Essex MPP raises concern over Tories’ fundraising letters

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak in Windsor, March 15, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

An NDP Member of Provincial Parliament from Windsor-Essex has raised the alarm over a fundraising letter sent by the Progressive Conservatives.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the NDP Ethics Critic at Queens Park, sent a letter to Elections Ontario, asking it to investigate whether or not a fundraising inquiry by the Ontario PC Party violated the Elections Act.

“The letter signed by the Chair of the PC Ontario Fund solicits a $300 donation to the Premier’s Election Readiness Fund and is designed to resemble an overdue bill or invoice,” wrote Natyshak.

According to a photo of the fundraising letter that was first posted to Reddit, the word “invoice” is seen in the top right-hand corner, and the letter contains the address of the PC Party’s fundraising department in Toronto. Near the bottom of the page, the words “Balance due, $300” are seen.

A Reddit image of what appears to be a fundraising request from the Ontario PC Party is seen. Image courtesy Reddit/miss rebelx.

A Reddit image of what appears to be a fundraising request from the Ontario PC Party is seen. Image courtesy Reddit/miss rebelx.

The accompanying sheet asks the recipient to pay the amount, “to send Doug Ford the clear message that we’ve got his back. Your generous donation is the first critical step in the re-election of Premier Doug Ford and his Ontario PC government.” It is signed by Tony Miele, the chairperson of the fundraising effort.

Natyshak said in his letter to Elections Ontario that the fundraising letter appears to intentionally mislead people, and may be considered by some to be a scam.

“It is deeply concerning that the Premier would authorize a fundraising letter created to deliberately confuse or alarm vulnerable individuals into a donation to his campaign,” wrote Natyshak. “I ask that you review the attached correspondence to determine if it violates the Elections Act and holds the PC Party and the Premier responsible.”

The Ontario Liberal Party has also complained about the mailings and announced on Wednesday that it also plans to ask Elections Ontario to investigate.

“Seniors and newcomers can be especially vulnerable to fraud,” said Ontario Liberal Party President Brian Johns. “They need to know that these invoices are fake and that they do not have to pay. How many entrepreneurs, reeling from lengthy lockdowns, have received these fake invoices? That’s why Ontario Liberals are requesting an investigation.”

Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner also said the party would file a complaint, as well as contact anti-fraud investigators with the Ontario Provincial Police.

Blackburn News reached out to the Premier’s office for comment Wednesday afternoon but was referred to the Ontario PC Party. A message requesting a response from the PC Party was not immediately returned.