The UCP has sent text messages to various potential voters asking who they plan on supporting, while the NDP has asked Albertans whether they support Rachel Notley’s effort to fight for pipelines.
One such text message from the NDP read: “Have you heard the news? Rachel Notley and her caucus have been fighting hard for Alberta’s pipeline jobs. Do you support their actions on the pipeline?”
While voters are given the option to opt out of any further text messages by replying “STOP”, some local voters told the Gazette they're wondering how the political parties had access to their cellphone numbers in the first place.
"I got a text from the UCP ... I didn't answer because it's none of their business, and I found it to be intrusive," said local student Natasha Wurtz.
"I don't like that political parties can have access to our phone numbers, and I expect some level of privacy. I blocked their number afterwards because I know a few people who got multiple texts from the UCP asking the same question.”
Several other residents told the Gazette they found the text messages offensive, wished there was a law against them and said they did not want political parties contacting them.
Canadian law exempts political parties from rules prohibiting unsolicited text messages, as their messages are considered to be in the public interest. Political parties are therefore legally allowed to contact seemingly random numbers.
Wurtz disagrees with the idea that text communication from political parties are in the public interest.
“If I want to communicate with a political party I’m going to do it on my terms. I’ll send an email to someone specific or I’ll reach out through social media," she said.
Many voters’ numbers are added to databases when they support a political party and are considered fair game for parties to use. The UCP uses numbers directly through Elections Alberta, while the NDP used a random number generating computer program.
Voters who have opted out by texting “STOP” but who have continued to receive unwanted text messages can contact the party directly. The party, according to CRTC guidelines, has 14 days to remove them from their contact list.