Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is defending his party's decision to send unsolicited texts to Canadians in four provinces, urging them to fill up their vehicles with gas.
Late last week and over the weekend, the party sent messages to people in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan that warned gas prices were set to spike.
Those four provinces refused to put a price on carbon emissions and, as of Monday, have seen the federal government impose a carbon tax of $20 per tonne on them. The price is projected to rise to $50 per tonne by 2022. While the starting rate adds 4.4 cents to the price of a litre of gas, individuals in those four provinces will receive income tax rebates, averaging between $248 to $598, to offset costs.
Though Conservatives pulled contact information from their own database of supporters, CTV and CBC News reported the party used software that generates numbers at random based on provincial area codes.
The messages also promoted a Conservative party petition against the carbon pricing plan.
'All the rules were followed': Scheer
Speaking to reporters in New Brunswick Monday, Scheer said Canadians shouldn't be concerned about how the phone numbers were used.
"I can assure you that all the rules were followed as it relates to communicating with Canadians on that," he said. "It was a helpful tool to remind people in the four provinces that are going to be paying this tax that they had one final opportunity to fill up the tank before the cost of gas went up."
The Tory leader said the party received "very positive feedback" from people who appreciated the reminder, saying the mass-texting campaign was an "innovative" way to communicate directly with Canadians.
Some Canadians took to social media to complain that they received a text — attributed to either Scheer or someone named "Mary" — when they did not sign up for such a service. Many shared screengrabs of their responses.
And it seems the messages reached current Liberal MPs who are not receptive to Scheer's perspective on carbon pricing.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who represents the riding of Ottawa Centre, shared a screengrab of a text Thursday.
"Stop spamming people, Andrew Scheer, and start working on climate plan," she wrote.
Manitoba MPs Dan Vandal and Terry Duguid expressed similar sentiments.
"Please go away Andrew Scheer (and) remove me from your list," Vandal tweeted.
Stop spamming Canadians, Andrew Scheer. #Youhavenoplan to protect our environment. It's been 333 days & counting — we're still waiting for you to (a) admit climate change is the most pressing issue of our time; (b) come up with a climate plan to fight pollution. pic.twitter.com/2e88HlOUE9
— Terry Duguid (@TerryDuguid) March 28, 2019
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