(WINDSOR, ON) – As previously reported, the City of Windsor entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Canada Post dated on election day, 27 October 2014. It is hard to understand the City’s thought process, but it appears that there may have been an attempt to circumvent the requirements of the Municipal Elections Act to fully disclose all election records not withstanding freedom of information legislation.
“We never did receive all the Canada Post records,” the claimants told The Square. “Additionally, the City achieved their goal in concealing a portion of the Canada Post invoice for voter notification cards.”
There was a third page to an invoice from Canada Post to the City of Windsor that was refused as part of an FOI request regarding Voter Notification Cards (VNC). But, there is also a legal adage that says you can’t do indirectly what you cannot do directly.
During the investigation, Canada Post revealed that the 3rd page was really a credit memo for undelivered VNCs.
The whole credit memo issue is a very sensitive area. “Each time we poked our noses in this issue we were met with resistance and were duly misinformed each time to make us go away,” they said. “The City only fuelled our fire and resolve to uncover the truth by filing a Freedom of Information Request with Canada Post.”
When a request was made to the City to view, and take extracts from, the Canada Post invoice, the claimants say they were provided with a 2-page document that appeared to them to have been altered, with different pages photocopied together and the item weights out of sync. Faced with the possibility that they were being lied to, the investigative team filed the FOI request.
From that point the team was met, during further requests for documents, with delays by the City. The Director of Compliance at Canada Post informed the claimants that an additional 30 days would be needed before the FOI request could be dealt with because 3rd party consultations were needed before they could comply.
In the meantime, the investigative team took a closer look at the VNCs.
- the job number for VNCs didn’t match the Canada Post invoice
- the sequential numbering of the VNCs would not allow the total cards to surpass 142,000 when compared to Windsor postal codes
The investigative team has an audio recording of a telephone conversation where a Canada Post employee confirms that only 142,150 VNCs were mailed and a credit was provided to the City for 5,587 cards that could not be mailed. According to Canada Post policy, all undeliverable mail, for whatever reason, is disposed of by Canada Post.
“The City denied knowing about this credit well into February of this year,” The Square was told. “Well over four months after the election.”
Denials ring hollow considering Canada’s Post’s need to undertake 3rd party consultations regarding the credit memo.
What is more disconcerting is how the official story keeps changing.
“On March 25, we were advised, during four-hour meeting with Windsor Police, that the postal credit was for vote brochures and not voter notification cards,” the claimants say. “This is not what was reported by Canada Post, however WPS only asked the Manager of Elections and didn’t follow up with Canada Post. Moreover, since vote brochures are not addressed mail, the City would not have received a credit for any mail that could not be delivered.”
Either Canada Post is not telling the truth or the City of Windsor has successfully concealed what is suppose to be publicly available and unobstructed information.
“Whatever the case may be, we need to inform the City that, if this is indeed obstruction or concealment, this should be put into the hands of the RCMP. Canada’s Access to Information Act sets a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a $10,000 fine for intentionally concealing, destroying, or altering federal records.”