Fortin asks for review of 2014 Summerland election campaign

Concerns raised over Leadnow involvement in Stop the Swap initiative

Roch Fortin would like the provincial Office of the Privacy Commissioner to revisit the last Summerland election campaign, from the 2014 municipal election.

In that election, Fortin was one of five mayoral candidates and lost to Peter Waterman by 77 votes.

However, he said his concern is not about the outcome of the election. Rather it is concerns that “personal information was obtained via a petition and given without authorization to a third party located in Vancouver.”

Prior to the election campaign, a local organization, Stop the Swap, circulated a petition opposed to a municipal land exchange.

This exchange called for the removal of 80.34 hectares of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve, near the core of the community. In exchange, 91.7 hectares in the Prairie Valley area was to be added to the land reserve.

The proposed land swap resulted in significant opposition from within the community and beyond.

Leadnow, a provincial organization involved in numerous campaigns and social causes, was involved in the campaign, including a petition which received more than 3,000 signatures, 1,500 from Summerland residents.

Today, Leadnow’s campaigns include initiatives opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, a ban on single-use plastics, support for the proportional representation model in provincial elections and others.

After the election, Fortin said some people who signed the petition have received other information from Leadnow and other advocacy organizations.

He wonders why personal information from the petition was given out to other organizations.

“We should be, as a society, able to sign a petition. I think it’s a basic democratic right,” he said. “What is wrong is that third parties from outside the area are involved in the democratic process.”

In his letter to the privacy commissioner, Fortin asks that the personal information on petitions not be passed on to other organizations.

“I feel compelled to request a review, and stressing importance of protecting our personal information,” his letter said.

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