With Michael Sona's trial expected later this year, the RoboCalls scandal has once again booted up, reminding Canadian voters of the corruption in the 2011 election.
The most recent thing to fall out of the back of that horse? Apparently one of Sona's co-conspirators has just been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony on what actually happened.
Prescott's name has come up in some of the court filings made by investigators from Elections Canada, although he has so far declined to be interviewed by them.
Prescott, who was paid a $1,000 stipend for his work on the campaign, including IT services, was the main contact with RackNine, the company whose services were used to make the illicit calls.
All political parties use robocalls, or automated calls, to reach voters. Robocalls are regulated but not illegal. The calls at the heart of the investigation in Guelph were illegal because Elections Canada believes they were meant to interfere with some voters' right to cast their ballots.The extent of Mr. Prescott's involvement is but one part of the issues that this whole debacle raises.
First, this speaks volumes about the laws and the powers conferred on Elections Canada to enforce elections law and to ferret out electoral misconduct. That Mr. Prescott has been able to "decline" to be interviewed by Elections Canada for this long is criminal. Clearly Elections Canada lacks the teeth to carry out the investigations effectively. There should be no "easy escape hatch" that enables someone to avoid being interviewed by investigators for years after an election that is suspect.
Second, it suggests that the notion of accountability in an election needs to be much different than it was. Elections Canada should be able to seize any and all evidence related to an election campaign immediately - including e-mail records, financial records etc. from campaigns the minute that there is a whiff of suspicion that there has been efforts to win the election by subverting the electoral process.
If you will, the Harper Government, and the CPC, have shown that they are willing to lie, cheat and steal to win an election. Elections Canada needs to have the tools at its disposal to move to intervene in these matters without the parties being able to weasel around and hide facts, evidence and people involved.
Seats where electoral fraud is alleged should be held as vacant until such times as the investigations are completed. If that means the government is missing a few MPs for a while, too bad. The price of running a crooked campaign should be high.