Chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault said Thursday that a final vetting of 13 people chosen for the campaign – athletes, YouTubers and other television and social-media celebrities – turned up some past activities that could be seen as partisan.
“I did not feel that I had the right assurances that were necessary to protect our reputation as an unimpeachable, neutral and non-partisan agency for the election,” Perrault said in an interview.
Perrault’s decision to scrap the influencers campaign comes after sustained criticism of the idea from Conservative MPs, who alleged it was evidence of bias on the part of Elections Canada. They doubted the influencers would be truly non-partisan and charged that any increase in youth voter turnout would largely benefit the Liberals.
Ottawa Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre went so far as to call the independent agency a Liberal “lapdog.”
Perrault declined to comment on those allegations.