Andrew Prescott, a Conservative campaign worker in Guelph in 2011, accused his party of a "widespread, well-organized" scheme to suppress votes through deceptive calls during the last campaign.
The campaigner made those accusations on Facebook, in a communication to fellow Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona, who is now on trial for willfully preventing a voter from voting.
Prescott, who was the Guelph Conservative candidate's deputy campaign manager during the last campaign, now says he didn't really mean it when he wrote those words. He was angry at the Party, he claims, and just wanted to lash out.
Prescott has good reason to make nice, now. He is a key prosecution witness against his former colleague.
Sona is the only person charged in the so-called "robocall" case. Prescott has an immunity agreement with the Crown protecting him from prosecution.
Despite Prescott's disavowal of the harsh words he put on Facebook, Sona's defence lawyer asked the prosecution's star witness to read the damning post into the record.
Here it is:
It's now crystal clear to all but the most rabid partisans that something amiss occurred during the 2011 election. It's also patently obvious that what went on across the country was definitely not the work of any 'lone staffer' on a single campaign as we have heard repeatedly from Conservative spokespersons.
This scheme was clearly wide-spread, national and well organized. It required access, and ultimately complicity from someone higher up in the campaign in order to accomplish.
While I don't for a moment believe such actions were condoned by the national campaign, it's painfully clear to all now that the Party is seeking to misdirect Canadians by accusing 'local staffers' of what was a national crime.
It's not the break-in that will get them in the end, it's the coverup.
Every time you hear the 'lone staffer' talking point, they're lying to Canadians. Whoever came up with that ridiculous line should be fired immediately, as they have lost all credibility with the media and Canadians. We, Canadians and Conservative Party members, want nothing but the truth.
The Commissioner of Elections reported not too long ago that he and his office could not uncover enough evidence to affirm there was a national effort to deceive non-Conservative voters.
One of the reasons his investigation came to naught was the Commissioner's inability to compel those who might have information to share it with him.
A number of well-placed people with potentially important information on this case benefited from the services of high-cost Conservative lawyers and flatly refused to co-operate.
In other, similar white collar crime investigations -- such as those of the Ontario Securities Commission, to name just one example -- the authorities have the power to get past potential witnesses' stentorian guards of lawyers and communications specialists.
They have the power to compel folks to answer questions.
The Conservative government pointedly refused to grant that power to the Commissioner of Elections in its now notorious Fair Elections Act.
In 2012, six voters in six different ridings, supported by the Council of Canadians, went to court seeking to have the results of the 2011 election in those ridings overturned. They did so, they said, because misleading calls to voters from fraudsters pretending to be with Elections Canada perverted the result.
In his decision of May 2013, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley did not overturn the election results. He did, however, rule that he was convinced those fraudulent calls did happen on a widespread scale.
This is some of what Judge Mosely had to say:
I am satisfied that is has been established that misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country, including the subject ridings, and that the purpose of those calls was to suppress the votes of electors who had indicated their voting preference in response to earlier voter identification calls.
The calls struck at the integrity of the electoral process ... This form of 'voter suppression' was, until the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country.
The evidence presented in these applications 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.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.