He said he didn't do it, but it seems that Elections Canada begs to differ in the case of Michael Sona and the great robocall election scandal of 2011.
Sona became the first person charged in relation to the Election Day 2011 attempt to defraud Canadian votes of their franchise. The charge was filed with the Ontario Court of Justice in Guelph today, but according to the Guelph Mercury the full nature of the charges could not be released until papers were officially served to Sona personally, who lives in Ottawa. Some may see this as progress, but the devil, as they say, is in the details.
Now the charge - filed under section 491.3(d) of the Canada Elections Act, which relates to willfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting - is dated, according to some sources, for April 30, 2011, or two days before Election Day. Could this suggest that the charges have more to do with an incident on the University of Guelph campus where Sona allegedly interfered with a special ballot? Or is there some kind of evidence from Elections Canada that there was advanced planning inside the Marty Burke campaign that we aren't purvey to yet?
Sona for his part has maintained his innocence. Doing a round of press last fall, an unusual development for a man who kept his candidate on media lockdown throughout most of the campaign, Sona was emphatic that he had no part in the robocall conspiracy, which makes the charge made today all the more compelling. Is he lying, or has Sona been scapegoated again? Certainly Twitter, on which Sona is presently a trending topic, isn't buying it. Many believe that Sona has been thrown under the bus once again, and the hope here is that if Sona is genuine about proving his innocence then he might be willing to testify about the role others in the Burke campaign may have played.
Norm Boxall, lawyer for Sona, posted a comment today that seems to indicate that that's the direct his client will be going in.
Neither Mr. Sona or I will be making any public statements beyond the following statement at this time.
Although the charge is disappointing, it represents an opportunity for Mr. Sona to finally address the allegations in a court as oppose to in the media and resolve it permanently. I cannot help but comment, that if the government was interested in the public being fully informed and the issue of robocalls being properly addressed, a Full Public Inquiry would be called, rather than a charge laid against a single individual who held a junior position on a single campaign and who clearly lacked the resources and access to the data required to make the robocalls. I am confident the public agrees.
It would take a lot of guile for Sona to be heavily involved in the planning of the robocalls and then play innocent and demand a full, public inquiry. I've never believed for a second that Sona was the man behind the mask of Pierre Poutine, if only because he had no access to the CIMS database which has been connected between the Burke office and the homes in Guelph that received the fraudulent calls. Hopefully, as a lot of people are hoping tonight, Sona's public charging will either be the beginning of the charges, or will be the first domino to fall resulting in future charges stemming from a full, public hearing either on Parliament Hill or in a Guelph court room.
Sona is due to appear in court May 3 at 9:30 am. If found guilty, Sona can receive anywhere from $1,000 fine and one year in jail, to $5,000 fine and five years in jail. More news as it develops.