Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Del Mastro Trial Begins on Elections Act Charges from 2008 Campaign

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Del Mastro Trial Begins on Elections Act Charges from 2008 Campaign

Article excerpt

Former Tory in court facing election charges

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PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - A member of Parliament once tasked with defending the Harper Conservatives against voter fraud allegations goes on trial Monday, accused of overspending during the 2008 federal election campaign.

Former Conservative Dean Del Mastro pleaded not guilty last month to charges under the Canada Elections Act.

Del Mastro, who now sits in the House of Commons as an independent MP and insists he did nothing wrong, is also charged with failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign.

Elections Canada also alleges that Del Mastro tried to cover up his overspending by knowingly submitting a falsified document.

The trial before an Ontario provincial court judge in Peterborough, Ont., is currently scheduled to last a little more than two weeks, beginning with the presentation of evidence from prosecutors.

Del Mastro's lawyer, Jeffrey Ayotte, declined to comment on the case against his client Friday, saying he'll save his remarks for the trial.

Richard McCarthy, Del Mastro's official agent for the 2008 campaign, is being tried at the same time on three charges, including "incurring election expenses in an amount more than the election expenses limit."

McCarthy's lawyer, David McFadden, also entered a not guilty plea last month on McCarthy's behalf.

A nearly two-year investigation into Del Mastro's 2008 election campaign focused on the $21,000 payment he made to a consulting firm from his personal account, which did not appear on his official campaign return and which would have put him over the campaign spending limit.

The maximum candidates are allowed to contribute to their own campaigns is $2,100.

As the prime minister's parliamentary secretary during the robocalls affair, it was Del Mastro's job to fend off allegations against the Conservatives of voter fraud in the 2011 campaign.

But he has been in political limbo since his tearful resignation from the Conservative caucus after being charged in September 2013.

Del Mastro stands accused of paying Ottawa-based Holinshed Research $21,000 for work on his 2008 campaign. …

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