Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tory Turmoil Reaches Cyberspace?

From CTV:

Jack MacLaren, who is seeking the party nomination in the Ottawa-area riding held by longtime Tory Norm Sterling, sent out a campaign email Feb. 10 that contained links that were routed through Hillier's constituency website, the letter said.

Here's Randy Hillier's explanation for these possibly illegal emails:

Hillier's spokesman later said it was a technical mistake by Hillier's web provider, William Ross Solutions, which accidentally routed the links in MacLaren's email through Hillier's account.

The company later apologized in a Feb. 11 email to Hillier, saying it's taken steps to correct the mistake and "prevent it from ever happening again."

This sounds a little dubious to me. How could William Ross Solutions possibly be responsible for where the links in Jack MacLaren's emails go, especially since MacLaren's official email account is through these guys (NorthWind Wireless)? Presumably, any "routing" of links would be done at the author's end, by the author, no? And, as a corollary, if the links went through Hillier's website, this would be via Randy's say-so, or not. Perhaps some kind of deal was struck between Hillier and MacLaren. Perhaps MacLaren was acting on his own. In either case, its difficult to see how Hiller's website designer should get stuck with the blame.

It may be a coincidence, but this is what the google-cache of the William Ross Solutions "portfolio websites page" looked like on February 9th:

Since then, that page has been replaced by this one. Randy Hillier!

Update here, though the conclusion doesn't change much.


Terrence said...

I'm a little confused about the terminology people are using, maybe because they're not computer savvy.

When we say that MacLaren's email contained links that were "routed" through Hillier's website, do we just mean that the documents/pages that were linked in the email happened to be hosted there?

It's suspicious, I agree, and the provided explanation makes no sense.

I wonder if MacLaren's page was supposed to be hosted somewhere else but for whatever reason was placed on the same server Randy uses? That's the closest I can come to understanding the explanation.

bigcitylib said...

Having looked at the email, what that means is that all the links that should go to Jack's stuff go to Randy's stuff.

As though maybe Jack's email was done from a template that was originally Randy's. Who knows whether Randy approved, but don't know how its his website designers fault. Jack's website seems to have been done by a guy named Iannuzzi (you can google him)

May write about this later.

Terrence said...


Did you publish the email? I can't remember.

So the links in the email point to documents on Randy's server, but were they the _right_ documents? That is, did the links point to Jack's stuff on Randy's server, or Randy's stuff on Randy's server?

bigcitylib said...

Terrence, I will post a screenshot later today.

But no. Where you click on "Like" Jack's facebook page", it takes you to Randy Hillier's facebook page; where you click "Share" jacks site, it takes you to Randy's website. Exactly what might happen if you'd copped some text from Randy (or had been provided by his stafff), and slapped "Jack" over "Randy" without changing the underlying link.

Terrence said...


That sounds like a total screw up to me. Yeah, like a template. Like, "Here's how I'd do it, but don't forget to change the links," and then someone (Jack?) forgets to change the links.

bigcitylib said...

I'm going to have to update this post tomorrow. Looks like the links in question did go through Randy's website and wound up at MacLaren's facebook page and etc. Not what I have suggested to Terrence, which was that it looked like it wound up at Hiller's Facebook page and etc.

And setting up the reroute was done by William Ross Solutions. I'll explain how I know that tomorrow. Not that it has an effect on the main point here. The notion that it all happened accidentally remains very dubious. As noted in an earlier comment--William Ross Solutions do NOT seem to be the folks behind MacLaren's website, so how WRS would wind up helping him do an email blast, and run it in conjunction with Hillier's website without Hillier having given a headsup is the question that needs answering.

But stay tuned.

Terrence said...


The suspense is killing me. What are we talking about here?

Oh, crap! I have an idea now.

Jack sends out an email with links on it, but the urls point to Randy's website for some reason.

And since the email is already out, they get a web guy to redirect the urls to the right place by dropping redirects on Randy's site.

Like if "http://randy/link.php" was supposed to be "http://jack/link.php", you set up randy/link.php to redirect the user's browser to jack/link.php.

I think you could do that with an apache directive, or through php, and maybe even javascript. But at least the latter two methods would be quite noticeable.

It COULD still be a mistake.. and I can see why someone desperate might try to fix it this way.

bigcitylib said...


Send me an email and I can send you the email.

If you click on the links of MacLs email, you go through Hillier's site and then back to Macs stuff. You've got that right. An "accident"? Its not to the front page of Hilliers site; its to an "emailer/link.php" thingy. That appears in the email itself.