Two London councillors who are up for re-election are expressing concern after websites made to look like their own began circulating misleading information.
Coun. Maureen Cassidy says a website created to look like it belonged to her sprung up about a month ago.
Coun. Virginia Ridley has had her own website for several years and she says she learned about the smear website earlier this week.
“I was out having tea with a friend and my phone started dinging and it was someone on Facebook had seen a promoted ad. So someone spent money on ads promoting this website.”
Cassidy echoed that point, noting it’s concerning that this is happening in the shadows.
“Obviously there’s a lot of money behind it because domains cost money, printing election signs costs money, Facebook ads cost money,” she said.
“So somebody’s bankrolling this and that should worry London voters because a shady individual with enough cash trying to influence their vote and influence this election? That’s concerning.”
The websites have both been taking down, but the misinformation posted online included an accusation that Ridley is an unfit mother because she took her youngest child to a budget meeting. Ridley stressed to 980 CFPL that in that case, a meeting was scheduled on a Saturday and at the last minute her child care plans fell through. Since her youngest is on the autism spectrum, she said, getting someone new was out of the question. She added that there were several breaks throughout the day and that her child enjoyed the experience.
Cassidy says she’s heard rumours but wouldn’t speak to unproven allegations, however, both she and Ridley believe the same person is responsible for both websites.
“I expect that the truth will come out and prevail and I expect that that person will be held accountable and take responsibility for their actions,” said Ridley.
Cassidy added that whoever’s behind this made a mistake in going after Ridley.
“I’m more of a stoic type that just, if you’re going to bully me and call me names, then I’ll just take it and I’m not going to engage,” said Cassidy.
“Virginia’s a different kind of fighter than I am. She’s very tenacious, she’s been through some challenging situations during this term of council and she’s never backed down.”
Just this year, Ridley said she received a death threat in an anonymous letter that denounced her push to eliminate caps on the number of vehicle-for-hire licences in the city.
Ridley says she’s asked for information from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority but the city clerk has not launched an official investigation.