Canvassers extend reach in recall campaign

Oak Bay woman found at her daughter’s home in Saanich

When she opened the front door, Ann Patterson was surprised to find a recall campaign canvasser looking for her. After all, she wasn’t even in her own home.

“I thought he was canvassing for the Fight HST campaign,” she said. “I told him I signed when (Bill) Vander Zalm had his troops down at the Delta (Ocean Pointe hotel).”

The canvasser had tracked the Oak Bay resident to her daughter’s Saanich home where she had been staying temporarily. He wanted her to sign a petition to recall Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong.

And while Patterson admits Chong’s spending raised her eyebrows – the MLA claimed nearly $6,000 for meals in 2009 – she also wasn’t impressed with some things the canvasser had to say.

After she asked who recall campaign organizers were trying to track down, Patterson said the canvasser told her they even take note of voters have died since the last election.

“I said ‘that’s silly, you can’t get a deceased person to sign.’” Patterson said she was shocked when the canvasser told her they just put an ‘X’ to indicate a signature for a deceased voter. “That just smacks of being fraudulent.”

Michael Hayes is spokesperson for the recall campaign that began targeting Chong almost two months ago.

He said signing for deceased voters is “absolutely not” allowed.

“On our record sheets, if a canvasser knocked on a door and learned that one of the registered voters at that residence had died since May 2009, the canvasser would circle ‘moved’ and may include a side note,” he said in an e-mail. Hayes added that there must have been a misunderstanding between Patterson and the canvasser.

While Patterson said it was a mystery how the canvasser found her at her daughter’s, Hayes praised his canvassers, saying they showed “amazing tenacity and ingenuity.”

Just two days before the campaign deadline, the petition to recall Chong is thousands of verified signatures short of the 15,368 required to force a byelection in the riding. The total stood at just over 8,000 to start the week.

“Every signature sends a message to government that the people of B.C. … want to see a change in the way politics are practiced in the province,” Hayes said.

vmoreau@oakbaynews.com