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The Federal Court Judge in the so-called "robocall" case officially dismissed the applicants' case.
That means he did not order new elections in the six contested ridings.
Judge Richard Mosley reasoned that although "electoral fraud occurred" during the last General Election, he was not convinced "the fraud affected the outcomes in the subject ridings."
In other words, the Conservatives got off by the skin of their teeth.
Now they're crowing that they were vindicated.
The Conservatives were not vindicated, however, as anyone reading the full judgment could see.
The judgment scorches the Conservatives
Here are some of the clear and emphatic points Judge Mosley made in his exemplary judgment -- points that lead straight to National Conservative Party headquarters.
First, there is the nature of the fraud that occurred in 2011.
It involved, the Judge wrote, "telephone calls purporting to be from Elections Canada."
He continued: "... voters were told that the locations of polling stations in their districts had been moved ... The information was false and Elections Canada neither made nor authorized those calls."
And were those calls merely a trivial and peripheral matter, as Conservative have tried to argue since they were first revealed?
Not according to Judge Mosley.
"The calls struck at the integrity of the electoral process," he said, and then went on to explain the novel and unprecedented nature of this sort of tactic in Canada:
"This form of 'voter suppression' was, until the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country."
And how was a person or were persons able to target identified, non-Conservative voters?
"The evidence presented in these applications," the Judge wrote, "Points to a concerted campaign by persons who had access to a database of voter information maintained by a political party."
That political party, Mosley said, was the Conservative Party of Canada.
Conservative strategy: Obstruct, block and delay
When six Canadians from across the country, supported by the Council of Canadians, sought relief from the Court, did the Conservatives expedite matters in order to get at the bottom of whatever abuse might have occurred?
They did not.
To the contrary, the Conservative Party resorted to a grab bag of too-clever-by-half delay tactics to slow down the proceedings.
The Conservatives' lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, dredged up obscure and irrelevant precedents, engaged in nearly outrageous ad hominem attacks against the applicants' main witness, and even questioned the motives of the applicants' lawyer, Steven Shrybman.
Even while the proceedings were going on, Judge Mosley found that last tactic too much to stomach, and virtually asked Hamilton to cut it out and get down to business.
In writing his judgment, Mosley felt it necessary to note these obstructionist tactics.
"These proceedings," he wrote, "Have had partisan overtones from the outset. That was particularly evident in the submissions of the respondent [Conservative] MPs ... [It] has seemed to me that the applicants sought to achieve and hold the high ground of promoting the integrity of the electoral process, while the respondent MPs engaged in trench warfare in an effort to prevent this case from coming to a hearing on the merits."
In other words, if the whole 'robocall' complaint was, in fact, baseless, why was there a need to resort to such spurious tactics to try to push it off a cliff?
Mosley points out, in fact, that from the moment there was any evidence of fraudulent robocalls during the last campaign, the Conservatives behaved as though they had something to hide. The Party did not act as though its primary goal was to protect and uphold the integrity of the electoral process.
"Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations," Mosely wrote in his judgment, "The Conservative Party of Canada made little effort to assist with the investigation --[even] at the outset -- despite early requests."
He continued: "I note that counsel for the Conservative Party of Canada was informed while the election was taking place that the calls about polling station changes were improper. While it was begrudgingly conceded during oral argument that what occurred was 'absolutely outrageous,' the record indicates that the stance taken by the respondent [Conservative] MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means."
Do people who sincerely believe fraudulent calls during an election are "absolutely outrageous" make every effort to obstruct proceedings designed to uncover what happened?
Maybe they do. Maybe that's the way our adversarial court system is supposed to work. All's fair in love, war and Federal Court cases.
Michael Sona seems to have a lot on his mind
Unless the six applicants appeal to the Supreme Court this case is now over, but the robocall affair is not.
Elections Canada's Commissioner continues his investigation of the fraud that occurred in 2011.
And there is that ongoing criminal court case against junior Guelph Conservative staffer, Michael Sona.
Judging by what he is communicating on Twitter (@MichaelSona), it will be very interesting to hear what Sona has to say once he gets on the stand, in court.
In the first place, Sona believes the party threw him "under the bus" and has said that, in so many words.
More to the point, Sona thinks that, despite the appearance of "vindication", the Mosely decision very much condemns the Conservative Party and its tactics.
Just read this one Twitter exchange between Sona and an obvious Conservative loyalist who calls him/herself 'Legacy' (@cinnamousin):
Legacy : Conservative candidates were vindicated. Only media want to keep it alive.
Michael Sona: You clearly didn't read the judge's decision...
Legacy : You clearly read the decision with pink coloured glasses. MPs we're vindicated and left in office!
Michael Sona: Decision said fraud happened in many ridings, CPC data used, and CPC tried to derail invstgn. Vindication, eh?
Legacy: Did you have a role in these allegations?
Michael Sona: No. And not an allegation: was a legal finding by a Federal Court Justice.
There's a lot more where that came from; and it is hard not to conclude that Sona knows a fair bit about what the national Conservative Party was up to during the 2011 campaign.
He seems almost anxious to get an opportunity to share what he knows.
For now, we will have just to stay tuned.
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