Skip to main content

Australian political strategist and Conservative Party election campaign consultant, Lynton Crosby, arrives at Downing Street in London on March 30, 2015.

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

The independent watchdog who enforces Canada's election laws says there's nothing wrong with the Conservative party employing the services of controversial Australian campaign fixer Lynton Crosby.

The Canada Elections Act specifies that it is illegal for anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to "in any way induce electors" to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.

But a spokeswoman for the commissioner of elections says providing advice to a campaign or working for a campaign is not considered inducement.

Story continues below advertisement

The Conservatives confirmed Thursday that Crosby has been helping Stephen Harper's campaign team since March — primarily doing analysis of polling data — and continues to do so.

Lynton has been dubbed the "Wizard of Oz" for his role masterminding four consecutive election victories for former Australian prime minister John Howard and British Prime Minister David Cameron's re-election earlier this year.

But he's also been described in less flattering terms as "a master of the dark political arts" and the "master of dog-whistle politics" — a reputation New Democrats are using to try to scare up donations to their party.

In a fundraising email blast to supporters Friday, the NDP referred to Crosby as an "evil genius" and "an ultra-right-wing political strategist from Australia."

"He has a long record of helping Conservatives win around the world and now he's set his sights on our election. The Conservatives really will do anything to win — we can't let them," says the email.

"Stephen Harper's friends have played dirty in each of the last three elections. This one will be no exception."

Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer and political commentator, agreed with that assessment.

Story continues below advertisement

Employing Crosby "shows Harper is desperate," Barns said in an email to The Canadian Press. "Why? Because Crosby has one strategy only and it is scare campaigns. Appeals to insecure voters on issues like race."

Barns predicted Crosby will try to paint NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as "soft on migration and crime."

Crosby could not be reached for comment.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, blasted the elections commissioner for "choosing not to enforce the federal elections law by ignoring the intention and spirit of measures in the law." The section of the law barring foreign involvement is titled "non-interference by foreigners" and explicitly says a foreigner may not "in any way" try to influence voters, he noted.

But Conservative incumbent Jacques Gourde said there's nothing unusual in hiring the services of an outside adviser.

"When we're talking about political mechanics of elections, it's international now," Gourde said in Victoriaville, Que., where Harper had a campaign event Friday.

Story continues below advertisement

"There are advisers everywhere in the world that give advice to many people. Advice is never unwelcome, and it would be applied by people in Canada.

Indeed, Harper's Conservatives have been tapping the wisdom of John Howard's Australian strategists since at least 2006.

Both the NDP and the Liberals have sought advice in the past from U.S. President Barack Obama's strategists.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies