Mysterious websites want Baird, Prentice for leader
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Sunday, November 30, 2008 8:57PM EST
As Prime Minister Stephen Harper battles a political coup from a potential opposition coalition, two mysterious websites suggest -- or are intended to suggest -- that he may also be facing a mutiny from within.
Two websites have gone online in the past three days pushing for a new Conservative leader to replace Harper, with one site supporting Environment Minister Jim Prentice and the other supporting Transport Minister John Baird.
The websites, Conservatives for Prentice and Draft John Baird for Conservative Party Leader allege to be grassroots organizations and are quick to point out that neither is endorsed by the Conservative MPs in question.
A press release was sent out by the John Baird website claiming that it is supported by a "group composed (of) over nearly 100 members from across the country, including two (2) Members of Parliament and one (1) Senator - who have requested (to) remain anonymous."
The website claims to be under the copyright of an organization called Conservatives for Change. The organization does not have a working website.
Both websites are registered under other domains, meaning that their owners cannot be found under a whois.net web search.
A posting from a person claiming to be David Higginbottom, who was Prentice's campaign manager in the last election, said the following on the Prentice website: "It is unfortunate that at a time when Conservatives need to be working together to prevent what is a desperate power play by the opposition to seize control of our democratically elected government, that a site like this would be created."
It has been a hectic few days in Ottawa. The opposition has been wheeling and dealing behind closed doors about forming a coalition government, forcing the Tories to back away from key initiatives first announced in their economic update on Thursday.
The timing of the two websites is probably not a coincidence, but it's not clear if they are legitimate or are simply the work of opposition pranksters.
The Draft John Baird site responded to CTV.ca Sunday night via email saying: "For the time being the identity of the founders is not being made public because of political retaliation concerns within caucus. I am sure you can appreciate the fact that, there would be significant consequences for those members and staff who are involved with this movement.
"The Jim Prentice folks are already doing prep work behind the scenes, so we thought it was prudent to layout some initial groundwork, in hopes Mr. Baird runs."
The website says they plan to launch ads on Facebook and Youtube starting Monday.
Emails and phone calls to the Tory MPs and Higginbottom were not immediately returned Sunday evening.