Ontario Proud is a right-wing political advocacy group and third-party advertiser. It was founded by Jeff Ballingall in 2016 as a Facebook page. Ontario Proud offices are located at 36 King Street East in Toronto, Canada.
|Founded||February 13, 2016|
|Type||Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act|
Ontario Proud was founded by Jeff Ballingall, a former political staffer who previously worked for Sun News Network. Ballingall worked in the administration of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, working as a video specialist for the Conservative Caucus and as a communications manager for Jim Prentice. Jeff Ballingall is also the founder of Mobilize Media Group LTD. which promotes media for Ontario Proud. As of August 2018, he has been one-third owner of The Nectarine, a digital news platform. Ballingall also serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of The Post Millennial, a conservative leaning Montreal-based online news website. He founded Conservative victory, a non-profit campaign for advocating Andrew Scheer’s removal as Conservaitve Party leader and having a leadership race with Kory Tencyke and John Reynolds. They claimed victory after Scheer resigned. The director is currently Ryan O’Connor. Nicolas Spoke is also a current company officer.
Ontario Proud was active during the 2018 Ontario provincial elections, attacking liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, later shifting its focus to NDP candidate Andrea Horwath as the NDP rose in the polls. The group spent approximately $60,000 on television ads and engaged in door-to-door canvasing. The group is reportedly very active in social media marketing, particularly on Facebook, where it used microtargeting.
Ontario Proud may have helped defeat Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government in Ontario. In the lead up to the election, Ballingall boasted that “Ontario Proud's Facebook content was viewed almost 67 million times — more interactions than the Facebook pages of the three main parties, their leaders, the unions and all other political advocacy groups combined.” Ontario Proud has been criticized for blocking users who comment on their Facebook page in support of NDP or Liberal candidates. Ontario Proud has also frequently threatened legal action against critics.
The group has announced its intentions to target Prime Minister Justin Trudeau going forward. Jeff Ballingall established a similar "BC Proud" Facebook page to target elections in British Columbia, and is attempting to start another site to target Quebec. Sister pages have also been established in Alberta and New Brunswick. When iPolitics noticed it was sharing negative post of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer after the 2019 election, Ballingall rearfirm the page opposition to Justin Trudeau.
According to Ontario Proud, it is financed by donations from approximately 1,300 Canadian donors. In June 2017, founder Jeff Ballingall stated that Ontario Proud had cost $5,000 to that point. By April 2018 Ontario Proud was appealing for funding from various business groups including members of the Ontario General Contractors Association (OCGA). A cached copy of the fundraising appeal that was posted on the OCGA website showed that Ontario Proud was looking for up to $700,000 to fully fund its election strategy. While the OCGA encourages its members to be politically active, a spokesperson for the organization stated that OCGA itself has never donated to Ontario Proud. On December 11, 2018 financial disclosures showed that, of the over half million dollars of funding that Ontario Proud received, the majority ($460,000) had come from corporate donations. Out of the corporate donations over 89 percent of them came from companies involved in the development and construction industries. The five largest donations were from: Mattamy Homes ($100,000), Merit Ontario ($50,000), Nashville Developments ($50,000), Opportunities Asia Ltd. ($30,000),and Shiplake Properties Limited ($25,000). Seventeen other companies, mostly related to housing development, also donated $10,000 each.
- Hauen, Jack (June 5, 2018). "Who is Ontario Proud and why is it texting you?". The Globe and Mail.
- Ontario Proud. "Ontario Proud". Facebook. Archived from the original on June 17, 2018. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
Started on February 26, 2016
- "Ontario Proud". Ontario Proud. April 9, 2018. Archived from the original on June 17, 2018.
Airing the ads will be the first foray into traditional media for Ontario Proud, which began in February 2016 as a single Facebook page promoting Ontario culture and criticizing the negative impact of the policies of Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberal government on the province as well as immigration, Islam and the LGBT community.
- "ONTARIO PROUD - CANADA". www.companiesofcanada.com. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
- Radwanski, Adam (June 16, 2018). "This lone-wolf operative is shaping Ontario's political discourse". The Globe and Mail.
- Yun, Tom (May 28, 2018). "The two ex-political staffers behind the Ontario election's most digital-savvy outside groups". Maclean's.
- Ballingall, Jeff (2018-08-16). "1/3 owned by me". @JeffBallingall. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- Samphir, Harrison (2019-07-23). "The Post Millennial joins Conservative party's online booster club". NOW Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
- "Prominent Conservatives set up non-profit to campaign for Leader Andrew Scheer's removal". Retrieved 2019-11-28.
- "Conservative group that called on Scheer to resign claims victory". CTVNews. 2019-12-12. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
- Platt, Brian (June 4, 2018). "Ontario Proud, the right-wing Facebook giant in Ontario's election, eyes federal election involvement". National Post.
- Hartshorn, Max; Cain, Patrick (June 5, 2018). "Ontario PCs, and Liberals almost entirely ignored the NDP … until they rose in the polls". Global News.
Starting in early May, the Ontario Proud Facebook page started to publish posts targeting the NDP. Ontario Proud — a conservative site separate from the PC campaign which has 369,000 followers — had traditionally stuck to a steady diet of negative social media memes targeting Kathleen Wynne. It was a change of tactics: For all of 2018 before May 10, 16 posts on Ontario Proud mention the NDP, or just over one a week. Since May 10, there have been 90, or nearly four per day.
- Thompson, Elizabeth (May 7, 2018). "Ontario parties already 'microtargeting' voters online as official campaign start approaches". CBC News.
For example, the pro-Conservative group Ontario Proud has been targeting people who 'like' the Canadian Taxpayers Federation on Facebook with ads saying billions of dollars have been lost in Ontario to government scandals.
- "Ontario Proud's arrival on federal scene renews fears about third party collusion | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
- "Ontario Proud Frequently Threatens Online Critics With Legal Action". www.canadalandshow.com. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- Walsh, Marieke (June 15, 2018). "With Wynne out, Ontario Proud sets its sights on Trudeau". iPolitics.
After fighting Kathleen Wynne and seeing her party swept out of government, an online group that has mastered modern messaging is turning its fire power on Justin Trudeau.
- "Growing Facebook movement turning the tables on Ontario Liberals". CityNews. May 11, 2018.
He also founded a BC Proud Facebook page and is trying to start one in Quebec and possibly spread across the country. He believes this style of election campaigning is the future.
- Nov 15, Charlie Pinkerton Published on; 2019 5:13pm (2019-11-15). "'Proud' pages souring on Scheer?". iPolitics. Retrieved 2019-11-16.
- Crawley, Mike (June 24, 2017). "The most popular political Facebook group in Ontario targets Kathleen Wynne". CBC News.
By contrast, Ontario Proud is working on a shoestring. Ballingall says the venture has cost just $5,000 so far.
- Pressprogress. "Here is Ontario Proud's Top Secret Fundraising Pitch to Big Money Corporate Donors". PressProgress. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
- "Ontario Proud's Election Advertising Was Mostly Funded By Developers". www.canadalandshow.com. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
- "Ontario Proud raised over $500,000 during provincial election campaign | Globalnews.ca". globalnews.ca. 2018-12-11. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- Dec 11, Mike Crawley · CBC News · Posted:; December 11, 2018 5:23 PM ET | Last Updated:. "Ontario Proud's pro-PC election spending was funded by corporate donors | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved 2018-12-14.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)