Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parker Gallant's Open Letter To Elections Ontario

Parker Gallant

October 11, 2011

Open Letter to:

Mr. Jonathan Batty,
Director of Election Finances and General Counsel,
Elections Ontario,
51 Rolark Drive,
Toronto, ON.,
M1R 3B1

Dear Mr. Batty:

The recent Ontario Provincial Election saw a record low number of voters exercising their rights to vote. In my personal opinion it is because many voters feel that the system has been compromised and the outcome is not within their ability to influence through their vote. One of the principal reason why, is that many large organizations with biased and prejudiced views used their might to support or denigrate certain parties and do so using all of the media available to them. When the weight of these organizations either favour a party or denigrate another it overwhelmingly influences the outcome.

In the election just over, approximately 8.8 million Ontarians were eligible to vote yet only 4.3 million (49.2%) of them exercised their rights. This resulted in a party winning the election with only 18% (1.6 million) of the eligible votes. There is something wrong with this and perhaps Elections Ontario should examine itself and it's mandate in a serious effort to engage the voting public. Should the public service sector union(s) of 1 million voters (who represent as much as 62 % of the votes cast for the Liberal Party) be allowed to interfere with the election process to the extent they did in this and prior elections? Should vested interest groups such as the environmental Non Government Organizations (ENGOs) or registered charities be allowed to do the same by utilizing the media (both direct and social)? As the below notes both of these groups were allowed to do so by Elections Ontario; and in my opinion to the detriment of the democratic process!

As evidence of the above it has come to my attention that the under-noted organizations appear to have engaged in third party election advertising via a variety of media activities and it is my personal opinion that they should be investigated for their activities under the Election Finances Act, which applies to third party election advertising. Several of them or their founding members have also lobbied the Ontario Legislature without the benefit of registration with the Lobbyist Registry and those are noted. In those cases I would kindly ask that Elections Ontario simply advise the Integrity Commissioner of those infractions.

  1. This website appears to have been created by Environmental Defence Canada as noted from this quote taken from their website; “So far, Come Clean is a project of Environmental Defence Canada, Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, CPAWS Wildlands League, Pembina Institute, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and Sierra Club Ontario” and as noted the contact point is the Director of Communications, Environmental Defence. This name is not registered in the Ontario Lobbyist Registry. This group posted a letter that encouraged people to send to all parties but the message is clear in that it states; “I'm concerned that our new clean energy jobs, our greenspace, and our clean air and water could be taken away from us. Ontario's elected officials are all over the place in talking about these things, leaving us confused about the direction we are heading in. Please let me know where you stand on these issues. Please come clean!” The only party that stated they would kill the FIT program are the PC Party so the message is obviously directed at them and the clear intent of the letter is for the reader to favour one of the other parties that would retain it.
  2. Working Families according to their website is a coalition of 13 Unions of whom at least 4 are from the public sector. They have run a series of TV ads also posted on their website that were blatant in telling the audience to NOT vote for the PC party and have also posted numerous “articles” on their website from union leaders reputedly highlighting the dangers of the PC Platform. Working Families is not registered on the Ontario Lobbyist Registry.
  3. Environmental Defence according to their website (and posted on other websites) enlisted an 8 year old as “the youngest candidate to not run in a provincial election” as soon as the writ was dropped. ED's push with Penelope was clearly to retain the current Green Energy Act that they were partially responsible for creating in the first place. Penelope's “campaign manager”, Adam Scott, is an employee of Environmental Defence and the “project coordinator for green energy”. The founder of ED was Mr. Bruce Lourie who sits on the Board of the Ontario Power Authority and the Board of the Trillium Foundation (provincially owned). The latter have granted ED $943K since 2007. Rick Smith of ED sent the attached letter out in an attempt to convince people to vote for “unsustainable growth and global warming” as well as “supporting policies that limit pollution and invest in clean energy”. That he uses his “doctorate” degree as if to imply a medical degree is an obvious attempt to make the reader believe he is a medical doctor. The Penelope “report card” discloses what ED want from the parties. Did this 8 year old come up with the questions posed on that report card? ED also joined up with the United Steelworkers (unable to find them or on the Ontario Lobbyists Registry) to launch a website that promotes a CanWEA report favourable to retaining the Green Energy Act and the Long Term Energy Plan both products of the previous government.
  4. Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) is another ENGO that has received almost $900K from the Trillium Foundation. OSEA has received considerable publicity for running biased TV ads recently pushing renewable energy and the Green Energy Act they claim they helped create. OSEA also launched biased websites and held a video contest that coincidentally awarded prizes as voting day neared. The list of sponsors and partners of this “contest” includes many ENGOs and Charitable Foundations as well as Associations as you will note when you visit their site. OSEA claims that the money to pay for the TV ads came from their “members” but never disclosed the source. Their financial position as at March 31, 2010 indicated they had only enough money to pay their staff for a month yet they were able to pay for these TV ads! How? Their members includes many publicly owned institutions from both the provincial & municipal sector so did those members contribute?. You can also reference my article for further information.
  5. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are yet another biased institution that launched an election bus to tour Ontario to tell people that they should vote for the NDP.
  6. Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation has told it's members to vote as this excerpt points out: “This means again concentrating on priority campaigns that offer the best chance to:
• Prevent a Conservative candidate from winning a seat away from an incumbent Liberal or NDP MPP
• Stop a sitting Conservative MPP from being re-elected
• Help more pro-education and progressive Liberal and NDP voices get elected”
This is blatant partisan instructions to the Federation members and denigrates the democratic process in our Province. Even their video “Get out the vote” shows windmills and full day kindergarten which is obviously sending a clear message to teachers and students that you should support both and vote for the party that has them on their platform.

7. Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association's (OECTA) "Who Speaks for Children" campaign was launched on YouTube in March. It highlights the successes of Ontario students since 2003, when the Liberal government came to power. It lauds Ontario's recent education successes and refers to the tumultuous period of the Mike Harris years when unions clashed constantly and bitterly with Harris' Conservative government. This is an obvious bias against the Ontario PC Party. OECTA had this to say in their press release of September 6, 2011; “Of the various political party platforms that have been released to date, only the Liberal platform addresses these goals.” Talk about a partisan position!
8. Citizens Climate Lobby is another organization that is not on the Ontario Lobbyist Registry despite calling itself a “Lobby” group. It has connections to OSEA (see above) and York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies (home of one of the founders of the Green Energy Act-Professor Jose Etcheverry), MaRS Discovery District (see below), Citizens Climate Lobby (USA) and Climate Action Network (see below). It has no visible means of support yet it has issued a letter that clearly favours the Liberals platform and states it is “in support of the Green Energy Act and the FIT program”, products of the Liberal Government.

    1. Sierra Club is another charity that is and continues to lobby extensively in favour of the Green Energy Act and has received about $500K from the Trillium Foundation. The Executive Director, John Bennett has taken lobbying to the people in rural Ontario by showing up at local council meetings asking them to rescind their requests to the Provincial Government to declare a moratorium on future industrial wind turbine installations until a health study on their effects has been completed. Sierra Club also supported greenprosperity “a joint effort by 21 of Ontario’s leading environmental organizations including Environmental Defence, the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club Ontario, Greenpeace, Ontario Clear Air Alliance and others”. Interestingly enough the “green prosperity” website has a similar report card to the Environmental Defence's Penelope report card (see above)!
    2. Pembina Institute's Cherise Burda was upfront in her analysis of the Ontario party platforms of the four parties vying for election in Pembina's analysis by stating; "Each party has plans in its platform to keep our lights on and build transportation infrastructure," says Cherise Burda, director of Ontario policy for the Pembina Institute. "But when it comes to building a clean energy future for Ontario, the Liberals and NDP are far ahead of the Progressive Conservatives." Pembina claims to be non-partisan however this obvious recommendation clearly favours the Liberals and the NDP while tossing the PC and Green parties under the bus. The CRA rules indicate charities are not allowed to display partisan politics during an election regardless of Elections Ontario.
    3. MaRS Discovery District, a charity created with Federal, Provincial and Municipal taxpayer money is another of those that feigns non-partisan policies but where a senior member of their staff, T. Rand a blatant supporter of the Liberals Green Energy Act recently guest blogged on Tyler Hamilton's blog (affiliated with the green living website) had this to say; “Results matter. Support the party that built the GEA, as they’re the only ones in a position to protect it.” MaRS Discovery District cannot be found on the Ontario Lobbyist Registry.
    4. David Suzuki Foundation was co-founded by David Suzuki and until recently he was listed on their Board of Directors and endorsed the Ontario Liberal Party. That he claims he has severed his relationship with the Foundation is of no material value to the general population as his name is synonymous with the Foundation and he still is focused on, in the Foundation's website. The Liberals were using his endorsement on their website, in TV ads and presumably in printed material thereby allowing his bias to their policies on energy generation to benefit their campaign.
    5. Climate Action Network is another ENGO whose members are dozens of similar NGOs and charities and focused on the Ontario Provincial Election by offering visitors to it's website to utilize a “grassroots toolkit” which were directly aimed at influencing the provincial voters. Headquartered in Ottawa in the same building as the Sierra Club it is obvious that there is collusion among the ENGOs that interferes in elections and evidence that they were very involved in pushing their agenda and supported the Liberal Party.

As a director on a non-partisan energy related NGO I find the foregoing activities not in keeping with the process that Elections Ontario is charged with keeping. I would assume that all of the above have spent more then the allowable $500.00 and are in breach of the Ontario Elections Act. In view of the foregoing I would appreciate your investigating the above institutions to ensure their compliance with the laws and rules governing the election process in this province.

Yours truly,

Parker Gallant,
a concerned citizen

NOTE: Mr. Gallant's followed-up with a 2nd open letter to Elections Ontario, which is posted here

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