Cat's 'privacy' protected by BC Liberals
The BC Liberals say they won't release documents that could explain how a cat ended up a party member because they want to protect the cat's personal privacy.
BC Liberal spokesperson Lilian Kim told CTV News that the membership application forms are off limits to the public because it would violate Olympia the cat's privacy rights.
"We don't provide personal information regardless of whether it came from a cat or a person," Kim said on Monday. "It's our policy."
Elections experts ridiculed the Liberal party's position.
"I'm not sure what kind of privacy expectations a cat has in the democratic process," said Akaash Maharaj, who is a public policy expert at the University of Toronto.
The forms would show once and for all whether Olympia was signed up as an innocent prank on her owner, a high-level Liberal volunteer with the Christy Clark campaign, or an attempt at voter fraud.
For the first time, the Liberals are registering and voting for the province's next premier on the internet -- so the cat could have cast a ballot on behalf of someone else, and no one would have known.
Akaash said the potential for fraud has always existed in elections, citing historical examples of parties who have stuffed ballot boxes, or had people vote a number of times in different polling stations under fake names.
In all cases the fraudsters were limited by the physical world. In electronic systems, Akaash said there are no limits, and the fraud potential is massive.
"I can understand why this is an embarrassment to the party. But it would a far greater embarrassment if by refusing to come clean on this subject they inadvertently allowed far greater systemic abuses to occur in the election," he said.
The cat belonged to Kristy Wawryk, who is the Liberal Delta South Riding Association president and a volunteer for leadership candidate Christy Clark. The Clark campaign was mocked in a website by rival George Abbott.
When Wawryk was asked about the cat by the Globe and Mail, she claimed that Olympia was truthfully her great-aunt, who can vote.
CTV News tracked down her real great aunt Marie, who lives in Vancouver.
Wawryk has refused comment since the story broke. The Clark campaign claimed the cat was signed up as a prank by her friend Joel De Guzman. De Guzman also claimed responsibility to CTV News.
But it's the membership application -- and more importantly, who paid the cat's $10 membership fee -- that would establish which of the stories is the truth.
Kim said the Liberal party has dumped the cat from its membership rolls, but it's going to be some time before the party has finished investigating.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward