Municipal Election 2018

Anti-LRT Candidate Accidentally Emails Secret Plan

It appears Ward 1 candidate Carol Lazich accidentally blind-copied the other candidates on an email detailing her plan to have anti-LRT material distributed through an intermediary.

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 24, 2018

Anti-LRT activist and Ward 1 candidate Carol Lazich appears to have accidentally emailed every other municipal candidate with a secret plan to have an associate distribute anti-LRT propaganda to the candidates.

Screenshot of email with recipient name redacted
Screenshot of email with recipient name redacted

Lazich is the leader of the "No LRT Hamilton" group and has a long history of circulating false and misleading claims to undermine the LRT project. An email was sent out from c.lazich1@gmail.com on Friday, August 10, 2018 at 8:26 PM to another anti-LRT activist who works at a print shop.

The email was a request to "send out some NO LRT info" to "a master list of all candidates" once the anti-LRT material is ready. The email also ordered the recipient to remove Lazich's name from the material before sending it out: "You will need to delete my name from this email as this CAN NOT come from me as otherwise I am screwed!!"

However, instead of sending the list of candidates to the recipient, Lazich seems to have accidentally pasted the list of candidates into the BCC field of the email, blind-copying it to everyone.

Email Looks Authentic

Raise the Hammer received independent confirmation from several other candidates who received the email. A review of the full email headers confirms that the email address is an authentic Gmail address coming from Google's email server and was not spoofed.

Further careful investigation has determined that the address that sent this email is definitively linked to other known email and telephone contacts for Lazich.

In terms of the email itself, the informal writing style, non-standard contractions (like "rcfm" for "reconfirm") and idiosyncratic use of punctuation and capitalization is entirely consistent with other samples of Lazich's email writing that RTH has reviewed. Even the use of "Misc" as the subject line exactly matches previous emails from Lazich.

RTH has sent multiple requests for comment to Lazich via emails and social media, including most recently an email that included a draft of this article. Lazich has not responded to any requests for comment.

If this is a hoax, it is an extraordinarily elaborate and sophisticated hoax without any clear objective. The overwhelmingly most likely conclusion is that the email is genuine, especially given the total silence from Lazich since the email went out.

Possible Campaign Violation

Lazich coordinating the printing and dissemination of materials to other candidates may be a violation of the Municipal Elections Act, either as an unreported donation or as undeclared third-party advertising.

Lazich is also a registered lobbyist with the City, and it is not immediately clear whether lobbying municipal candidates - including incumbent councillors running for re-election - would need to be reported lobbying activity under the city's Lobbyist By-Law.

History of Email Trouble

This would not be the first time Lazich has had trouble with email. She had a practice of sending out unsolicited email blasts to a distribution list of hundreds of recipients in June, July and August 2016 that were filled with false and misleading claims.

Even though several recipients responded with objections and even line-by-line fact-checks, Lazich continued to repeat the same claims over and over again. She also persisted in sending out unsolicited emails, even after several people replied-all asking her to stop spamming them.

In March 2017, Council received a shocking letter from a Theodore Sares, owner of the @nohamiltonlrt Twitter account and a prominent anti-LRT activist, apologizing for his role in an anti-LRT Campaign whose "tactics were always along the 'Trump lines'".

An actual meme circulated on the 'No LRT Hamilton' Facebook group
An actual meme circulated on the 'No LRT Hamilton' Facebook group

He wrote that the campaign's goal was "to stir up as much fear and doubt about this project as possible, to always talk about 'cost' and taxes and damage to the downtown." His letter continued, "There is a lot of 'scheming' to try and disrupt the project and create controversy."

That email also alleged secret collaboration to undermine LRT between Lazich and then-Councillor Donna Skelly (now the MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook), which Skelly admitted in a March 25, 2017 interview on AM 900 CHML.

It seems clear from this latest email blast that the same activities are still underway.

False and Misleading Claims

The anti-LRT campaign as a whole has been a depressing swamp of false and misleading claims propelled by cynicism and civic self-loathing.

Recurring theme in Spectator letters to the editor
Recurring theme in Spectator letters to the editor

When Lazich made a delegation to councillors in March 2017, she actually compared LRT to AIDS and SARS, deadly infectious diseases that have killed millions of people.

Text of Email

Following is the text of the accidental email with the recipient's name redacted:

From: Carol Lazich
Date: Fri, Aug 10, 2018 8:26 PM
Subject: Misc

Hey Jen!I am sending you this master list of all candidates as we need you to send out some NO LRT info including the new "flyer/postacrd " when it is final ok?? You will need to delete my name from this email as this CAN NOT come from me as otherwise I am screwed!! and since Cheryl is taking care of tweeting she suggested you might be willing to do this for us?? Pls rcfm ok?? I can provide you with the info once we have it cfmd ok??
Thanks very much

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted August 24, 2018 at 11:27:52

1 (1) In this Act,

“third party advertisement” means an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing,

(a) a candidate, or

(b) a “yes” or “no” answer to a question referred to in subsection 8 (1), (2) or (3),

but does not include an advertisement by or under the direction of a candidate or an advertisement described in subsection (2) or (2.1); (“publicité de tiers)


Third party advertisements 88.4 (1) No individual, corporation or trade union shall incur expenses for a third party advertisement that appears during the restricted period for third party advertisements unless the individual, corporation or trade union is a registered third party under section 88.6 when the expenses are incurred and when the advertisement appears. 2016, c. 15, s. 48.


88.6 (6) For greater certainty, third party advertisements shall not be under the direction of a candidate whose nomination has been filed under section 33. 2016, c. 15, s. 49.


88.8

Who cannot contribute (4) For greater certainty, and without limiting the generality of subsection (3), the following persons and entities shall not make a contribution:

  1. A federal political party registered under the Canada Elections Act (Canada) or any federal constituency association or registered candidate at a federal election endorsed by that party.

  2. A provincial political party, constituency association, registered candidate or leadership contestant registered under the Election Finances Act.

  3. A corporation that carries on business in Ontario.

  4. A trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario.

  5. The Crown in right of Canada or Ontario, a municipality or a local board. 2016, c. 15, s. 51.


What constitutes a contribution For an election campaign 88.15 (1) For the purposes of this Act, money, goods and services given to and accepted by a person for his or her election campaign, or given to and accepted by another person who is acting under the person’s direction, are contributions. 2016, c. 15, s. 53 (1).

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted August 24, 2018 at 11:30:19

Looking forward to the new flyer/postcard and if you do come across one, please hang on to it!

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By positive1@cogeco.ca (registered) | Posted August 24, 2018 at 18:34:17

I hate to use the term 'fake news' but if ever there was a textbook case of it, this is the real deal. This embarrassing e-mail gaf clearly exposes Ms Lazich's (and her minions) complete lack of credible and cogent arguments against the LRT. Rational debate is fine, and there may be several points to debate. However, when you have nothing in your quiver, you end up shooting blanks with 'big & tall' claims full of sound and fury and signifying ... precisely - nothing. I really can't understand the objections of this person considering (if only for selfish reasons) a major LRT stop planned for Queen & King is a mere 350m east of their store - a brief, 4 min walk for those in reasonable shape (another, at Dundurn & King is 500 m west - a doable 6 min jaunt). You can't get much better commercial real estate than being bang - right on the LRT line. When 120 people disembark from a single LRT car every few minutes (and in rush hour, several cars may be lashed together), having at least some of those people walk right past your storefront can't be all bad.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 25, 2018 at 21:48:52

It's amazing that a simple copy-and-paste misclick can do this.

The way GMAIL works is that if you've copied and pasted a whole Word document full of email addresses. It will successfully convert to a full "Bcc" list if you accidentally put the cursor in the "Bcc" field -- instead of the email body editor -- before pasting.

It's actually a surprisingly easy single-click error that turns a privately emailed list, into a broadcast email.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted August 27, 2018 at 22:48:00

A few months ago, I spoke to a representative of the "No LRT Hamilton " group when I was in Hamilton seeing a new client. I was astounded at the sheer amount false statements that this person spewed out in the brief period that we spoke. I tried to listened politely to this individual but I had to stop him mid sentence. I informed him that, much of what he said was just plain wrong. Having worked in the public transportation planning sector as well as the mainline railway community most of my professional life, I informed the individual that many of his statements were not only mistaken or taken completely out of proper context but comically wrong! In fact, most of his points could be easily fact-checked by anyone on the internet. He really didn't like what I told him about both Ottawa's and more importantly Waterloo Region's LRT Lines were capable of doing vs. buses and BRT. If they are able to convince people to turn away from the B-Line LRT at this stage, I feel very nervous about Hamilton's future.

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