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Ex-Tory MP Del Mastro accuses Elections Canada of a 'personal vendetta'

Dean Del Mastro, former Member of Parliament for Peterborough, holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, May 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — A former Conservative MP who spent time behind bars for electoral offences is accusing Canada’s elections authority of having a personal vendetta against him — and he’s calling for a parliamentary investigation.

Dean Del Mastro was handed a one-month jail term in 2014 after being convicted of failing to report a $21,000 contribution he made to his own 2008 re-election campaign, overspending and knowingly filing a false report.

The ex-parliamentary secretary to former prime minister Stephen Harper is calling on MPs to launch a thorough investigation into the handling of his case that would include testimony from Canada’s elections commissioner.

Del Mastro says he thinks Elections Canada was biased against him because of his role at the time, defending the Harper government as it dealt with a controversy about election robocalls.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa today, he says he never got a chance to reach a compliance agreement to avoid prosecution while in other cases — including one involving Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin — Elections Canada negotiated deals.

To reach a compliance agreement, however, a party must admit wrongdoing and Del Mastro still insists he did nothing wrong.

Del Mastro is coming forward at a time of renewed public discussion about the elections commissioner’s decision to strike a compliance agreement in 2016 with SNC-Lavalin.

The company reached the deal with Elections Canada after admitting executives who’d left the company by then had encouraged employees to give money to both the Liberal and Conservative parties on a promise they would be reimbursed.

Reimbursing donors with company bonuses was a way to skirt an election law that forbids corporations from making political donations.

The Liberals got nearly $118,000 under the scheme, compared with the Tories’ $8,000.

The Canadian Press