An Ontario judge has thrown out a portion of the case brought against one of the principals of the Canadian energy firm which is seeking to establish a presence here.
The judge has ruled that Elections Canada investigators violated the charter rights of David Del Mastro, who is accused of illegally funnelling money to a Conservative candidate in the 2008 federal election.
Ontario Court Justice Elinore Ready threw out all evidence seized as a result of that violation, which she deemed a “fishing expedition” into the business records of Del Mastro.
That evidence, however, makes up only part of the case against Del Mastro, whose trial is now set to continue in a Brampton, Ontario, court on April 26.
David Del Mastro stands accused of concocting a scheme to illegally bundle CAN$22,000 (Bds$33,660) in donations to his cousin Dean Del Mastro’s re-election campaign in Peterborough in the brief, hectic election of 2008, according to a report out of Canada.
The Crown claims David Del Mastro had 22 employees at his company, Deltro Electric Ltd, donate $1,000 (Bds$1,530) each to either Dean Del Mastro’s campaign or his Peterborough riding association. He then allegedly reimbursed the employees through his company, with cheques for $1,050 ($1,606.50) each.
The goal of the plan was to allegedly circumvent the statutory limits on the size of individual donations, or the ban on corporate donations, to federal political campaigns.
The purported scheme first came to light in three stories published by the Ottawa Citizen. Those stories in turn prompted Elections Canada to launch its own investigation, which saw the agency interview employees and obtain business, banking and other records from Deltro.
David Del Mastro’s defence had claimed that virtually all that documentary evidence was seized illegally, due to shoddy search warrant applications.
Ready rejected some of those claims. In a lengthy oral ruling that stretched nearly two hours, Ready called Ronald Lamothe, the main Elections Canada investigator, a “credible witness” who provided “full, fair and frank” disclosure in his application to search Deltro’s banking records.
However, she found a subsequent application to search two years worth of Deltro’s corporate records “a massive over seizure” that resulted in a “serious breach” of Del Mastro’s rights under Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Elections Canada, she ruled, had a legitimate right to search records in and around the campaign period. However, by asking for, and obtaining, the right to go after much more, the investigators committed a “deliberate,” and “totally unnecessary” overreach.
The court, Ready said, could not condone that behaviour. As a result, she tossed out all evidence obtained through that search, as well the evidence from a subsequent search conducted at Deltro’s accountancy firm.
Investigators and police officers, just like politicians and others involved in the political process “should not be above the law,” Ready said. “If we are going to prosecute individuals, let’s do it the right way.”
Dean Del Mastro was convicted and sentenced to one month in jail in an unrelated campaign financing scheme last June. He has since appealed.
The duo had told Barbados TODAY in an interview last December that they would be setting up a Bds$26 million solar manufacturing plant in Barbados early this year.
It is not certain if they would still be setting up operations here. However, they said at the time that a location had already been identified for the facility, which was expected to hire more than 160 people once in full operation.
They said at the time that the price of electricity was high and that they would play “a big role” in expanding the local solar industry and transitioning Barbados to “a centre of excellence” in renewable energy.