Thanks to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and a couple Justin Trudeau gaffes, the Harper government has successfully changed the channel' on the Senate expense scandal -- at least temporarily.
But remember that other scandal — the robocall affair?
That may be the next 'channel' that Canadians turns to.
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Over the past couple of weeks, there have been some new revelations about the alleged voter fraud, in Guelph, during the 2011 federal election:
Media reports suggest that Jenni Byrne, who was the Conservative Party's national campaign manager, advised a key witness in the investigation to delay an interview with an Elections Canada official until she could obtain legal advice. Byrne now works at the PMO.
We also learned that six Conservative staffers told Elections Canada investigator Allan Matthews that their colleague Michael Sona bragged about his alleged involvement in the fraudulent automated phone calls. Interestingly, we now know that Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton brought at least three of the witnesses to the attention of Mathews and sat in all the interviews.
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And now there's another strange twist to this story that shines a curious light on the Conservative Party.
According to iPolitics, at least one of the witnesses claims that Sona confessed to her during a time period that he couldn't have because he was on a beach vacation.
According to the Mathews document, Sona allegedly came by [Rebecca Dockstaeder's] office and that of another [MP Chris] Warkentin staffer, John Schudlo, and boasted of his robocalls work “a week to 10 days” after the May 2, 2011 election. That would mean between May 9 and May 12.
However travel records show that Sona flew on US Airways to Aruba, in the Caribbean, on May 7 and only returned late on May 14th, a Saturday. He was not back in his office – he worked on communications for Tory MP Rob Moore – until May 16, the Monday.
According to the Mathews document, which is called an Information to Obtain a production order (ITO), Dockstaeder claimed Sona told her and Schudlo that he obtained a list of phone numbers of Liberal voters and recorded a message impersonating Elections Canada.
Sona's lawyer would not comment on the discrepancy.
As for Sona — who continues to deny any involvement with the fraudulent robocalls — spent some time on Sunday night and Monday morning re-tweeting some witty comments.
Damnedest thing. I woke up and my house has a new sun deck. I think maybe Michael Sona built it while he was in Aruba. #sonafeats
— Paul Wells (@InklessPW) November 18, 2013
— A (@alternaaron) November 18, 2013
Certainly, Dockstaeder could have 'mis-remembered' the date she met with Sona.
But the iPolitics story is story the Conservative Party didn't need to come out one week before four federal byelections.
It's also a reminder that, while the hoopla surrounding the Senate expense scandal may have subsided, there's potentially another politically damaging scandal in the mix.
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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