A fake website meant to mimic Calgary's CivicCamp is proving frustrating for candidates, as well as citizens following the upcoming municipal election closely.
"CivicCamp Society" appeared online Tuesday, a blatant knock-off of the website of a non-partisan advocacy group that has been hosting forums and providing candidate information for the upcoming election.
With an almost identical logo and website design, the site is deceptively similar to CivicCamp but is instead led by a group calling into question CivicCamp's lack of traditional financial reporting practices.
According to Fast Forward Magazing, the site was set up by Cory Morgan, a well-known political agitator, whose first move was to post fake letter grades evaluating Calgary's municipal candidates - often assigning progressive incumbents with an F, while conservative candidates got an A.
Morgan also registered CivicCamp Society as a not-for-profit, something Morgan told the Calgary Herald he doesn't consider misappropriation or identity theft, adding the original group has no legal identity.
“In their non-accountability and refusal to set up formally as any sort of organization or group, it left that open for somebody to set up an organization or group.”
In a post today on his personal blog, Morgan elaborated, saying:
"We also registered the society with the Alberta registrar after having had a NUANS search to ensure that the name of the society was not in use. Being registered as a society provides a degree of oversight that protects the members of the society and the public in that a degree of transparency and governance is required under the Societies Act. We wanted to be clear that we are hiding nothing about ourselves."
"Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a group of people presenting their views to people on all levels of government. It is called advocacy and it is an integral part of our democracy. The problem comes when a group of people has such a strong ideological and partisan slant and then tries to present itself innocently as a as an unbiased volunteer organization facilitating election forums at election time. When this sort of disingenuous activity comes from a group of people, folks like me are forced to call bullshit."
However, CivicCamp activist Peter Rishaug told the Herald CivicCamp chose not to register their group when established in 2009, in the hopes of keeping the group's structure non-hierarchical.
“Now to have someone co-opt the name? It’s disappointing, and disparaging to the volunteers who have put in their hard work to make CivicCamp what it is,” Rishaug told the Herald.
Perhaps all is not lost, however. Today the legitimate CivicCamp tweeted a silver lining to their predicament Wednesday.
There are more ppl following us today and becoming members after the spoof website went up. Thank you?— CivicCamp Calgary (@civiccamp) October 16, 2013
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