An elderly Quebec man was shocked to find out he was expected to send his Shriners donation to the Conservative Party of Canada.
Lorenzo Sirois, who lives in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, told The Huffington Post Canada he was contacted by the Shriners a few weeks ago asking if he would donate to the Karnak Shrine Circus which is rolling into his hometown later this August.
Sirois gladly pledged $20 and days later received a funding package. As he prepared to write his cheque, he noticed the return envelope was addressed to the Conservative Party of Canada, 1235 Bay Street in Toronto.
Sirois thought something smelled fishy.
“The donation, it was going — I’m not sure how they would have fixed this — but it was going to the Conservatives in Toronto. That’s what I couldn’t explain,” he said in French.
His NDP MP, Robert Aubin, couldn’t explain it either and with the robocall scandal looming in the background, he worried this might be a Conservative plot to dupe constituents.
“Nothing seems to stop the Conservatives when it comes to filling their coffers, but I never thought they would have gone so far as to use the cause of sick children,” Aubin said in the House Monday.
He questioned the close ties the telecommunications firmed hired by Shriners had with Conservative friendly Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), saying there were a lot of “coincidences.”
The Conservative government, however, dismissed the incident. Tory MP Pierre Poilievre said he had no details about the alleged incident but “clearly, there had been administrative errors in this case.”
Sirois, for his part, is unsure the Conservatives were trying to dupe him.
“I don’t know,” Sirois answered. “So many things happen nowadays that I felt I couldn’t rely on this at all.”
“Let’s just say that I started asking myself some questions when I saw that. Why was the money going directly – why was the envelope going directly to the Conservative Party? That was the question I asked myself and that’s why I did not make my donation right away,” he elaborated.
Sirois waited until the Shriners wrote him another letter asking where his donation was and, this time with the right envelope in the package, he sent his cheque and a letter explaining what had happened.
Lise Dero from the Karnak Shriners in Montreal said the company hired iMarketing Solutions, formerly known as Xentel, to help with its fundraising drive.
She said the situation with Sirois was the first she’d heard of an error linked to the Conservative Party.
iMarketing Solutions’ sister branch RMG does well-publicized telemarketing work for the Tories, including work during the last federal election campaign.
iMarketing Solutions' public relations director Leonard Wolstenholme said both companies share the same letter shop where they assemble bulk mailings and it was clearly a simple clerical error.
“It’s obviously a mistake,” he said. “I mean the wrong material was assembled in that package, for some reason, I have no idea why.”