigns, we suggest that you take measures to put an end to the speculations and accusations that our opponents have been making about the various campaigns in this race.
To this end, we request:
- That you release the total number of PC party memberships submitted directly to the PCPO by each campaign, in total; and
- That you release a complete riding-by-riding breakdown that reveals:
- The total number of eligible voters in each riding; and
- The total number of new members submitted by each campaign, for each riding.
As you know, our leadership election is not “one big contest” but indeed is the aggregate of 107 different contests, one in each of the 107 ridings, and every riding is equal, each having potentially 100 points. The information requested above will be of great interest to every Party member all across Ontario.
Our Party members deserve to know the results of the submission process in a clear and transparent way: the Party belongs to them, not to the leadership campaigns. Moreover, such a disclosure by the Party will end the needless accusations that have been and doubtless will be leveled by one campaign against another. It will also remove the temptation of LEOC officials or Party staff to “leak” information to one campaign or another.
A full disclosure of these numbers, as per our above requests, will remove a needless distraction from this leadership race and allow the three leadership candidates and their campaigns to focus on the issues that are of importance to the Party members. The sooner we, as a Party, move away from these “process” stories, the better.
Again, please pass on my thanks to the LEOC officials and Party staff for their professional handling of these and related issues.
Monte McNaughton, MPP
C.C.: Bob Bailey, MPP, Co-Chair, Monte McNaughton Campaign
Patrick Brown, MP, Candidate
John Capobianco, Chair, Christine Elliott Campaign
Chris Deans, Secretary, LEOC
Christine Elliott, MPP, Candidate
Walied Soliman, Chair, Patrick Brown Campaign