A prominent anti-wind-power group is under fire amid accusations it broke election financing by running a negative advertising campaign against Liberal candidates last fall.
Toronto resident Jude MacDonald and her lawyer Clayton Ruby have made a formal complaint to Elections Ontario, the non-partisan agency that runs and polices provincial elections.
They say Wind Concerns Ontario failed to comply with the Election Finance Act by allegedly spending over the $500 threshold on political advertising during the provincial campaign without registering as a third party.
MacDonald points to billboards that said, “Hudak In Turbines Out,” and a pro-Progressive Conservative speaking tour of 24 ridings carried out by the grassroots anti-wind group.
But John Laforet, former president of WCO, said the spending allegations are completely false and the complaint is “baseless.”
“The fact is, we did no advertising during the campaign,” he said.
WCO had “no budget” for advertising. “It’d be interesting to see what their concern is,” said Laforet, who also denied WCO put up the billboards. He left the organization late last year. Jane Wilson is the new president.
MacDonald is an activist, former journalist and a supporter of the NDP. She said she lodged the complaint because she is troubled by the influence groups such as Wind Concerns and the Working Families coalition of anti-Tory unions seem to have in Ontario politics.
“I believe in democracy,” MacDonald said. “How much money they (WCO) are spending, I don’t know. All I do know is they did have billboards, lawn signs, they had a number of events where they had what looks like professionally printed signs and that adds up.”
MacDonald, who helped launch the news web site Rabble.ca in 2001, said she first became aware of the on Facebook.
The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party believes the rise of third party advertising, in general, was a big problem during the election, said Alan Sakach, the PC party director of communications.
“We believe the biggest violation of election laws was the $9 million that Working Families, a front group for the Ontario Liberal Party, spent attacking our leader Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC Party,” Sakach said.
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