Del Mas­tro loses ap­peal

For­mer MP back in jail af­ter On­tario Court of Ap­peal de­ci­sion; ap­peal to Supreme Court of Canada mulled

The Peterborough Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - JOELLE KOVACH EX­AM­INER STAFF WRITER

For­mer Peter­bor­ough MP Dean Del Mas­tro re­turned to jail in Lind­say on Wed­nes­day af­ter los­ing a sec­ond ap­peal on elec­tion act vi­o­la­tions, but his lawyer stated they are now con­sid­er­ing an ap­peal to the Supreme Court.

Scott Fen­ton, Del Mas­tro’s lawyer, wrote in an emailed state­ment to The

Ex­am­iner that his client is “very dis­ap­pointed” with the On­tario Court of Ap­peal’s de­ci­sion.

“We are ac­tively con­sid­er­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” he wrote.

The ap­peal was heard by a panel of three judges; the de­ci­sion was unan­i­mous.

On­tario Court of Ap­peal Chief Jus­tice Ge­orge Strathy wrote the de­ci­sion, which was re­leased Wed­nes­day.

The other two judges – Jus­tice Mary Lou Benotto and Jus­tice Bradley Miller – agreed with the dis­missal of the ap­peal.

It is the sec­ond ap­peal for Del Mas­tro, who was convicted of hav­ing over­spent on his elec­tion cam­paign in 2008 and of hav­ing taken steps to cover it up.

He was found guilty in 2014 and was sentenced in 2015 to 30 days in jail and four months of house ar­rest.

Wed­nes­day was Del Mas­tro’s ninth day spent in jail.

He spent one night in jail af­ter he was first sentenced, in the early sum­mer of 2016, and was re­leased on bail the fol­low­ing day to file his first ap­peal.

Af­ter los­ing that ap­peal in Oshawa court, he was re­turned to jail for six days be­fore fil­ing an ap­peal to the On­tario Court of Ap­peal.

He spent one day in jail in June, as that ap­peal was be­ing heard in court in Toronto. Then on Wed­nes­day, he was re­turned to jail when that ap­peal lost.

At is­sue is a $21,000 cheque Del Mas­tro wrote to Holin­shed, his voter-call­ing firm. Fen­ton had ar­gued be­fore the On­tario Court of Ap­peal that the trial judge, Jus­tice Lisa Cameron, failed to con­sider the com­mer­cial value of the ser­vices he ordered from Holin­shed.

The pres­i­dent of Holin­shed, Frank Hall, tes­ti­fied at trial that the cheque was meant to cover voter-call­ing. He also said Del Mas­tro had asked him to back­date the in­voices so it ap­peared the work had been done out­side the elec­tion pe­riod.

But Fen­ton ar­gued that the ex­pense shouldn’t count be­cause there was “no way in the world” that Del Mas­tro had re­ceived $21,000 in ser­vices from Holin­shed.

The trial heard that the firm’s record-keep­ing was shoddy, so there was no proof of the num­ber of calls made for Del Mas­tro.

F en ton ex­plained it this way, be­fore the On­tario Court of Ap­peal: if a can­di­date spent $100 on lawn signs but only half of those signs were ever planted in peo­ple’s yards, then the can­di­date should only ac­count for half the cost.

But Strathy wrote in the de­ci­sion that this in­ter­pre­ta­tion doesn’t square with the in­tent of Par­lia­ment.

He wrote that if can­di­dates were to ac­count only for com­mer­cial value rather than money spent, keep­ing track of cam­paign ex­penses would be “un­cer­tain, un­work­able and im­prac­ti­cal.”

“The re­port­ing of elec­tion cam­paign ex­penses would be­come a night­mare if th­ese sort of cal­cu­la­tions were re­quired,” he wrote.

“The au­dit­ing and in­ves­ti­ga­tion of ex­penses for hun­dreds of can­di­dates across the coun­try would be im­prac­ti­cal, time-con­sum­ing and ex­pen­sive. In­stead of be­ing sim­ple and trans­par­ent, the re­port­ing, au­dit­ing and dis­clo­sure of elec­tion ex­penses would be con­fus­ing and opaque.”

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/EX­AM­INER FILES

For­mer Peter­bor­ough Con­ser­va­tive MP Dean Del Mas­tro with his wife Kelly and fam­ily mem­bers ar­rive at the court in Oshawa on April 5, 2016 for one of his ap­peals. Del Mas­tro is back in jail af­ter an On­tario Court of Ap­peal rul­ing.

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