Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Erin O’Toole speaks during the English debate in Toronto on Thursday, June 18, 2020. A Conserative MP from Calgary has fired a summer student working in his office in connection with allegations that someone stole campaign data from party leadership contender O’Toole. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Tory MP fires student after allegation of theft from O’Toole campaign

Student allegedly downloaded campaign information, passed some of that along to the MacKay campaign

A Conservative MP from Calgary has fired a summer student working in his office following allegations that someone stole campaign data from party leadership contender Erin O’Toole.

Greg McLean — one of dozens of MPs who have endorsed O’Toole — made the announcement in a terse statement Tuesday morning.

“Upon learning of a breach of trust involving a summer student in my office, I immediately took action and the individual was terminated,” McLean said.

“This matter is entirely regrettable.”

McLean’s office confirmed the firing was in connection with allegations by the O’Toole campaign that first surfaced publicly late Friday night: that rival Peter MacKay’s campaign hacked into a trove of confidential campaign information and broke the law.

The MacKay campaign has denied the allegations and said Tuesday the fact that an MP’s summer student was involved raises new questions about whether O’Toole’s campaign is improperly using House of Commons resources on his leadership bid.

READ MORE: Peter MacKay campaign dismisses O’Toole team’s theft allegation

O’Toole had previously been scrutinized for using his parliamentary email address to facilitate campaign endorsements, as has one of his supporters, Sen. Leo Housakos.

“Given Mr. McLean’s statement today, this is looking more like a story of the O’Toole campaign’s negligence rather than the sinister attack on their internal information they are trying to allege,” MacKay campaign spokesman Jordan Paquet said in an email.

“The only leaks seem to be from inside the O’Toole campaign so, as we’ve said before, they might be better off talking to their volunteers and staff rather than using police resources for their campaign’s benefit.”

The RCMP and the Toronto Police have acknowledged receipt of a complaint from the O’Toole team.

“An investigation into mischief in relation to data is ongoing and we are working with colleagues from the RCMP,” Toronto police Const. Michelle Flannery said in an email Tuesday.

A copy of the June 19 letter sent by the O’Toole campaign to police was obtained by The Canadian Press.

The letter was partially redacted, with the covered-up portions including the detail that the original source of the alleged hack was traced to a student working in an MP’s office.

After McLean issued his statement Tuesday, the O’Toole campaign confirmed a student had been involved but had no comment on McLean’s decision to let a person go.

The campaign alleges the student got access to the log-in data for the O’Toole campaign’s Zoom account, the digital conferencing platform in widespread use due to the physical distancing requirements of COVID-19.

The student allegedly downloaded campaign information, passed some of that along to the MacKay campaign and then shared the log-in information itself with that team.

Though O’Toole’s campaign redacted the identity of the student in their complaint, they did name one of the senior MacKay people they allege was on the receiving end of the information: Alberta organizer Jamie Lall.

After news broke of the allegations, Lall posted a message on Twitter saying not a word of it was true. He did not return a request for comment on Tuesday. The MacKay campaign says he remains a volunteer.

O’Toole’s campaign would not say on the record why they named Lall but not the student.

MacKay could also face sanction from the Conservative Party should the allegations be verified.

Each candidate must pay a $100,000 compliance deposit to enter the race, and the party reserves the right to subtract fines if they take any actions deemed in conflict with the leadership race rules.

The O’Toole campaign said while it had provided a summary of the issue to the leadership organizing committee, the issue is far more serious than an internal party matter.

“In the era of campaigning during COVID-19, our campaign office exists online. Our boardroom is Zoom. So many of our internal meetings, strategy sessions, etc. take place in that boardroom” said Melanie Paradis, a spokesperson for the campaign.

“This is the 2020 equivalent of breaking into the campaign office and bugging the boardroom. “

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Traffic violators caught and charged by RCMP throughout June

Canim Lake the scene of many, thankfully, false alarms this month

Williams Lake Stampede Association hosting drive-in movie nights

Fresh Air Cinema, FortisBC are providing the movie nights to communities across B.C.

Take a tour back in time at 150 Mile schoolhouse

Built by local residents in 1896, it served as the community’s only school until 1958

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read