Peterborough Member of Parliament Dean Del Mastro has had his days in court over charges he violated the Elections Act in his 2008 re-election campaign. The trial began in Peterborough on June 23 and ended in Lindsay with final evidence heard on July 14. Closing argument was given by the defence September 2 and by the prosecution on September 4th. A guilty verdict was given on Halloween. Parliament then had to consider whether to expel Mr. Del Mastro from Parliament but he resigned just before the vote.
Mr. Del Mastro changed lawyers from a local lawyer Jeff Ayotte to a Toronto criminal law specialist Leo Adler who attempted unsuccessfully to reopen the case on January 27 a date set for sentencing. This delayed the proceedings so it is now adjourned for sentencing in Lindsay on February 19th. Meanwhile Peterborough has no Member of Parliament and the constituency office is overseen by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer. Andrew Scheer is a Conservative Member of Parliament representing a riding in Regina Saskatchewan. It is possible that a Peterborough by-election will be called but it is more likely the vacancy will be filled when a general election is held for all of Canada later this year.
While charges were pending Mr. Del Mastro sat as an independent Member of Parliament being required to leave the Conservative Party caucus. The charges concern a payment of $21,000 made by a personal cheque to an Ottawa-based polling firm for which Del Mastro was not reimbursed, exceeding his personal spending limit of $5,000. Recently Mr. Del Mastro’s cousin David Del Mastro has been charged with offences related to improper campaign contributions to the Dean Del Mastro election campaign to get around donation limits, where his company is alleged to have had employees make contributions in their names, which were not from them personally but using funds of David Del Mastro.
Peterborough’s former Member of Parliament, having been convicted will be sentenced and will face a fine and possibly a jail sentence. Each party will have a nomination process and the Liberal nomination is already being contested by several candidates. A federal general election is to be held October 19, 2015 unless the Prime Minister calls an election earlier, and it is not known yet who the local candidates will be from any of the major parties. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the authority to call a by-election or he may simply call an early general election. Stay tuned for more drama as 2015 unfolds.