Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tearful del Mastro Says He's Had to Pay 'Exceptionally Heavy Price' Due to Trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tearful del Mastro Says He's Had to Pay 'Exceptionally Heavy Price' Due to Trial

Article excerpt

Tearful Del Mastro says trial took heavy toll

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LINDSAY, Ont. - Dean Del Mastro choked back tears and had to compose himself in an Ontario court Tuesday as he described the "nationwide condemnation" he's had to endure as his election overspending trial wound its way through the legal system.

The former Conservative MP -- who was found guilty last fall of violating the Canada Elections Act -- made an emotional speech at his sentencing hearing before a judge retired to decide whether to send him to jail or not.

"There are some who would appreciate an opportunity to hold a public stoning in the town square," Del Mastro told Justice Lisa Cameron. "It's my hope that the significant consequences that I have endured and shared will be considered in your deliberations."

Del Mastro -- once Prime Minister Stephen Harper's point man defending the Tories against allegations of electoral fraud -- was found guilty last fall of exceeding spending limits, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign and knowingly submitting a falsified document during the 2008 federal election.

He maintained his innocence throughout his legal proceedings, even calling the verdict in his case just the judge's opinion.

While he emphasized his respect for the court in his statement, Del Mastro did not appear to express any apology or regret.

He did, however, make it clear that his legal saga has been a burden.

"I've had plenty of time to reflect on the case. I assure you there have been no shortage of sleepless nights," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers have been dominated by questions, research and discussion about things we could have done differently. And by things that were perhaps missed or perhaps misrepresented."

Del Mastro faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine on each of the three offences.

His lawyer has asked for a conditional discharge or, at most, a fine. …

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