Federal Conservative Party sending ‘unsolicited’ texts to gauge support

Click to play video: 'Federal Conservative party admits to using text messages to drum up support' Federal Conservative party admits to using text messages to drum up support
The Conservative Party is using a controversial tactic to gauge support for their candidates — texting potential supporters – Nov 26, 2018

The federal Conservative Party is kicking it up a notch with campaigning — using technology to try and drum up support for their cause.

Normally, candidates will pound the pavement, knocking on doors, but at least one political party is trying to change how things are done by texting potential supporters.

“It’s annoying to just have this message pop up,” says Jennifer Sommer. She is one of several people who has reached out to Global News to complain about the unsolicited text message.

The text says, “Can the Conservative Party count on your support in the next federal election?”

Conservative candidate Michael Barrett says his party is calling it “virtual door-knocking.”

READ MORE: PC Leader Doug Ford under fire over alleged stolen data

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“They’re sending texts to people and gauging their support, just as they would a phone call,” says Barrett. The candidate is running in the upcoming byelection in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. Barrett says the Conservative Party has started using the method provides them a quick way of finding out whether or not someone supports the party.

“People have the opportunity to respond to that message favourably, or opt out if they choose to do so,” says Barrett.

Sommer, who has never been a supporter of the Conservative Party, didn’t appreciate what she called an invasion of privacy.

“I would like to know how they got my number,” says Sommer. “Why did they feel the need to text all these random people?”

Another woman who received the text — but preferred not to be interviewed — used the opportunity to do a little campaigning back, replying to the message with a Liberal Party of Canada logo and some choice words.

A Kingston resident received a text from the Conservative Party asking for her support.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Unsolicited messages claiming to be from PC party raise privacy concerns

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This isn’t the first time the tactic has been allegedly used for an election.

During the Doug Ford campaign, Global News received complaints from people around Ontario regarding texts alleged to have come from the Ontario PC Party. One person was a 16-year-old in Kingston. The party denied having any part in the text messages.

With the Conservative Party taking up the idea so far, it’s not clear whether more political parties will choose to “tap” into technology instead of pounding the pavement in the next election.

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