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New NDP MLA says BC United used Red Cross donation form for data mining

At the very least, a reminder to watch what you click online.

parmar, falcon
BC NDP MLA Ravi Parmar (left) and BC United Leader Kevin Falcon. [Composite - Island Social Trends]

Saturday August 26, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC

Political analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Raw political fist-fighting was something of a spectacle on social media on Friday.

BC NDP MLA Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca) was pointing out that the BC United opposition party was enabled on a Red Cross fundraising micro site to receive donor contact information.

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon had posted in social media on Thursday: “BC is facing devastating fires, displacing families with little warning. Join us in supporting relief efforts by donating to @redcrosscanada. Your contributions help immediate and ongoing relief, recovery and resilience efforts.” When clicking through to the Red Cross donation action page, there was a default checkbox providing contact information to the sponsor.

Political data-mining:

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Ravi Parmar, MLA (Langford-Juan de Fuca), Aug 25, 2023. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Parmar pointed out that it was a way of data-mining (gathering donor’s personal information) for the BC United that benefited by the goodwill of people who were donating to help out with wildfire crisis support through the Red Cross.

News reporters were all over it for the day, with a fervour that legislative reporters exhibit with exuberance. It seems like a small thing, but actually sheds light on the intense political rivalry that goes on between the NDP and the BC United (with a long history, given that the BC United were formerly the BC Liberals).

The BC United statement in response to the NDP’s allegations of data mining through Red Cross donations was posted online, saying: “The NDP’s petty partisan attack is incredibly disheartening.” They said the statement re information disclosure is standard practice on all Red Cross micro sites.

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Letter posted in social media on Friday August 25, 2023 by BC United. [Twitter/X]

Perhaps it could be seen as an oversight in the digital process — that BC United was unaware of the contact checkbox option. Or perhaps Red Cross administration didn’t point out that default option of the site. Either way, it does show a bit of slapdash management in busy times.

The Red Cross online donation micro site, as of today (Saturday August 26) does not have a checkbox/selection option for the BC United, but the party name is listed in the left hand column, opposite all the donor interactivity in the right hand column. But the text in the form does say; “On behalf of BC United, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude for your donation.”

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Red Cross online donation page sponsored by the BC United political party. [Screenshot Aug 26, 2023]

Digital reminder:

For most British Columbians it might be a reminder to be attentive to what we select and do during online interactions — what are we giving permissions to.

Political stuff:

For one lone MLA to speak out about the apparent political data-mining does seem a bit surprising, rather than the statement coming from the BC NDP party itself. BC United Leader Kevin Falcon has asked for an apology. It will be interesting to see how and if Premier David Eby smooths over the ruffled feathers in the coming days.

back to school, monk

Over the past years, Parmar has clearly articulated his angst about the former BC Liberals. In his recent by-election campaign to become MLA he retold his story about how the BC Liberals (and then Health Minister Kevin Falcon) were responsible for his parents losing their jobs when areas of health-care support jobs were dropped from government payroll and shifted to contract work, which led many employees and their families onto a path of financial insecurity.

The BC United Party is relatively new (by name), as it continues rebranding itself after being the former BC Liberals (who held government for 16 years, 2001 to mid-2017).

Parmar’s new job:

Since being sworn in as a new MLA last month following the June 24 by-election in Langford-Juan de Fuca, Ravi Parmar has been out and about in all directions with various government ministers and at a wide range of community events.

Earlier in the day yesterday August 25, Parmar had helped relaunch the BC Demographic Survey, in a formal BC Government news announcement in downtown Victoria alongside Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare.



Island Social Trends editor Mary P Brooke has been covering news of the south Vancouver Island region and BC politics since 2008, through a series of publications: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and now Island Social Trends (mid-2020 to present).

mary p brooke, headshot, july 2023
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke,

News is posted at IslandSocialTrends.ca .


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===== RELATED:

BC Demographic Survey extended to Oct 15 (August 25, 2023)

Two new MLAs sworn in at BC Legislature (July 28, 2023)

Ravi Parmar to be sworn in as MLA on July 28 (July 12, 2023)

Parmar picks up the Horgan torch in Langford-Juan de Fuca (June 24, 2023)