Common Sense denies accusation by Courtenay candidate

Ronna-Rae Leonard says Comox Valley Common Sense used deceptive practices on its website, and broke a promise.

Courtenay Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard says Comox Valley Common Sense has used deceptive practices on its website, and broken a promise to post her responses to their pre-election survey verbatim.

The website says Leonard did not return the survey when in fact she submitted it before the Nov. 3 deadline. She answered questions simply by stating ‘Please visit’

“Because I don’t know who they are I wanted to control my message,” said Leonard, who is seeking a third consecutive term on council in Saturday’s election. “I didn’t know that they wouldn’t manipulate my responses. In an abundance of caution I said please visit my website. That’s a verbatim response that I expected to see up there, and which was promised when we were given the survey and promised subsequently.”

She was concerned CVCS might take things out of context, noting the survey states it is the property of the group and that it reserves the right to post responses to its website.

CVCS spokesperson John Davis suggests Leonard evaded the survey and employed a “devious attitude” in her response.

“We got about 14 positive responses from candidates that we may or may not have endorsed,” Davis said, noting a few candidates chose not to answer questions directly and asked if the public could be directed to their website. “We contemplated that but decided it was unfair to direct traffic to candidates’ sites if we weren’t going to do it for everybody.”

The CVCS decided to post responses at the same time to prevent candidates from reviewing responses and perhaps adjusting their answers.

“Because a couple of candidates chose to post answers on their own website, we had no control over when it got posted or the content,” Davis said. “Not that the content would have been changed or the questions would have been changed. The issue is it just wasn’t compliant with what we thought was fair process.”

Leonard considers the reasons invalid.

“It’s a slippery slope when you start changing the rules on people,” she said. “We need a nice, open, honest brand of politics here in the Comox Valley, and I’m afraid that’s not what we’re seeing.”