Thursday 25 June 2015

“The victim here is Canadian society”: Justice Cameron’s withering assessment of Dean Del Mastro’s crimes

Justice Lisa Cameron has sentenced Dean Del Mastro, the former Conservative MP for Peterborough, to thirty days in jail for overspending about $20,000 on his 2008 election campaign.

(Scroll down for video footage by Pamela VanMeer).
Del Mastro was optimistic at first

Del Mastro, 44, had already been found guilty on three counts of election fraud related to overspending, both on his personal and his campaign limit. The jail sentence is for the first two counts – each of 30 days, to be served concurrently, (i.e. both at the same time, as opposed to consecutively, which would have been 60 days).

After Del Mastro is released, he is to serve four months of house arrest, and will be on probation for an additional 18 months. He also has to pay back $10,000 that Cameron has determined he owed to his riding association.

Cameron delivered an even-handed yet withering assessment of Del Mastro’s crimes.

She stated that Mr. Del Mastro “spent too much money and knew it,” that there was “time to reflect,” and that the “overspending could and should have been avoided.”

And though Mr. Del Mastro’s official agent, retired accountant Richard McCarthy, was also found guilty, he will not be going to jail, but will only see house arrest and probation. And why is that? Because Mr. McCarthy showed remorse, reflection, and insight. According to Cameron he “deserves credit for that.”

Cameron expressed concern with regard to politicians like Del Mastro who “break rules” and are “deceitful.” She said that the “the election process relies in large measure on the honesty of the participants” and that “the victim here is Canadian society.”

She kept going. “Cheating is cheating,” she said, adding that this sort of behavior is the “antithesis of Canadian democracy.”

This is why, though Justice Cameron said that jail time must be considered a last resort, she in effect had no choice. Del Mastro had brought us all to this sordid end game. He was, said Cameron, “the main driver of the offense,” with McCarthy being “much less culpable.”

On the scale of blameworthiness, therefore, she put Del Mastro at the “high end” and McCarthy at the “low end”.  The sentences, she said, were necessary to “contribute to the respect for law.”

This is a far cry from the Dean Del Mastro who served as parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and who was Harper’s point man on the Commons ethics committee, even helping to write the law that will govern this year’s election.

Back on August 8, 2008, a month before the writ was dropped for the election period where Del Mastro committed his crimes, he had some choice quotes for Galen Eagle at the Peterborough Examiner:

Del Mastro: "We like to talk about justice issues because we want to act on them, and the opposition parties don't like to talk about justice issues because they are soft on crime."

Del Mastro: "If you build respect for the justice system and society, put deterrents in place, you'll see less crime."

Del Mastro: "You don't ever want to justify a lenient sentence because we're having problems with providing enough beds in prisons ... that's not an excuse for not running a proper justice system."

During the sentencing Del Mastro appeared calm. He turned once to wink to his mother. He will appeal because, as he said when entering the courthouse, he intends to “do whatever is necessary to stand for the truth.”

There are some who still believe in Mr. Del Mastro’s innocence, but for most he is simply an unrepentant criminal looking for a break.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel. )

Footage by Pamela VanMeer:

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