The Conservative and Liberal campaigns in the riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon are raising concerns about each other.
According to Jeff Wilson, campaign manager for Conservative candidate Brad Vis, they have lodged complaints with Elections Canada regarding political rival Liberal Jati Sidhu’s campaign.
One complaint is in regard to some billboards that Sidhu has had on display for several years. The signs – the closest is located on Highway 11, by Harris Road – identify Sidhu as an MP, reference the Government of Canada and include a phone number to his constituency office.
“That is a violation of the Elections Canada Act and the RO (returning officer) has now ordered those signs taken down,” said Wilson, adding candidates are not allowed to use the designation MP.
Wilson also said that Sidhu’s constituency office is a taxpayer-funded office and has nothing to do with the campaign.
However, when the Sidhu campaign was asked about the billboards, they said the issue had already been dealt with.
In an email to The Record, Sidhu acknowledged that the returning officer had brought up the subject of his public service announcement billboards.
“As requested, I took action as soon as possible and implemented the necessary changes,” he wrote.
Sidhu was not required to remove the signs; rather, he had to cover up the phone number and other references. Sections of the sign have been covered, but the MP reference remains.
A second complaint from the local Conservatives states that Sidhu also sent out a parliamentary mailer, which arrived in local voters’ mail boxes 10 days after the writ dropped.
According to Wilson, an MP’s office isn’t supposed to send out mailers 36 days before an election. That way, they aren’t using their MP budget to do electioneering.
However, Sidhu explained that his campaign has no control over the delivery schedule, noting that each of the 338 MPs are given the opportunity to regularly communicate with their constituents through what are called “householders.”
“My office, at the beginning of August this year, submitted a householder with a request it be printed and mailed by the Printing and Mailing Services (PAMS) of the House of Commons and the request was accepted for processing shortly thereafter.
“It was anticipated that the householder would have been completed and mailed in August by PAMS. However, due to the high volume of print material requests for PAMS, there was a significant backlog.”
Sidhu went on to write that PAMS delivered the completed householder to Canada Post for mailing prior to the election being called.
“All rules and regulations were followed in the process and my office had no control over the print or delivery schedules.”
Sidhu then took the opportunity to comment on the Conservative campaign.
“Residents had reached out to my office, noting that the local Conservative campaign had taken an unfair advantage over the other political parties, by disregarding the municipal bylaw and putting up their campaign signs well before the election campaign was officially announced,” he wrote.
Wilson said they are aware of one Conservative supporter who put up a sign one or two days before the writ dropped, and they have spoken with the municipality about the issue.