Dean del Mastro, my disgraced former MP, has been sentenced for his crimes.
He will be required to pay reparations of $10,000 to the Conservative electoral association. He will serve one month in prison, four months house arrest, and eighteen months probation, and is also automatically banned from running for public office for five years.
I am of the personal opinion that he deserved the maximum sentence of twelve months prison time, but it is what it is. Considering that many believed he would receive a conditional sentence and therefore be eligible to run in this autumn’s election (and the local Tory riding association has been stalling their candidate choice, perhaps against that possibility?) I feel a certain amount of relief that won’t be the case.
A custodial sentence, as Justice Lisa Cameron stated this morning, is appropriate considering the high degree of moral culpability for his crime. It is worth noting that del Mastro’s co-defendant and official elections agent, Richard McCarthy, was found to have “lesser moral culpability” and received a one month conditional sentence of house arrest and twelve months of probation.
Yesterday del Mastro filed an appeal of his conviction and his lawyer will likely argue that he should remain out of jail on bail, pending the resolution of that appeal. It’s entirely possible that he won’t actually be spending any time in prison for the foreseeable future, but I suspect that whatever the outcome, del Mastro’s political career is effectively over. By the time he’s eligible to run for political office again, two federal elections down the road, the political landscape will have changed so much that he’ll won’t have enough favours to compensate for the enormous political drag of this conviction, even if he wanted to.
As a federal political candidate, Dean del Mastro is finished. Provincially, same problem. I suspect he probably could get elected to a municipal office in a few years, especially locally, but he’ll have an uphill fight.
So… this is good, right?
Not really. It’s good that a politician convicted of electoral fraud will be publicly punished as an example to the next dishonest shithead to come down the turnpike, but I don’t feel any triumph. This whole situation has been a demonstration of the flaws of Canadian electoral law and the parliamentary system. While it wasn’t mentioned in the trial, del Mastro used the shield of parliamentary privilege to effectively ruin Frank Hall, the whistleblower who went to Elections Canada with evidence of del Mastro’s wrongdoing. Despite his conviction, the net damage that del Mastro has caused to voter confidence and public cynicism is enormous.
As I write this, the court is in recess. Del Mastro and his wife are reportedly weeping in the courthouse hallway, surrounded by supporters who are denouncing Justice Cameron’s decision as “stupid.” Social media is going nuts.
I don’t feel particularly excited or triumphant about this. I can’t even muster the scathing contempt I’ve expressed in the past. Yes, I’m glad that justice has been served, and I do feel some satisfaction that the system has worked, at least a little, but mostly I just feel relief that this ugly spectacle is over.
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
–Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Casey at the Bat