Olympia the cat became famous last week for gaining membership into a Canadian political party. The British Columbia Liberal Party admitted Olympia when an online membership application in the cat’s name was filled out and sent with the $10 Canadian membership fee, according to CTV.
This is the first year electronic membership registration and voting are being used in the B.C. Liberal Party’s leadership elections. On Feb. 26, the Liberals will vote between six candidates and the winner will become B.C.’s new premiere – this is similar to a U.S. state governor.
Interest in this political race has swelled membership in the Liberal party by threefold. As of Tuesday, member numbers were at 90,000, according to figures released from the Party, as reported on CTV.
But questions about the legitimacy of all those members abound because of the controversy over the cat’s membership acceptance. After Olympia became a member, other false memberships into the Liberal Party have also been found. Members of a youth hockey team were signed up by a candidate supporter unbeknownst to them, according to CTV.
Fraudulent party memberships are “endemic” to Canadian party politics, said Akaash Maharaj, a University of Toronto political expert in an interview Sunday, reported by CBC.
Maharaj blames the ease of electronic membership signup and calls for greater regulation by the Election Canada committee and provincial counterparts.
The Liberal Party is not releasing membership forms because of privacy issues, so it is still unknown who exactly filled out the form in the cat’s name. Kristy Wawryk owns Olympia and she is also a senior volunteer for leadership candidate Christy Clark. Wawryk’s friend, Joel de Guzman, told CTV that, as a prank, he was the one who registered Olympia. But Clark rival and leadership front-runner George Abbott was also suspected of having ties to the cat membership enrollment.
After the cat was outed as an accepted party member and linked to Clark, the incident was criticized heavily by Abbott, according to CTV. However, Abbott was then linked to a website, Kitties4Christy.com, that mocked Clark and the cat member controversy. CTV found that the website was registered four days prior to when it was found out that the cat was an admitted party member. Bo Chen created the site and works for Campaign Research, a Toronto-based company that now is working for the Abbott campaign. Abbott admitted everything except actually signing up the cat.
Regardless of who registered the cat, once the Liberal Party found out that Olympia wasn’t human, her membership was revoked.