Ontario Liberal Party candidate for Markham-Unionville Amanda Collucci manages to get her name into the media effectively this week without incurring any campaign expenditure when it was revealed that her election signs were not showing an affiliation with her party.
Amanda's signs merely say: “Elect Amanda Yeung Collucci: Our Home. Our Future.” It is the same slogan she used in her municipal campaign when she was elected to Markham Council as ward 6 councillor back in 2014. In the social media, discussions and speculations were made about Amanda's intentions and motivations on her election posters.
To comply with the Election Finances Act., there should be an indication of a campaign Financial Officer's authorization to declare the signs are an election expenditure. The posters and lawn signs seemed non-conforming to Section 22(9) of the Act: Information to be included in political advertisement:
（9）A political advertisement in any medium shall name,
（a）the person, registered party, registered constituency association or other organization or entity who is causing it to appear; and
（b）any other person, registered party, registered constituency association or other organization or entity who is sponsoring or paying for it.
仔细观察杨绮清的竞选招牌，人们可以在招牌的右下角看到一行小字，“此招牌由Markham- Unionville选区的PLA的财务官授权摆放”。显然，人们不知道PLA是啥组织。有人调侃道“我们知道PLO是巴勒斯坦解放组织的缩写，PLA是中国人民解放军的缩写，难到是解放军授权的？”显然，杨绮清的招牌中没有提 “自由党”，这与其他自由党候选人的竞选招牌不同。
Upon further examination, one can find a very “tiny” set of fine prints located on the lower right hand corner stating “authorized by the CFO Markham Unionville PLA”. Of course, people questioned the abbreviations “PLA”. An ongoing joke was that “we know what PLO stands for! (Palestine Liberation Army) but PLA? Is that “People's Liberation Army (China)”? The words “Liberal Party” is clearly missing, unlike those materials for all other Liberal candidates that we can locate.
Another concern raised was the use of the term “MPP Markham-Unionville” on the signs. To state that one is “MPP candidate” is fine. Saying herself an MPP is most definitely not. All MPP's cease being MPP's when the writ is dropped. So any candidate saying they're a MPP (though common for incumbents) during the election is a bit of a stretch in technical terms. It is conceivable that complaints have already been filed at Elections Canada for those infractions.
When confronted by reporters, Amanda retorted: “I don't think I need the Liberal logo or the Liberal word to tell people I am a Liberal. The colour red says it all”. This statement is quite a “stretch” as many voters are not familiar with the candidates and would just vote for the party. Granted that “red” is the traditional “Liberal Party” colour, it does not preclude her running as an independent candidate without any party affiliations.
Many residents speculated that Amanda was trying to distant herself from the Liberal Party name since it was struggling in last place in the polls, falling far behind the other two leading parties – PC and NDP. To me, Amanda may simply perceived that she is more popular than the Liberal Party.
More trouble awaits Amanda after this controversy with the election signs. It was reported by another news medium that on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2012, Amanda was posting under Facebook suggesting that it was an inside job. She has since apologized for this comment after this report was published on-line.
In the same report, Amanda was also alleged to have used faked pictures for testimonials while running her own cleaning company before her election to Markham Council. The Liberal Party recently called for the resignation of four candidates on the Progressive Conservative and NDP rosters because of past offensive comments. But the campaign is backing Collucci, calling her a “respected local Councillor”.
The sign strategy deployed by Amanda definitely brought her a whole lot of publicity, albeit very negative ones. Now, the media is acting like a pack of hungry wolves on an injured prey, tearing away at its wounds.
With these unwanted distractions and less than 2 weeks to go before the election day on June 7, Amanda may yet have more difficulties to face on her way to that finishing line.
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