Nothing wrong with using voters list to mail Jagmeet Singh’s Christmas cards

Nothing wrong with using voters list to mail Jagmeet Singh's Christmas cards

OTTAWA — Canada’s election watchdog says the NDP did nothing wrong when it used the national voters list to send Christmas cards from Jagmeet Singh.

Still, a spokesman for the NDP leader is apologizing and says it won’t happen again.

Under the Canada Elections Act, parties are authorized to use the list of electors to communicate with voters, including to solicit donations.

There are no specific descriptions or exclusions as to what constitutes communicating with electors and no restrictions on the use of the list for authorized purposes outside an election period.

Myriam Croussette, spokeswoman for elections commissioner Yves Cote, says greeting cards are a legitimate and common way for parties to communicate with electors.

The issue arose when holiday cards from Singh were delivered to the home addresses of some members of the parliamentary press gallery.

Singh spokesman George Soule says a staffer at party headquarters dipped into the voters list to help out  someone in the leader’s office who couldn’t find addresses for some of the journalists who cover Parliament Hill.

“This was a mistake and we will make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Soule said.

Soule said the holiday card list that included addresses gleaned from the voters list has since been destroyed and the party quickly notified Cote, who enforces election laws, of a possible breach.

The Canada Elections Act stipulates that it is a criminal offence — punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both — to  use personal information contained in the voters list in an unauthorized manner.

However, in this instance, there was no breach, said Croussette.

“There’s no prohibition against the use of the list of electors for parties to send greeting cards and it’s actually common practice,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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