Dean Del Mastro emotional in defence of campaign spending
Conservative MP tears up while questioning Elections Canada investigation
Dean Del Mastro is taking his fight against Elections Canada to the House of Commons, complaining his privilege as an MP has been breached by the agency's ongoing investigation into his 2008 campaign spending.
Del Mastro, the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary, is demanding that Elections Canada either clear his name or lay a charge, arguing the agency has wrapped up its investigation.
The MP for Peterborough, Ont., raised a question of privilege the day after doing a series of interviews on the issue. His question of privilege asks House Speaker Andrew Scheer to rule on whether his rights as an MP have been breached by the election agency neither charging him, nor clearing his name, despite finishing its investigation.
Del Mastro says leaks to the media incapacitated him as an MP.
He also says the fact that he met with Elections Canada investigators was "leaked to further provoke the press to attack me."
"The details of the meeting, in fact even that there was a meeting, was only known by Elections Canada. I ask you, Mr. Speaker how else, other than through a leak directly from Elections Canada, could they have known these details?"
Del Mastro's lawyer told the Globe and Mail last July that he would meet with the agency.
The MP also alleges the investigator who filed the court documents that required some information to be disclosed in Del Mastro's case didn't provide full and frank disclosure, or the production orders wouldn't have been granted. He says he offered several times to speak or meet with Elections Canada.
Del Mastro teared up in the House Thursday morning as he talked about the effect of the investigation on his family.
"Mr. Speaker, I feel violated and betrayed," he said.
"I feel strongly that this process has been conducted with malice and contempt for me as a member for and my family's well-being."
The Speaker is likely to hear from more MPs before ruling. Del Mastro asked him to send the matter to the procedure and House affairs committee if he finds Del Mastro's privilege has been breached.
An email from Elections Canada to Del Mastro's lawyer Jeffrey Ayotte, dated April 8, 2013, and provided to Power & Politics, confirms the first stage of the probe was nearly finished.
"Our investigation is virtually complete, although odds and ends can still be found to follow up. The matter is going to the commissioner for review and consideration now. I cannot predict how long that process will take," the note from investigator Al Mathews reads.
'I've been patient'
But it's far from clear whether that report will vindicate Del Mastro.
Yves Côté, the commissioner of Canada Elections, has two options: he could accept the report, or he could refer the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who could then decide to lay charges.
Lashing out at the lingering cloud of suspicion over him during an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Del Mastro insisted he has done nothing wrong and expressed confidence he will be exonerated.
Court documents filed by Elections Canada have suggested he exceeded his 2008 election campaign expense limit and that he filed a false document.
"I've been patient because I've been waiting for Elections Canada to go through the evidence I've provided. I've answered every question they've asked, I've provided every piece of evidence that they've requested. I've had absolutely nothing to hide from them in any regard," he told Evan Solomon, host of Power & Politics.
"Some months ago, they indicated to us that they had completed the investigation and still, here we are with no word from Elections Canada."
Agency won't confirm or deny
The agency declined to be specific when asked about the status of the investigation.
"Elections Canada policy is not to confirm or deny an investigation or whether one has been completed," said spokesman John Enright.
Asked why Elections Canada would not publicly confirm the case is closed, Del Mastro said the agency is in a "difficult position" because certain information has been put in the public realm. He urged them to say publicly that they have dropped the investigation.
Del Mastro also insisted a personal cheque he wrote to Holinshed Research Group for $21,000 — that allegedly exceeds the $2,100 legal limit for candidates' contributions — was only a "deposit cheque that was fully reimbursed by the [riding]association and the campaign."
But there is no sign of that reimbursement in the records filed with Elections Canada.
Del Mastro also addressed the false-document allegation based on handwriting on a receipt from Holinshed that appeared similar to the handwriting of his official agent, Richard McCarthy. He said his agent wrote on top of a "stub" from the company to account for the transaction, and called the suggestion it's a false document "preposterous."