TORONTO – Ontario opposition parties are raising concerns over images circulating online of what appears to be a fundraising letter designed to resemble an invoice from the governing Progressive Conservatives.
The NDP and Liberals say it could mislead vulnerable residents into thinking they need to pay money to the party.
The Progressive Conservatives and Premier Doug Ford’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
North Bay, Ont., resident Veronica Doyon says a letter from the Progressive Conservatives was delivered to her home and displays the word invoice across the top, with the phrase “please pay today.”
A photo of the letter Doyon shared with The Canadian Press shows a “balance due” of $300 for what’s described as an “election readiness fund.” The document describes the payment as a donation in smaller text lower down on the page.
The Canadian Press has not been able to confirm the document is authentic.
The NDP wrote to Elections Ontario on Wednesday asking for a probe into possible violations of the Elections Act.
“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,” NDP ethics critic Taras Natyshak wrote.
The Liberals said they intend to contact Ontario Provincial Police out of concern that the apparent Progressive Conservative letter could be considered a scam.
“People are already struggling financially thanks to the pandemic. The Conservatives’ apparent attempt to potentially scam vulnerable people out of what little money they have left is despicable,” Ontario Liberal Party president Brian Johns said in a statement.
Johns also called on the Conservatives to return any money they received through similar mailings.
OPP spokesman Bill Dickson confirmed that the force received a letter from the Liberal party on Wednesday asking for an investigation into the fundraising documents.
“The OPP will evaluate the request to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted,” Dickson said in a statement.
Elections Ontario said it does not confirm details of investigations or complaints, but noted fundraising materials don’t fall under its area of regulation.
“Elections Ontario regulates provincial elections in Ontario under the Election Act and the Election Finances Act. Neither Act regulates the content of campaign or fundraising materials, or the content of political advertising,” it said.
Doyon said she believes the letter was intended for her parents, who used to live in her current home, because her mother has donated to the Progressive Conservatives.
She said she initially posted the photo online to vent her frustration but has since filed a complaint with police over its presentation.
“Maybe I was able to read between the lines and see, no, they’re just asking aggressively for a donation, but it doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t,” Doyon said in a telephone interview. “They still tried to trick me.”