Ex-Conservative staffer Michael Sona charged for his role in robocall affair

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The Huffington Post is reporting that former Conservative staffer Michael Sona has been charged, by Elections Canada, in relation to the Guelph robocall scandal:

Elections Canada would not confirm the exact charge, detailed Tuesday in a provincial court filing in Guelph, Ont., but HuffPost has learned he is charged under section 491.3(d) of the Canada Elections Act, which relates to willfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting. The date of the alleged offence is April 30, 2011 -- two days before the last federal election day.

Sources say the charges relate to phone calls made to voters during the election. A court staffer confirmed a charge was filed against Sona Tuesday.

The article notes that Sona is expected to appear in court on May 3.

[ Related: Report suggests link between Saskatchewan and ‘Pierre Poutine’ robocalls ]

In 2011, Sona was the director of communications for Conservative candidate Marty Burke in the riding of Guelph, Ontario where it's alleged that thousands of voters were misdirected to non-existent voting booths by automated phone messages.

Sona went to work for Conservative MP Eve Adams after the election but resigned, in February 2012, when Sun News reported that "sources" had suggested Sona was behind the so-called robocalls.

In an interview with CBC's Evan Solomon last Fall, Sona denied any involvement.

"All the anonymous sources in the world can point the finger at me, but I'm not going to take responsibility for something that I'm not responsible for," Sona told Solomon.

"I think that there's some people that maybe had an interest in seeing me take the fall for it.

"You've got to take a look at the options and just say, you know what, what is the more realistic option here? That some then-22-year-old guy managed to co-ordinate this entire massive scheme when he didn't even have access to the data to be able to do this, or the alternative — that this was much more co-ordinated or possibly that there were people that knew how to do this, that it was being done?"

[ Related: Conservative campaign manager at heart of robocall scandal packs up for Kuwait ]

Norm Boxall, Sona's lawyer, issued this statement on behalf of his client on Tuesday afternoon:

"Although the charge is disappointing, it represents an opportunity for Mr. Sona to finally address the allegations in a court as opposed to in the media and resolve it permanently,” he said. “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."

As you might expect — because none of the charges have been proven — reaction to this story has been guarded.

"We are following this very closely," NDP Ethics Critic told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"I would like to know who else was involved."

Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar echoed Angus' comments on CBC's Power & Politics.

"The plumbers in Watergate, they didn't act alone. This guy didn't act alone," Dewar said.

"So this has gone from being a story in the paper to something that's being criminally followed-up.

"So hopefully [we are] going to have testimony that will allow us to find out exactly what happened in this case."

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that Sona is the only person charged to date and that the investigation is ongoing.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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