Michael Sona, a former Conservative campaign worker in the riding of Guelph, this morning begins his second day on trial for “wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting,” or, for the politically in-tune, committing a robocall. If convicted, Michael Sona will face five years in prison, and the Conservative party will be directly tied to the 2011 scandal, where voters received automated calls with instructions to go to incorrect polling stations from a “Pierre Poutine.”
Yesterday’s proceedings went smoothly enough, with one of Sona’s colleagues testifying that “He mentioned about calling Liberal supporters late at night, like 11 o’clock at night, to make them mad, that type of thing.” The Conservative candidate for Guelph in 2011, Marty Burke, denies any knowledge of the robocalls.
Today will likely be far more substantial, as we’ll hear the testimony of Andrew Prescott, who handled IT for the campaign, and liaised with RackNine, a company hired to make automated calls. To be clear, no one is denying that automated calls were made, it’s whether they were on behalf of the Conservative party, or fraudulently masquerading as Elections Canada officials in order to suppress votes. If they were on behalf of the Conservative party, that’s one thing. If they were masquerading as Elections Canada… That’s pretty illegal as far as election laws go.
Prescott agreed to testify on the condition of being granted immunity in the trial, so his hands are likely covered in blood that he’ll be spreading around throughout the day. Usually, if you need to ask for immunity before talking, you’re about to tell the world you’ve done something relatively illegal. Strangely, Burke’s former campaign manager, Ken Morgan, moved to Kuwait, and will not be testifying.
Elections Canada has concluded that there is little evidence of a coordinated effort to suppress votes across the country, though incidents in individual ridings, like Guelph, warrant further investigation. This is that further investigation. Let’s see if Prescott smears the blood on his hands all over Sona’s terrified face.