Who Is Behind "Non-Partisan" Anti-Doug Ford Website In Toronto?
You may have heard of a new “guerrilla website” taking aim at Ontario's alternative to Kathleen Wynne, Doug Ford. It has been described by media as grassroots but, in this day and age, that explanation immediately raises concerns. There are very, very few grassroots creations that get noticed or publicized without some sort of coercion or concerted effort by people belonging to other, well funded organizations or media.
The media reported on the new, mysterious “grassroots” website like this:
The Not Doug organizers, who want to remain anonymous because they all have day jobs, insisted Monday that they are “genuinely just a few concerned citizens that put together our own resources and time to make this campaign happen.”
“We are not affiliated with any political party, union, business, taxpayer group, or interest group otherwise,” the Not Doug team said via email.
“It’s kind of funny seeing people talk about how we look like we’re backed by some greater interest; our campaign was built in hours on a laptop. A staple gun, some design skills and a printer helps, too,” they wrote.
“We encourage and welcome anyone to join us, to challenge us and to have discussions with us. We plan to have a presence at key events and we will be releasing new facts up to the election.”
There is nothing at all wrong with remaining anonymous, but there is most definitely something wrong with claiming to be completely “grassroots”, or claiming to not have any particular special interests or affiliations to other parties, as the group also claims.
There is something on Twitter that may give us the clues we need in determining whether this group and their website are, in fact, “unaffiliated” and not at all interested in seeing any specific party win Ontario's general election this June.
One of the better ways to find out who may be responsible for this so-called unaffiliated, grassroots start-up is to take a gander on Twitter to see who the very first people to “notice” the group's print-off posters posted around Toronto were. Who were these sly individuals who happened to stumble upon this new group's markings and tweet about them online right before the media caught wind?
There is this particular tweet from one, Martin Reis, which appeared on March 21, only two days before the Toronto media began fervently reporting on it. However, allegedly, these early posters were not put out by the official “Not Doug” group, but they seemed to be a precursor:
Now there really is no way to know for sure if Martin Reis, a highly vocal cycling advocate, may have played some part in this new “unaffiliated” group. But there is another tweet that is worthy to note:
When complimented on the posters, Martin Reis replied with a “thank you” and a wink. This could mean absolutely nothing, but his willingness to take credit for the posters is worthy to note.
Another early Toronto bystander who tweeted pictures of the group's posters on March 24, also happens to be an “advocate for active transportation”. He, Sean Marshall, appears to have also attended the exact same cycling protest in Toronto. But first, here is his tweet promoting the new “Not Doug” group:
The cyclist and pedestrian protest was called “Die-In For Safe Streets At City Hall”, and Sean Marshall was in attendance, along with Martin Reis:
Martin Reis photographed the event:
The Not Doug group's official Twitter account also seems to have noticed Sean Marshall, his tweet and many of the replies to it:
All of this is merely speculation, peppered with a few pieces of coincidental and circumstantial evidence at best, but it would be wise to not assume that this new, upstart group that claims to have no agenda (other than to stop Doug Ford) has no other particular goals or affiliations.
If—only hypothetically speaking—both Martin and Sean were indeed involved, we could trace the group's affiliations to Toronto's sometimes militant and very loud pro-cycling crowd. The same crowd that frothed at the mouth with chronic anger during Rob Ford's tenure as mayor and during Doug Ford's failed attempt to succeed his brother.
Dylan Reid, the twitter user who identified our friend Sean Marshall at the cyclist protest, also happens to be the man at the helm of Walk Toronto's twitter account:
Walk Toronto is yet one more militantly anti-Ford “group” or social media entity operating in and around the GTA.
All of this, as I said, is mostly speculation based only on evidence and observations gathered from the public platforms that these users have chosen as their means to attack Doug Ford while advocating for more “active transportation” in Toronto—whatever that may mean. Media has noted that the group has not made any public filings as a third-party organization, but if and when it does, I will be readily available to pick it apart.
Even if the individuals mentioned here are not associated with this anonymous group, we have a clear glimpse into what types of advocates have been most actively and zealously promoting the group's work in and around the GTA in their efforts to stop Doug Ford.