TORONTO – The former Conservative staffer convicted in the 2011 robocalls scandal will have to spend another few days in jail before learning if he’ll be granted bail pending an appeal of his sentencing.
The Crown contested Michael Sona’s bail application, but agreed it would be worthwhile for Ontario’s Court of Appeal to review whether his nine-month sentence is appropriate.
Crown attorney Nick Devlin argued that Justice Gary Hearn made no legal errors in convicting or sentencing Sona and bail should not be granted.
“This is one of those rare offences where he’s actually done some damage to the fabric of society,” Devlin said.
“This one resonated, I think, with Canadians across the country because they all imagined (being) the person who at the end of a very busy day, juggling all their work and family commitments, went to vote and went to the wrong place because of this.”
Sona’s lawyer, Howard Krongold, argued the sentence handed down to his client was unnecessarily harsh and deserves a review.
Sona has already suffered considerably, and his experience serves as a strong deterrent for others who might consider committing election fraud, Krongold said.
Most young first-time offenders “benefit from a measure of obscurity” when they are tried and sentenced, but that hasn’t been the case with Sona, he noted.
“Quite frankly, he’s been front page news; his life has been completely devastated and turned upside down,” Krongold said.
“Nobody who was thinking about offending would look at Mr. Sona’s situation and want to be in his shoes — even if he were to be given a short, sharp jail sentence, house arrest, that sort of thing.”
Appeal Court Justice Harry LaForme — who called the election scheme “an atrocious offence” — reserved his decision following the bail hearing, but indicated he would issue a ruling as soon as possible.
Sona has served 10 days in jail since being found guilty of violating the Canada Elections Act. While Friday’s hearing focused on the appeal of his sentence, Sona also wants to appeal his conviction.
Sona was the only person to be charged after some 6,700 automated phone calls were placed on the morning of the 2011 federal election with misleading information on how to vote.