PSA: Sarah Thomson is not running for city council as a Liberal
The piece of campaign literature pictured to the right was handed to a downtown resident on Saturday by a canvassing crew working for Sarah Thomson, the political candidate who recently withdrew from the mayoral race to run for city council in Ward 20. Thousands of downtown homes are presumably being inundated with exact copies of this flyer, which sends a pretty clear message: Sarah Thomson is the Liberal candidate in this race; vote for her if you want to vote for a Liberal.
But here’s the thing: Sarah Thomson isn’t the Liberal city council candidate in Ward 20. In fact, there are no Liberal city council candidates in all of Ontario, because provincial legislation effectively forbids the formation of political parties at the local level. Nor does Thomson appear to have the Liberals’ informal blessing. Asked about this, Ontario Liberal Party spokesperson Gregory Crone would say only: “The Ontario Liberal Party does not support or endorse any candidate for municipal elections.”
In an email exchange with Toronto Life, Thomson claimed that her only aim with these flyers (which she said she has been using versions of since she entered the mayoral race in March) is to point out her very real past association with the Ontario Liberals, who ran her as an MPP candidate in the 2011 provincial election. (That was before the dreadlocks and all the music videos, though.) “I represent Liberal values, thus I thought it important that I put this on my literature,” Thomson wrote. “We have tried very hard not to be misleading.”
But the flyer doesn’t just mention her Liberal affiliation; it actually mimics the look of Ontario Liberal publicity materials, red background and all, in a way that might be confusing to anyone not wearing their reading glasses. This is especially worrisome in Ward 20, where there’s no incumbent running and all the candidates are relative unknowns, meaning residents will be relying on campaign literature to inform their votes. In that type of low-information environment, a misleading leaflet can make a difference.
So let’s say it again: Sarah Thomson is not running as a Liberal.