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Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro charged under Elections Act

Elections Canada has laid charges on Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro and one of his campaign staffers after a two year investigation into his campaign finances. If convicted, Del Mastro could face a $5,000 fine and 5-year jail sentence for concealing $21,000 in campaign expenses. The PMO has since expelled him from the Conservative caucus and his court date is set for November 7, 2013.

Del Mastro long maintained his campaign wasn't hiding expenses but in July, federal prosecuters were considering laying charges over charges claimed during the 2008 election campaign.

Elections Commissioner Yves Côté forwarded the Del Mastro file to the office of Director of Public Prosecutions Brian Saunders earlier this summer. Now, Del Mastro faces 4 charges, three of which shared with staffer Richard McCarthy.

Court documents from last year reveal an Elections Canada investigator believes Del Mastro overspent in the last campaign by over $17,000.

Investigator Thomas Ritchie swore the Del Mastro campaign paid Holinshed $1,575 for campaign work but actually paid the firm $21,000, using a cheque filed under Del Mastro’s personal bank account.

The following is the full statement made by Elections Canada.

Commissioner of Canada Elections Announces the Laying of Canada Elections Act Charges

OTTAWA, September 26, 2013 
Pursuant to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commissioner of Canada Elections, Mr. Yves Côté, has announced his office has laid four charges under the Canada Elections Act, a federal statute. 
The charges were filed on September 26, 2013 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Peterborough. 
Dean Del Mastro and Richard McCarthy are charged with: 
incurring election expenses in an amount more than the election expenses limit, contrary to subsection 443(1) of the Act, thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(p) and 500(5) of the Act; 
providing the Chief Electoral Officer an electoral campaign return that omitted to report a contribution of $21,000.00, omitted to report an election expense of $21,000.00 and instead reported an election expense of $1,575.00, and in so doing provided a document referred to in subsection 451(1) of the Act that each knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a material statement that was false or misleading, contrary to paragraph 463(1)(a) of the Act, thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(v) and 500(5) of the Act; 
providing to the Chief Electoral Officer an electoral campaign return that omitted to report a contribution of $21,000.00, omitted to report an election expense of $21,000.00 and instead reported an election expense of $1,575.00, and in so doing knowingly provided a document referred to in subsection 451(1) of the Act that did not substantially set out the information required by subsection 451(2), contrary to paragraph 463(1)(b) of the Act, thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(v) and 500(5) of the Act. 
Dean Del Mastro is also charged with: 
wilfully exceeding the contribution limit for a candidate in his own election campaign, thereby committing an offence contrary to subsections 497(3)(f.13) and 500(5) of the Act. 
The Commissioner of Canada Elections is responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner under the Canada Elections Act. 
“In our electoral system, it is fundamentally important that the spending and contribution limits enacted by Parliament be respected. It is also essential that the reports and information provided to Elections Canada be accurate and truthful,” said Mr. Côté. “The level-playing field principle and the requirement for transparency call for nothing less. We will continue to be vigilant to ensure that these rules are observed.”

Until recently, Del Mastro served as one of Harper's Parliamentary Secretaries. Harper would be facing questions in the House of Commons now if it weren't for his prorogation.

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