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Patterson provided signature to Leitch campaign: emails

Morgan Ian Adams

COLLINGWOOD - A candidate for the Conservative nomination in Simcoe-Grey says she had the OK - with a signature in hand - from Simcoe County's warden to prepare an endorsement letter with his autograph.

On Wednesday night, Kellie Leitch provided QMI Agency with a series of emails from Cal Patterson, who is also mayor of Wasaga Beach, in which Patterson approves a quote that was later used on Leitch's website and indicates his support to co-sign an endorsement letter.

The emails also indicate Patterson agreed to provide his signature for the letter, and include an email from administrative staff at Simcoe County with a scan of his John Hancock.

On Monday, in an interview with the QMI and on a local radio station, Patterson said he was "furious" when a letter enthusiastically endorsing Dr. Kellie Leitch showed up at his door late last week - signed by him.

The letter was sent out to Conservative Party supporters in the riding.

Leitch says it was a mistake to send the letter out to party members before being approved by Patterson; she said she thought her assistant had sent it to Patterson for approval, while her assistant thought Leitch had sent it.

According to the email chronology, Leitch asks Patterson to co-sign a cover letter that was to go out with another campaign piece containing quotes from local, well-known party supporters, and Conservative Members of Parliament and Senators.

In response to an email from Leitch that includes the 'quote' to be used, as well as a request to co-sign a letter with either federal ministers John Baird or Jim Flaherty, Patterson responds, "I do support the quote and the endorsement. I will be glad to sign the cover letter."

In a later email, after Leitch requests an electronic copy of his signature, Patterson says he will get a staff member at his county office to forward one the next day.

The letter is dated Jan. 7; Leitch says the letters were mailed on the 10th.

Leitch has stated on several occasions this week that she takes full responsibility for the "miscommunication.

"I take the responsibility for not sending the letter (to Patterson for approval)," she told QMI on Wednesday night. "When the campaign received his signature, the decision was made to move forward.

"There was an error in the office, and I take full responsibility... I truly thought the letter had been sent," she said.

Leitch acknowledged part of the issue may have been the letter is signed by Patterson as warden and mayor.

"There was no malicious intent, and where our error is, is we didn't do our due diligence... we didn't understand that may not have how he viewed it to go out."

On Monday in an interview with the QMI, Patterson said it's inappropriate that anything would go out using his name and political titles as endorsing anyone, and "that's why I've asked her to withdraw it.

"It's very careless, selfish... somebody in her campaign must have written it and passed it by (Leitch)," he told QMI Agency on Monday afternoon. "I was shocked when I got it.

"As soon as I saw it, I e-mailed her and told her she did not have my permission to do this."

Patterson has been contacted for comment by QMI.

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