Canada Politics

MP Dean Del Mastro charged with election spending violations, steps down from Tory caucus

Canada Politics

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro -- the former parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- is no longer in the Conservative caucus.

Del Mastro resigned from the Tories, on Thursday, after Elections Canada formally laid charges against him — and his financial agent — for contravening the Elections Act during the 2008 federal election campaign.

The MP for Peterborough has been charged for inappropriately writing a personal cheque for $21,000 to a campaign service provider and not reporting the expense to Elections Canada. Taking that expense into account, Del Mastro's campaign exceeded the spending limit by approximately $17,000.

Del Mastro has consistently said that he has done nothing wrong and released this statement in response to the charges:

Today I learned that Elections Canada laid charges against me pertaining to the 2008 General Election. As I have consistently stated in the past, I entirely reject these allegations and look forward to the opportunity to defend myself in court.

Since my election in 2006, I have been dedicated to first and foremost, the people of the Peterborough Riding, and that will not change moving forward, and secondly to the Conservative Party. While it is my full intention to continue to support the Government’s economic agenda and the principals for which it stands, I have advised caucus leadership that it is my intention to step out of caucus until this matter is resolved.

Not surprisingly, Tory sources told CBC News that Del Mastro had no choice but to resign.

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Del Mastro is the fourth Conservative MP to be called-out of late because of campaign spending irregularities.

In March, then-intergovernmental affairs minister Peter Penashue was forced to resign his seat in parliament for accepting ineligible donations during the 2011 election campaign.

And, in June, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand asked that Manitoba MPs Shelly Glover and James Bezan be suspended from the House for refusing to correct their campaign returns from the last election. Glover eventually corrected her return while Bezan intends to pursue the matter at the courts, claiming that his dispute is simply a difference of opinion.

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In a media scrum on Thursday afternoon, NDP MP Nathan Cullen suggested that there is a pattern here.

"We need fair rules that everybody follows. Not two sets of rules. One for everybody else and one for Conservatives. And we've seen it pattern after pattern whether its the abuses in the Senate and spending during the elections to favour their cause," he said.

"Robocalls, the in and out scandal and individual campaigns breaking both donation laws and spending limits. How else are we are going describe this pattern of behaviour that is sociopolitical towards our elections systems?

"The fact is there are Conservatives sitting in that House of Commons that don't deserve to be there."

According to the Ottawa Citizen, if convicted, Del Mastro could face a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The Charges against Del Mastro:

Charge no. 1

That Dean Del Mastro, being a candidate in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, and Richard McCarthy, being the official agent of candidate Dean Del Mastro in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, did wilfully, between September 14, 2008 and October 14, 2008, at or near the City of Peterborough, the City of Ottawa and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, incur election expenses in an amount that was more than the election expenses limit of $92,655.79 calculated under section 440 of the Canada Elections Act for the electoral district of Peterborough in that election, contrary to subsection 443(1) of the said Act; thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(p) and 500(5) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9, as amended;

Charge no. 2

And further, that Dean Del Mastro, being a candidate in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, between September 14, 2008 and October 14, 2008, at or near the City of Peterborough, the City of Ottawa and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, did pay an election expense of $21,000.00 out of his own funds, thereby making a contribution and, in so doing, wilfully exceeded the contribution limit of $2,100.00 for a candidate in his own election campaign as calculated under subsections 405(1), 405(4)(a) and section 405.1 of the Canada Elections Act, contrary to subsection 405(1) of the said Act; thereby committing an offence contrary subsections 497(3)(f.13) and 500(5) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9, as amended;

Charge no. 3

And further, that Dean Del Mastro, being a candidate in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, and Richard McCarthy, being the official agent of candidate Dean Del Mastro in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, did, between February 9, 2009 and February 13, 2009, at or near the City of Peterborough, the City of Ottawa and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, provide to the Chief Electoral Officer an electoral campaign return that omitted to report a contribution of $21,000.00 from Dean Del Mastro to his campaign, omitted to report an election expense of $21,000.00 and instead reported an election expense of $1,575.00, and in so doing did provide to the Chief Electoral Officer a document referred to in subsection 451(1) of the Canada Elections Act that each of them knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a material statement that was false or misleading, contrary to paragraph463(1)(a) of the said Act; thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(v) and 500(5) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9, as amended;

Charge no. 4

And further, that Dean Del Mastro, being a candidate in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, and Richard McCarthy, being the official agent of candidate Dean Del Mastro in the 40th federal general election in the electoral district of Peterborough, did, between February 9, 2009 and February 13, 2009, at or near the City of Peterborough, the City of Ottawa and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario, provide to the Chief Electoral Officer an electoral campaign return that omitted to report a contribution of $21,000.00 from Dean Del Mastro to his campaign, omitted to report an election expense of $21,000.00 and instead reported an election expense of $1,575.00, and in so doing did knowingly provide to the Chief Electoral Officer a document referred to in subsection 451(1) of the Canada Elections Act that did not substantially set out the information required by subsection 451(2), contrary to paragraph 463(1)(b) of the said Act; thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(v) and 500(5) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9, as amended.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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