GUELPH, Ont. — A former Conservative staffer recalls Michael Sona comparing his life during the federal election campaign of 2011 to the drama of the TV show “24.”
Benjamin Hicks says he was “shocked” to hear Sona boast of concocting an elaborate plot to call thousands of phone numbers in Guelph, Ont., on election day to steer Liberal supporters away from their proper polling stations.
Sona, who worked on the local Conservative campaign in Guelph in 2011, is charged with “wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting.”
Hicks tells court that when he asked Sona if the candidate, Marty Burke, knew of the plan, Sona jokingly asked, “Are you wearing a wire?”
Hicks, who met Sona as a Conservative intern but no longer works in politics, says he can’t recall if there was any discussion of other people being involved in the plot.
Earlier today, John Schudlo, a “work friend” of Sona’s, said he specifically remembered Sona saying that at least one other person was involved in the scheme.
On Wednesday, Schudlo’s colleague Rebecca Dockstaeder testified about hearing the same conversation, but said Sona took all the credit for the plan and its execution.
Both Schudlo and Dockstaeder said they didn’t believe the story at first, given Sona’s tendency towards exaggeration.
“My impression was he was sort of revelling in it, it gave him a bad boy vibe, I guess,” Schudlo said in recalling Sona’s delivery of the story.
“Mike is a storyteller, and — I’m giving him credit in a way — he tells an interesting story. It just seems sometimes over the top.”
Schudlo said he was initially hesitant to speak on the record about the story, but only did so when Dockstaeder insisted they should.
“This is not a fun experience for me, it’s been quite stress-inducing,” he said, adding that he felt a responsibility to corroborate Dockstaeder’s story.
“I feel like I’ve lost a centimetre off my hairline.”