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I was extremely disappointed to read your story Alleged Tory Internet scheme sparks call for probe by Allan Woods, this morning. The story is not at all indicative of the professionalism that I have come to know and respect in the Post.
Quite the contrary.
This story is extremely biased and full of errors.
While you are certainly right to report on any investigations underway by Elections Canada, I feel I must point out that your story neglects to mention the fact that there are blogrolls for both NDP and Liberal supported (the Blogging Dippers and Progressive Bloggers respectively). There is also Rabble, not a blogroll but certainly a very partisan web community.
If, as your article sugests, Mr. Parks told you that "he was approached by senior Conservative MP Diane Ablonczy in December 2005 after a Tory caucus retreat in British Columbia and asked to head what he described as a pre-election initiative on behalf of the party" and that this initiative was the Blogging Tories blog roll, all I can tell you is that he blatantly lied.
I have been a Blogging Tories member since May 2005.
How would that be possible if the community was established in December, as he suggests in the above quote?
As journalists, you had a responsibility to examine the validity of his claim before printing it in an article. What's more, you also had a responsibility to contact the Blogging Tories founders before suggesting that they were in violation of the Elections Act, something you did not do. Such an unfounded accusation borders on libel, especially given that you did not provide the Blogging Tories founders an opportunity to defend themselves.
Your article goes on to suggest that the Blogging Tories could be in violation of "third-party election financing laws" which "state that it is illegal for a group to spend more than $150,000 during an election period related to a general election. It can also spend no more than $3,000 of that money "to promote or oppose the election of one or more candidates in a given electoral district.""
I have never spent a dime on my blog. Neither have a lot of people. The chances that the entire group has spent anything near $150k since the election campaign started is extremely unlikely. In any case, you did not provide even a shred of evidence for this accusation. Also, as we are spread all over Canada, it is equally unlikely that members have spent anything near $3k in a given area. Setting up a blog roll
is free. Anyone can do it. Just visit http://www.blogrolling.com and create an account.
In the interests of journalistic integrity, I respectfully request that you correct your article to reflect this new information.