Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers his keynote address to the Conservative convention in Ottawa, Friday June 10, 2011 in Ottawa. Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press
The Conservative Party is reassuring its supporters that a new multi-million-dollar program designed to track voters and party donors is still alive, despite an internal memo earlier this week that reassured riding associations they could return to the old program.
The email says the story reported by CBC News on Wednesday, that the party is scrapping a next-generation donor database program called C-Vote, is not true. CBC News also reported that the party was redeploying the older Constitutent Information Management System, or CIMS.
"While we have no intention of discussing campaign strategy with the CBC or any reporter, we will continue to have the best political technology in the next election as a result of our investments in CIMS and C-Vote," said the email, sent from an anonymous party account.
"As we have said, CIMS will be the primary tool we use in our ridings to fight and win elections, while C-Vote will continue to operate and to provide advanced voter tracking and targeting."
The email doesn't address the reported cost, which CBC News has confirmed is $7.1 million. The email was sent to a narrower group of supporters than the usual fundraising blasts.
Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann, as well as other party officials, refused to respond to repeated requests on Wednesday. Hann didn't respond to an email asking about the latest message.
The memo sent Monday to riding presidents and MPs said CIMS would be redeployed across the country over the next few months.
'We will never again deploy C-Vote'
"Due to strong demand from caucus, our ridings, and database volunteers we will be re-instituting CIMS across the country," Dave Forrestell, the party's acting executive director, said in the memo on Monday.
"To be clear, we will never again deploy C-Vote in our ridings."
"All data that was previously in CIMS or that has been entered into C-Vote will be available to you in CIMS."
The memo came a week and a half ahead of the party's biannual convention in Calgary.
Sources also say the party's national council wasn't aware C-Vote was about to be scrapped, and only found out through the memo.
CBC News has learned Forrestell is no longer the acting executive director of the party. After two months doing the job, Forrestell is leaving for another job.
A source who requested anonymity said the departure was always planned to coincide with the party's convention, and pointed to a long-planned going-away party as proof.
That leaves the party's executive director position vacant.
The party is planning a "detailed information session" on voter tracking, run by its IT department, for the convention. The convention starts on Thursday.