A Conservative MP has fired a summer student in connection to allegations from Erin O’Toole that Peter MacKay’s leadership campaign stole confidential information from his competitor.
The complaint sparked a joint investigation with the Toronto Police Service and RCMP national division. Mr. MacKay’s campaign has denied the allegations.
“Upon learning of a breach of trust involving a summer student in my office, I immediately took action and the individual was terminated,” Alberta MP Greg McLean wrote in a brief statement Tuesday.
Mr. McLean’s director of parliamentary affairs, Patrick Cousineau, confirmed the summer student’s firing was connected to the theft allegations levelled by Mr. O’Toole’s campaign.
Mr. Cousineau said the summer student, whose name has not been released, was fired last week.
Mr. McLean is supporting Mr. O’Toole in the leadership race. The O’Toole camp alleges that a staffer in Mr. MacKay’s team obtained confidential log-in information for Mr. O’Toole’s Zoom account and downloaded meeting videos, including internal campaign strategy meetings.
The MacKay campaign said the latest revelation that someone in Mr. McLean’s office is connected to the case makes it look “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.”
”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,” spokesperson Jordan Paquet said Tuesday.
The complaint specifically names Jamie Lall, who Mr. O’Toole’s campaign describes as a senior organizer for Mr. MacKay.
In a Saturday post with laughing emojis, Mr. Lall said on Twitter, “Not a single word of this is true.”
The allegations were made in a statement released late Friday night. It said the campaign had filed a complaint with the Toronto Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP into what it called “the theft of confidential O’Toole campaign data and strategy” by Mr. MacKay’s campaign.
“I can confirm that a report has been made and the incident is being actively investigated,” Detective Shawn Marshall, with the Toronto police, said in a statement to The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.
A subsequent statement from Toronto police described it as a mischief investigation involving data. “We are working with colleagues from the RCMP,” the statement said.
The RCMP’s national division said it is “examining this matter carefully with all available information and will take appropriate actions as required.”
The investigation is the latest twist in the Conservative leadership race, which has already been delayed by the pandemic and featured a candidate’s disqualification, a lawsuit and a libel threat.
The OPP did not confirm whether it is acting on the complaint it received.
On Saturday, Mr. MacKay’s team called it “mildly amusing” to be on the receiving end of the Friday night accusation at the tail end of what they believe was a “bad week for the O’Toole campaign.”
“It is not surprising that this is a tactic being trotted out the same week that Erin O’Toole performed very poorly in the debates in front of party members and Canadians,” the MacKay campaign said in its statement.
The complaint from Mr. O’Toole came after the only scheduled debates of the leadership race, which includes Mr. O’Toole, an Ontario MP and former cabinet minister; Mr. MacKay, a former MP, cabinet minister and co-founder of the modern Conservative party; rookie Ontario MP Derek Sloan; and Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis.
Mr. O’Toole’s team alleges Mr. MacKay’s campaign stole Zoom video conferences, including confidential campaign strategy video conferences and meetings with Conservative Party members.
“The MacKay campaign is not in possession of any such documents, has made no attempt to obtain possession of any such information, and has leaked nothing of the sort,” Mr. Paquet said in a statement.
The campaign said it filed the police report after conducting its own review ”after we discovered our systems were hacked.”
With a report from The Canadian Press
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