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Ontario PCs to pay $85,000 penalty for polls in last provincial election

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Tim Hudak, May 14 2013.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will pay an $85,000 penalty after some of the party's polls during the last provincial election broke CRTC regulations.

The polls, which took place in September 2011, were carried out by RackNine, the Alberta firm at the centre of the federal robocalls scandal, the Tories confirmed.

In some instances, the polls failed to tell voters that they had been commissioned by the PCs, party spokesman Alan Sakach said.

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He said the problem was "an administrative error" on the part of the pollster. The party received no complaints from the public and the CRTC uncovered the problem while investigating a different complaint.

The Tories have agreed to pay the fine and have put in place stricter protocols to ensure such a situation does not happen again, he said.

"All vendors have to meet the CRTC's rules and guidelines and the stringent guidelines of our leader," he said.

When polls are conducted on behalf of the party in future, he said, authorized staff will have to approve them.

The problem polls asked voters who they intended to support in the 2011 election, he said.

RackNine was the company behind robocalls that sent voters in Guelph, Ont. to the wrong polling stations in the 2011 election.

RackNine said at the time it was "shocked" that someone had misused its services to disrupt the election.

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Earlier this year, the CRTC also linked it to a federal Conservative Party poll in Saskatchewan that the opposition alleged was used to drum up anger at riding boundary changes that could disadvantage the Tories in the next federal election.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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