IN THE NEWS ~ Dean Del Mastro found guilty in election spending case

Published | Publié: 2014-10-31

Received | Reçu: 2014-11-01 1:33 AM

CBC TV: The National

CBC TV: The National

WENDY MESLEY

Participants: CATHERINE CULLEN, DEAN DEL MAESTRO, CHRIS ALEXANDER, BARRY DEVOLIN, PETER JULIAN, WAYNE EASTER

WENDY MESLEY (HOST):

- MP Dean Del Mastro guilty of breaking election rules. The government's former defender could now go to prison. -

A member of Parliament could be heading to prison. Today an Ontario judge found the prime minister's former parliamentary secretary guilty of breaking the law. Dean Del Mastro spent too much money during the 2008 election and then covered it up. Catherine Cullen has the details and reaction from Ottawa tonight. Catherine?

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): Wendy, not so long ago Dean Del Mastro was a beloved member of the Conservative caucus. Now he's a pariah who might even go to prison. Once the Prime Minister's fiercely loyal guard.

DEAN DEL MAESTRO (FORMER PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO STEPHEN HARPER): (Archives) Baseless smears in this House.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): Dean Del Mastro became an outcast, pleading his innocence.

DEAN DEL MAESTRO (FORMER PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO STEPHEN HARPER): (Archives) Why, Mr. Speaker? Why?

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): Convicted on three counts.

DEAN DEL MAESTRO (ONTARIO INDEPENDENT MP): I'm disappointed. I think, you know, I strongly disagree with today's ruling.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): The judge found that during the 2008 election, Del Mastro wrote a cheque that put him well over the spending limit, falsifying documents to cover it up. What's more, the judge found Del Mastro's testimony in court wasn't credible. "I have concerns about his voracity," said Justice Lisa Cameron, citing a "number of inconsistencies and improbabilities."

DEAN DEL MAESTRO (FORMER PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO STEPHEN HARPER): I respect the judge, but at the same time I know the truth and that decision doesn't change that.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): The Prime Minister's Office not only accepts the decision but tried to increase the distance between Stephen Harper and Del Mastro by pointing out he hasn't been a member of the Conservative caucus for over a year. Del Mastro's former caucus colleagues aren't exactly racing to defend him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN (CONSERVATIVE MP): I have no comment, thank you.

CHRIS ALEXANDER (MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION): We have been very clear as a party what the standard of behaviour is that we expect from our members, and the verdict today speaks for itself.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): Del Mastro sits as an independent MP but could lose his seat in the House of Commons. It's up to the House to decide.

BARRY DEVOLIN (ACTING SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS): We'll get back to this House as quickly as possible.

PETER JULIAN (BRITISH COLUMBIA NDP MP): This is a serious violation. He's been found guilty. To my mind there's no doubt that he cannot continue to sit in the House of Commons.

WAYNE EASTER (P.E.I. LIBERAL MP): I think the act is fairly clear that Mr. Del Mastro will have to step aside.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): But Del Mastro says he wants to keep his seat.

DEAN DEL MAESTRO (ONTARIO INDEPENDENT MP): I intend to still occupy it and I have got a mandate from the people of the city of Peterborough.

CATHERINE CULLEN (REPORTER): Del Mastro is scheduled to return to court for sentencing November 21st and he could face up to three years in prison, although his lawyer says that any jail time for violating the Elections Act would be a precedent. His lawyer also says that an appeal would be difficult, but Del Mastro tells the CBC that is exactly what he plans to do. Wendy?

WENDY MESLEY (HOST): Thanks, Catherine. Catherine Cullen.