Remember Guelph? That was the original focus of the Elections Canada investigation into fraudulent phone calls but it seems like such a long time ago it may be difficult to remember. So here's a reminder.
Kornelis Klevering knows it will have little impact on his own numbers, but the local Marijuana Party candidate is nonetheless seeking a judicial review of the Guelph results in the last federal election.
"It's not about who won or by how much," Klevering said Tuesday. "It's a matter or principle."
Klevering has been in Thailand for much of the time since that election and only recently returned, which is why he's only acting now. In reference to the 30 day deadline that's supposed to apply to challenges like this:
"I think the court needs to rule on when that 30 days begins," Klevering said. "I knew there were some problems on election day, but my first assumption was it was an error on the part of Elections Canada.
"Nobody had any idea until months later the scope of the fraud."
And I suppose it's possible that this particular case may help clarify that point. I don't see much else coming out of it since the point of the alleged fraud was to benefit Conservatives and in Guelph, it didn't work. Liberal Frank Valeriote won by 6,000 votes.
Earlier in the week, The Tyee published a piece reporting on complaints involving Vancouver ridings. There's really nothing here that advances the story of the investigation but there's a review of events, including a review of the research done by Ekos Research Associates which became part of the legal challenge that's being sponsored by the Council of Canadians.
And now we come, once again, to Dean Del Mastro. The Peterborough MP took part in a federal funding announcement earlier this week and reporters took the opportunity to ask him about the controversy swirling around his 2008 campaign. Del Mastro took the opportunity to paint himself as the victim of Baseless Smears and Allegations™. And leaks. Don't forget the leaks. There was a lot of press about this but let's see if we can boil it down.
Del Mastro continues to accuse Elections Canada of leaking to the media but offers no proof, thereby meeting a lower standard than the agency he's criticizing. Elections Canada has made no public comment accusing Del Mastro of wrongdoing and has supported its court-filed production orders with documentary evidence and sworn affidavits from investigators. The Deaner is also complaining about leaked documents but that would be the aforementioned production orders and affidavits. Those become public record the moment they're filed with the courts.
The MP continues to claim that Elections Canada won't speak to him. In the same breath he complains that it's unfair of Elections Canada to insist that he meet with them only under a legal "caution" — in other words anything the MP might say during the meeting would be on the record and could be used against him. So Del Mastro's real complaint is that Elections Canada is refusing to allow the subject of an investigation to dictate the terms under which he's questioned. When you put it that way, it might seem like an outlandish request for Del Mastro to make but he explained why he feels that way.
... he said he shouldn't have to be put through this experience, as he's a member of Parliament.
"I'm not the average person on the street," he said. "I'm elected by the people of this riding to represent them."
I think a lot of us average people on the street might have a big problem with that statement. Unless of course he means that as a member of Parliament he should be adhering to an even higher standard of transparency and accountability than would apply to the rest of us. Anyone think that's what he meant?
He said he worried that this could happen to other MPs. "They could be next," he said.
Well, yes. Other MPs are elected officials. They're the ones who are normally expected to abide by election law. What did Del Mastro think Elections Canada was supposed to be doing all this time?
And hark! Here there be irony! Glen McGregor tackles the issue of "legal caution" in this piece and points out that it would be, at least in part, to protect Del Mastro's rights.
But the manual used by investigators working for the Commissioner of Canada Elections specifically states that a suspect in an investigation must be cautioned if the case could end up in court.
"It is the policy of the Commissioner that official cautions should be read to a person if a statement or documentary evidence may be used against that person in a court proceeding," the manual says.
The caution requires investigators ensure suspects know they have the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel.
The caution is given to protect the suspects' Charter rights, including the right against self-incrimination, the manual explains. The requirement was put in place to conform with Supreme Court precedents.
So what does Dean Del Mastro have against the Supreme Court?
He keeps insisting that he wants a process that would allow him to clear his name. It almost sounds as though he wants to be charged so he can have his day in court. Maybe someone should accommodate him.
And lets not forget the other matter of the campaign contributions that were allegedly reimbursed by Deltro Electric, the company owned by Dean's cousin David. Dean says "Talk to David". But David's not talking. At the moment, neither is Elections Canada but that doesn't tell us anything until they actually file some paperwork. I suspect there are people watching very closely for that to happen.