Toronto PC candidate comes under fire for hydro meter magnets, campaign ad

In a Twitter post late last month, PC candidate Adam Pham included a photo of one of the magnets on a hydro meter and said, "Don't forget to check your hydro meters for one of these messages.". @AdamPhamPC/Twitter

Parkdale-High Park Progressive Conservative candidate Adam Pham is facing criticism online — as well as a cease-and-desist letter from his Liberal opponent — over some of his campaign advertising tactics.

Several people have spoken out on social media during the campaign, saying they found the candidate’s magnets placed on their hydro meters outside their homes.

“Hydro One CEO salary for 2017 is $6.2 million. Kathleen Wynne & [Liberal candidate] Nadia Guerrera think YOU should PAY his salary with your hydro bill,” the red magnets state.
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Ronni Hannon, a resident in the riding, said it made her upset to find the magnet, which for some time she didn’t even know had been placed on her hydro meter.

“I’m concerned about the fact that it just seems this is like an inappropriate way to be campaigning,” she said in an interview.

She posted about it on Reddit on Wednesday, saying, “Found this on my meter today. Is this legal? Adam Pham and his team seem to have taken this election to new lows.”

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Pham is campaigning on the PC promise to fire the CEO of Hydro One and lower hydro bills by 12 per cent — commitments that are outlined on the reverse side of the magnet.

In a Twitter post late last month, Pham included a photo of one of the magnets on a hydro meter and said, “Don’t forget to check your hydro meters for one of these messages.”

A spokesman for Pham’s campaign was reached on Wednesday but did not provide comment on this story by deadline.

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On Pham’s public Facebook page, however, someone identified as a campaign volunteer called the tactic “imaginative” on Wednesday.

“It is not illegal. Prior to rolling out this imaginative way of communicating about the Liberal government’s failure at fixing the Hydro mess, our team sought legal advice,” the post stated. “Some people have told us they feel it is ‘almost criminal’ to pay someone $6.2 million per year when other CEOs are earning much less.”

Toronto Hydro said they have confirmed that the magnets will not interfere with the operation of the meters.

“However, as the meters are owned by Toronto Hydro, under the terms of our Conditions of Service, no foreign objects should be placed on the meter,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

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Liberal candidate complains about ‘Liberals for Adam Pham’

Nadia Guerrera, the Liberal candidate for the riding, accused her opponent of disrespecting voters and the election process.

“I’m ready to get to work on what actually matters to the people of Parkdale-High Park, and I look forward to representing them at Queen’s Park,” she said in a statement.

On Wednesday, her campaign said it served a cease-and-desist letter to Pham and a complaint to Elections Ontario in reference to another ad apparently distributed by his campaign.

The ad, which features the text “Liberals for Adam Pham” encouraged Liberal supporters to strategically vote for the PCs to avoid an NDP government.

“We are Liberal voters asking our fellow Liberal voters to vote for Adam Pham in just this one election,” the ad states, according to photos posted online.

The letter from Guerrera’s lawyer claimed the ad is misleading and deliberately intended to look like correspondence from the Liberal camp. The postcard, however, does say the message is authorized by the CFO for Adam Pham’s campaign.

The letter called for a retraction and apology.

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“Quite apart from its defamatory content and presentation, these types of ‘dirty tricks’ have no place in Ontario politics,” the letter stated.

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The ad was also the subject of complaints on social media. One commenter on Pham’s Facebook page said he wanted an explanation.

“Adam! Buddy! What’s this all about from my mailbox? So confused!” he stated.

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