MP Dean Del Mastro to take stand in own defence

The independent parliamentarian defends overspending allegations

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Independent MP Dean Del Mastro is expected to take the stand in his own defence today at his election spending trial in Peterborough, Ont.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of overspending during the 2008 campaign, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign and knowingly submitting a falsified document.

Del Mastro — who was once the Harper government’s point man on defending the Conservatives against allegations of voter fraud — has maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

On Tuesday, Del Mastro’s lawyer mapped out how he plans to defend his client, saying he hopes to erode the integrity of the prosecution’s key witness.

That witness is Frank Hall — president of the now-defunct data consulting firm Holinshed Research — whose work for Del Mastro’s campaign is at the heart of the case.

The Crown alleges Del Mastro paid for the firm’s services from a personal account, thereby exceeding a limit on personal contributions for the election campaign.

Del Mastro lawyer Jeffrey Ayotte said Hall had “motivations that were not what he said here,” referring to testimony the trial has already heard from Hall, who was the Crown’s first witness.

“He said his motivation was that he saw an error and wanted to correct it. Well, he saw the error, he says, in May of 2009 — and he seeks to correct it two years later.

“And he tells us … one of the things he did in the meantime was that he initiated a small claims court case against Mr. Del Mastro and that small claims court case was dismissed.”

The Crown has also alleged Del Mastro tried to cover up the overspending by using backdated invoices to make it appear Holinshed had only charged a fraction of the overall cost during the election period.

But Hall wasn’t being entirely forthright when he flagged irregularities with Del Mastro’s campaign returns, Ayotte suggested Tuesday.

Del Mastro left the Conservative caucus in September 2013.

“I’m very pleased at the way court is proceeding. I’ve waited a long time for this trial to come together,” he said outside court Tuesday.




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