Ottawa-based advocacy group Democracy Watch announced it will launch a private prosecution against the Conservative Party for its role in the 2011 robocalls scandal, which misled some Canadians to go to wrong polling stations in key ridings. The group decided to take action after government lawyers refused to press charges. At time of writing, Democracy Watch is focusing legal efforts on one individual in at Conservative Party Headquarters who booked calls that gave voters across the country incorrect polling station locations, even after Elections Canada warned all political parties not to engage in such activities during the 2011 campaign.
Canada: Chief electoral officer hopes public remains vigilant over political dirty tricks | Calgary Herald
The upcoming federal election will see tougher rules around the use of robocalls, but Canada’s chief electoral officer hopes greater public awareness will help stamp out improper use of automated calls and other political dirty tricks. Fraudulent robocalls to direct voters to the wrong polling station in the 2011 election in Guelph helped lead to new rules requiring political parties and service providers to register with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) before contacting voters. Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand said in an interview that Elections Canada will be watching closely for abuse of any robocalls on election day, set for Oct. 19 under the federal fixed election date law. But he said there are also other potential issues to watch for, including false Facebook and Twitter accounts and the risk of someone hacking into party or Elections Canada computer systems.
Michael Sona, the former Conservative staffer convicted in the 2011 robocalls scandal, was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in jail for what the judge called “an affront to the electoral process.” Justice Gary Hearn called his task “a difficult and troublesome sentencing.” The Crown had wanted Sona, 26, to spend at least a year and a half in custody for his role in a scheme to misdirect voters on the morning of the 2011 federal election. Sona hung his head and typed on a BlackBerry, his family members beside him in tears, as Hearn delivered his decision. Sona will also spend 12 months on probation.
Former Conservative party staffer Michael Sona has been convicted of trying to prevent voters from casting ballots during the 2011 federal election. Sona, 25, was the only person charged in what has come to be known as the robocalls scandal, in which automated calls were set up to target voters in Guelph — most of them Liberal supporters — with misleading instructions on where to vote. After a long recounting of the trial’s testimony, Superior Court Justice Gary Hearn said he was convinced “well beyond a reasonable doubt” that Sona was guilty. Sona hung his head and family members fought back tears as Hearn explained his decision.
The prosecutors who decided to proceed with a charge against Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona in the robocall case must believe they have a shot at conviction, which suggests Elections Canada has evidence stronger than anything it has disclosed in publicly available court documents, says veteran elections lawyer Jack Siegel. “The standard to get it through a prosecutor is reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction,” said Siegel, an active Liberal, in an interview Wednesday. “Of course, all the evidence they have is not going to be on the public record.” Sona, who was director of communications on the unsuccessful campaign of Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke, was charged Tuesday under the Elections Act for seeking to “prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election,” for actions alleged to have taken place between April 30 and May 2, 2011.
After 22 months of investigation, Elections Canada has charged a former Conservative campaign staffer over misleading robocalls sent to voters in Guelph, Ont. in the 2011 election. A single charge was laid in Guelph against Michael Sona, who served as director of communications to losing Conservative candidate Marty Burke. Elections Canada confirmed that Sona was charged Tuesday under a section of the Elections Act that makes it illegal to “wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election.” The charge is the first to be laid in the politically charged robocalls affair that has hovered over the Conservative Party.