An MP who once served as a Parliamentary aide to Stephen Harper is asking the RCMP to investigate Elections Canada, accusing the agency of leaking details of its investigation into him to the media.
Dean Del Mastro, who was elected as a Conservative but quit the governing caucus to sit as an Independent after being charged under the Canada Elections Act, wrote RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson in late April to press his case.
The Peterborough MP is accusing a particular Elections Canada official of these alleged leaks but would not identify this person when contacted last week.
He does, however, single out Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, for blame.
“Beginning in June 2012, I was specifically harmed through the leak of court sealed documents related to … proceedings undertaken by Elections Canada against me,” he wrote Commissioner Paulson.
Calling this a “malicious and planned attack,” Mr. Del Mastro alleges that such releases of information are “standard operating procedure at Elections Canada.”
He said that the Chief Electoral Officer is ultimately responsible for the conduct of his staff and for preventing what the MP alleges were a “series of deliberate leaks of sealed information from Elections Canada to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery” in Ottawa.
“Mr. Marc Mayrand ... is duty bound by statute to protect against this type of behaviour,” Mr. Del Mastro wrote.
It’s not often that a Canadian politician calls on the RCMP to investigate alleged leaks to the media. In 2013, the NDP asked the RCMP to investigate budget leaks but the force ultimately dropped the matter. In 2005, the New Democrats asked the Mounties to investigate leaks from the Department of Finance on income-trust policy.
Mr. Del Mastro said he’s justified in asking for this probe. He says that Elections Canada should be above reproach.
“I don’t think it’s unusual for an MP to demand that institutions of Parliament are in fact following their statutory obligations ... ultimately I think Canadians expect when we appoint people to significant positions overseeing the caretaking of our democracy that they are in fact doing so with the utmost respect for the institution and for their responsibility,” he said in an interview.
Mr. Del Mastro has previously raised public concerns about information leaking from Elections Canada – as far back as 2008.
The MP said he’s heartened by Mr. Paulson’s recent comments to the media about how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are not swayed by political considerations and how the Mounties safeguard their independence and integrity.
He presented to the RCMP what he said is evidence to support his allegations but declined to make this public when contacted last week.
Mr. Del Mastro is facing four charges in connection with allegations that he exceeded his campaign spending limit and filed a false accounting of the expenses incurred to win office in the 2008 federal election. His trial begins in June.
“These allegations will be brought before provincial court in Peterborough this summer where I will be putting forward a spirited and indisputable defence,” he wrote Commissioner Paulson.
The Peterborough MP tried to get Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to probe his allegations but she declined. “She feels that the required investigation is outside of her jurisdiction,” he wrote Commissioner Paulson.
Elections Canada declined comment on Mr. Del Mastro’s accusations of leaks from the agency. “We are not in a position to comment on matters that are before the court,” spokesman John Enright said.
The RCMP acknowledged that Commissioner Paulson’s office had received Mr. Del Mastro’s letter but had nothing to say about it. “It’s being reviewed, therefore it is too early for us to comment at this time,” spokeswoman Sergeant Julie Gagnon said.