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Friday, 11 July 2014

Dean Del Mastro’s death by a thousand cuts

Dean Del Mastro, MP for Peterborough, took the stand again today during a trial in which he and the former agent for his 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy, are charged with overspending and then covering up the misdeed. Central to the Crown’s case is a $21,000 personal cheque paid by Del Mastro to Holinshed, a now-defunct Ottawa-based polling firm.
 
Defence counsel does not look worried
The day started with Tom Lemon, counsel for the Crown, showing Del Mastro spreadsheets of potential voters sent to him by Holinshed. Lemon tried to pin down Del Mastro to indicate that this was evidence of voter ID on the part of Holinshed, and not simply for getting out the vote on election day.

“I’ve been on a lot of campaigns, Mr. Lemon,” said Del Mastro. “That entire list would have been for contacts on election day...Your assumption is totally incorrect.”

As in previous examination by Lemon, Del Mastro proved himself to be a skilled navigator of court proceedings. Clearly knowledgeable of election processes, at times Del Mastro appeared to out-match Lemon.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Perjury a near certainty at Del Mastro trial

At the Dean Del Mastro trial someone is almost certainly lying. And those lies are real doozers.

Del Mastro took the stand again today in his defence against charges that he and his former electoral agent, Richard McCarthy, overspent on Del Mastro’s 2008 campaign. Central to the Crown’s evidence is a $21,000 personal cheque: Del Mastro says it was intended for a software package not used during the writ period; the Crown says it paid for some election expenses, putting Del Mastro over both his personal and his campaign limit.
 
Outside the Simcoe St. court house
During his testimony Del Mastro categorically denied much of the alleged email correspondence with former pollster Frank Hall that has been entered as evidence in the case.

In reference to a September 14, 2008 email allegedly from Del Mastro to Frank Hall that says, “Hi, Frank, it is crucial that you call me,” Del Mastro said, “I never wrote that.”

The subject at the beginning of the email chain was “ASAP”, and was changed in the chain to “Re: quote”. Del Mastro said that ‘someone’ had deliberately amended the subject line.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dean Del Mastro walks down memory lane: “It was hard for a 23-year-old white guy to get a job.”

We are into week three of the Dean Del Mastro trial, and have finally arrived at the moment many have been waiting for: Mr. Del Mastro, MP for Peterborough, has taken the stand in his own defence.
 
Dean Del Mastro
Under examination from his lawyer, Jeff Ayotte, Del Mastro took a walk down memory lane, explaining that he had to return to Peterborough from his studies at the University of Windsor after his father died in the winter months of 1994.

“I would have graduated that spring, but was called back,” he said. “Those were Rae Days. It was hard for a 23-year-old white guy to get a job.”

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Note to Del Mastro defence: attacking this witness was bad math

The Dean Del Mastro trial resumed on Wednesday, July 2, with the defence team firing salvos at Frank Hall, the prosecution’s star witness.
 
Del Mastro outside court in Peterborough
Wearing a dark suit and white shirt, Hall parried questions from Del Mastro’s lawyer, Jeff Ayotte, as well as Dave McFadden, counsel for Richard McCarthy, Del Mastro’s official agent for his 2008 campaign. Both McCarthy and Del Mastro are charged with overspending on the campaign, and then covering it up.

Hall, along with his brother Colin and wife Jennifer, ran the Ottawa-based polling firm Holinshed, which Del Mastro used during his 2008 election campaign.

Monday, 30 June 2014

In Mexico, Michoacán struggles for stability

Mireles in custody (Milenio)
The state of Michoacán in central-western Mexico remains in crisis.  Ongoing political instability, cartel activity, rampant corruption, armed civil defense groups, militarization...It has been a chaotic scene since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderón launched Mexico’s war on drugs in his home state. Things have gotten so bad that they have even disrupted the avocado and lime markets.

In late June, José Manuel Mireles, the former leader of the Tepalacatepec self defense group, was arrested. The charges were related to carrying military grade weapons such as AK-47s (the weapon of choice for both cartels and self defense groups), hand guns, and explosives.

Friday, 27 June 2014

“Now you’re trying to trick me”: Del Mastro trial continues with testy cross-examination

The defence got its first shot at the Crown’s star witness during the Dean Del Mastro trial on Friday, and if today’s proceedings are indicative of what’s to come, we can expect some fireworks when the trial resumes on Wednesday next week.
 
Jeff Ayotte and Dean Del Mastro
Del Mastro, the federal Member of Parliament for Peterborough, is on trial along with the official agent for his 2008 campaign, Richard McCarthy. Both men are charged with overspending during the election, and then covering it up.

In the morning the Crown concluded its examination of Frank Hall, the pollster whose firm, Holinshed, was hired by Del Mastro to help with his 2008 re-election bid. Crown Prosecutor Tom Lemon concluded by thanking his star witness, and saying that “I have never questioned a witness for this long.”

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Was Frank Hall Dean Del Mastro’s patsy?

A pattern is emerging in the Dean Del Mastro trial.

According to evidence provided by Frank Hall, who ran the now defunct Ottawa polling firm Holinshed, for almost a year he was strung along by Dean Del Mastro, the Peterborough MP accused of overspending on his 2008 campaign, and then covering it up. 
Frank Hall on the stand

Hall backdated numerous invoices in the hopes of getting additional business from both Del Mastro’s Peterborough riding association and his parliamentary office.

However, once Del Mastro was in possession of a timeline that put him in the clear of any appearance of wrongdoing, and after Hall and his brother Colin raised red flags on suspicious Election Canada reporting and unpaid invoices, the relationship was abruptly terminated.

On August 28, 2008, Dean Del Mastro sent a scathing email to Frank Hall. In it, he asserted that he “has a job to do,” and that Hall’s invoices didn’t correspond to what had been agreed to in conversation. He further asserted that he was “sick of this entire saga,” though he concluded that that they could “discuss compensation for costs, and hopefully this can end amicably.”