Video of an NDP volunteer, captured by a camera on the door of a Calgary home, shows him removing a UCP flyer from the mailbox and replacing it with his own party’s pamphlet. The video, which was then posted to social media and viewed thousands of times, has prompted the Alberta NDP to condemn the volunteer’s actions.
“We have addressed the matter with this particular volunteer and will be taking steps to ensure all our supporters understand that this is not behaviour we condone in any way,” Roari Richardson, the NDP’s provincial secretary, said in an emailed statement to Global News on Wednesday.
“As New Democrats, we believe that every candidate — from every party — should be free to exchange their ideas with voters,” he added.
“Clearly, the actions shown in this video run counter to that fundamental belief.”
Global News has learned the video that captured the mailbox tampering was taken on Aug. 1.
WATCH: An Alberta NDP volunteer has been caught replacing UCP flyers with NDP ones in the mailbox of a Calgary home. Blake Lough has the details.
In the video, Lesley Doell, who is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Varsity, is seen at the door dropping what appears to be campaign material into the mailbox. The video then cuts to video of a young-looking man with an orange bag. He can be seen removing a blue pamphlet from the mailbox before ringing the doorbell. He then waits for a few seconds before dropping one or more pamphlets in the mailbox. It is not clear how much time lapsed between Doell’s departure and the young man’s arrival.
“Pretty disappointing!” Doell posted on her Facebook page on Monday. “Taking an opponent’s campaign literature from a constituent’s mailbox is never acceptable and damages the integrity of our democratic system.”
Doell said there was about five minutes between when she left the door and the young man arrived.
“He made a mistake,” Doell said while speaking to Global News about the volunteer and his actions. “I don’t know if he was directed by his party to do this or if he did this on his own accord.
“We have limited… spending in these nomination contests… it’s a few cents out of my budget.”
When contacted by Global News, the Calgary Police Service said the incident has not been reported to them but said such a scenario could potentially be considered theft. However, they said it could not be considered mail theft if the flyers weren’t addressed to anyone in particular.
Global News has reached out to the Office of the Election Commissioner for further clarification on whether such an incident may be investigated and what the consequences could be if the office determines any wrongdoing.
Global News has spoken with the Silver Springs-area homeowner whose security camera captured the images and agreed to only identify her by her first name, Diane, due to personal safety concerns.
“I felt a little bit bad about the young guy because I don’t want him to… he did an illegal act, right?” she said on Wednesday. “I mean, he took something out of our mailbox.
“The piece of literature left by the second canvasser, the young fellow, it’s inside our house,” Diane added. “It said… ‘Jason Kenney is not working for you,’ or something like that.”
Diane said she believes the young man made a mistake but she hopes he doesn’t face legal prosecution over the matter.
“I believe [he] should have a talking to about the legalities of taking things out of mailboxes but I don’t think they should be punished under the law, no,” she said. “I kind of have some empathy for young people that are not actually harming people or the public or property.
“He’s not hurting anybody physically, just being overzealous.”
“I expect more I suppose,” Doell said. “As a first-time nomination candidate, I’m starting to realize quickly how competitive politics is.
“I’m very clear with my volunteers that we play by the rules, that we play fair and I would expect the same thing from all nomination candidates and political parties.”
Many prospective candidates for all political parties in Alberta are currently campaigning as the various parties gear up for the next provincial election, which is anticipated to occur next spring.
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