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The Globe and Mail

Joe Volpe turfs campaign worker caught trashing Green pamphlets

A photo taken by a Toronto resident shows Green Party fliers in a trash bin on April 22, 2011.

Orla Hegarty

A Liberal Party volunteer has been dismissed after removing Green Party campaign flyers from mailboxes and replacing them with Liberal materials while door-knocking with Toronto incumbent Joe Volpe.

The actions of an unidentified man canvassing with Mr. Volpe, who has long represented Eglinton-Lawrence, were captured in a series of photographs by a Green Party supporter on Friday.

"The moment that there is an indication that that sort of stuff happens, that's it. I don't engage in, I don't condone, I don't encourage that kind of behaviour," Mr. Volpe said in an interview Monday.

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"The canvasser's no longer with us. End of story."

Despite the dismissal, Green candidate Paul Baker is preparing a complaint to Elections Canada, noting that Mr. Volpe was nearby when the flyers were trashed.

"What I guess disappoints us is that Joe was there. … He may not have been robbing the bank, but it seems he was driving the getaway car," he said. "In our minds, there's no doubt that he was aware."

However, Mr. Volpe said he did not know of the volunteer's actions at the time. "You leapfrog over each other. I go to a door, he goes to another door and another canvasser goes to another door. You work essentially in isolation."

Orla Hegarty, Mr. Baker's volunteer campaign manager who took the photographs, claims that Mr. Volpe also removed Green Party pamphlets from mailboxes and replaced them with Liberal materials. She said she did not manage to photograph him doing so.

"It was just horrifying to me. I couldn't believe I was seeing it," said Ms. Hegarty, a part-time math and statistics college instructor. "They were both going along and removing the flyers."

Mr. Volpe strongly denied that he removed flyers. "I've never done anything like that and for that volunteer to say that is a complete falsity, complete fabrication," he said.

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Ms. Hegarty said she began taking photos after noticing Mr. Volpe's handler throw away a Green flyer that she had distributed in the area earlier on Friday afternoon.

Before leaving, Ms. Hegarty confronted Mr. Volpe and said he responded with a shrug. Mr. Volpe said he was unclear at the time what she was talking about.

Mr. Volpe, who declined to provide the volunteer's name, complained that his campaign has had "all kinds of dirty tricks played on us," including vandalism and theft of signs and harassing phone calls originating from the U.S.

"Now we've got Green Party trying to create another story. Well, we've got a campaign to run and we do it properly," he said.

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