Sask. Party database not to be used by MLAs to look up constituents

Sask. Party database not to be used by MLAs to look up constituents

The executive director of the Saskatchewan Party says it is "absolutely inappropriate" for an MLA to look up constituents in the party's database, known as Compass.

Patrick Bundrock said that message is made "very clear" to MLAs and their constituency offices, but has been reinforced in light of an email recently sent by Saskatoon University MLA Eric Olauson to one of his constituents.

At the end of March, an email from Olauson's office was accidentally sent to a constituent who had raised concerns about budget decisions, asking a staffer to "research her in Compass."

​What is Compass?

Compass is a database compiled by the Sask. Party to track its members and supporters. 

Bundrock said people who donate to the party, put up lawn signs, or otherwise indicate they are supportive are tracked in the database.

He said the party can then call on those people for future donations or encourage them to get out the vote during tight elections.

Used for tight races

Sometimes, Bundrock said, non-supporters may make it into Compass as well.

"Some campaigns and constituencies track that during the writ period and some don't," Bundrock said. He said the information might come from lawn signs or comments made on the doorstep or in phone calls. 

He said the information can be useful during tight election races.

"The best example is Saskatoon Westview," Bundrock said. Former NDP leader Cam Broten lost that seat in the 2016 election.

"We knew it was going to be very, very close and we were able to deploy additional resources so that we were able to successfully win the seat," Bundrock said.

Restrictions on access

Bundrock said the database is only to be used for party business and not by MLAs to look up constituents.

He added that Compass is only available to executive members of a constituency and, even then, access is restricted to their own constituency.

He said while Compass tracks donations to the Sask. Party, it does not track donations made to any other political parties.

The Sask. Party also says Compass has nothing in common with a list of "people with NDP connections" kept by the caucus office prior to the 2003 election.

Other parties also maintain databases

Most political parties maintain similar databases, including the Saskatchewan NDP.

John Tzupa, provincial secretary for the party, says the database is critical during elections.

He says it allows party workers to track supporters, as well as those who do not support the party, with information gathered on the phone or at the doorstep.

Like the Sask. Party, Tzupa says the NDP has clear rules about who can access the data and for what purpose.