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Signs of an election
Essa deputy mayor candidate Shawn Bubel says his signs, like the one above, seem to be the only one's targetted by vandalism

Barrie MP Brown stumps in Essa as assistant vie's for deputy's seat

Posted October 5, 2010

The telephone rings in an Essa Township home. It's a recorded message from Patrick Brown, Conservative MP for Barrie, asking the occupant to support Shawn Bubel for deputy mayor.

Mr. Bubel is running against Essa Ward 1 councillor Sandi MacDonald for the position that also includes a seat on Simcoe County council. While both are supporters of the Conservative Party, Mr. Bubel takes it further. He is employed as the MP's constituency assistant.

"I work four days a week and have taken a leave of absence from the MP's office while I am campaigning for deputy mayor," wrote Mr. Bubel in an email reply for this story. "The totality of Patrick Brown's 'involvement' in my campaign was recording a single 40 second voice message sent by my campaign to some of Essa's voters encouraging them to learn more about me by visiting my website and getting out to vote on Oct. 25th."

The calls, he explained, are random and reaching about half the households in Essa.

"I paid a company to collect the phone numbers," wrote Mr. Bubel. "As a candidate, I am within my rights to contact voters by mail or electronically (in this case, through a short voice message). Essa Township covers 280 square kilometers and modern campaigns use tools like this to reach people and alert them to the fact they actually have a choice this election year. In addition, a voice message is an economical way, as well as an environmentally and 'green' friendly way get my message out. A mailer delivering the same message would cost more than thirty times as much and kill an untold number of trees in the process."

Mr. Brown, who lives in Barrie when not in Ottawa representing that city on Parliament Hill, wrote in an email reply for this story, that "Canada is a free country. I am permitted to volunteer in my free time for whomever I please."

"We actually got the voice drop idea from Helena (Guergis). She did a voice drop into Barrie in support of me when I was a city councillor running for MP in 2005, so this wasn't a new thing by any means. I support Shawn. He would be a great public servant."

The Barrie Examiner last month made published references to Mr. Brown's alleged involvement in conjuring up a slate of Conservative supporters to run for city council seats.

"I am not involved in running any slates," he wrote. "If anything the only Conservatives I know running in Barrie seem to be running against each other for municpal council."

The MP does admit that he is supporting Jennifer Robinson, a first-time candidate and former Olympic figure skater who now calls the Barrie region home, for a council seat, "who has no political ties."

Mr. Bubel bristles at the suggestion that he is part of a Brown slate.

"My wife and I have lived in Essa for 12 of the past 16 years. Her parents have been here since 1974. Essa is my home. I alone decided to run in Essa. I did not consult Patrick on it beforehand; he did not urge me in any way shape or form. I have wanted to run for office for many years now. Many, many years before I went to work for Patrick. Anyone who knows me, knows it has always been my intention to run at some point.

I am running a positive campaign focused on building our business tax base, more things for kids and families to do and putting people first by having leadership on the issues that matter to them."

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