The normally composed Dean Del Mastro lost his cool, lashing out at his accusers during a prolonged cross-examination as he angrily deflected suggestions that he wasn’t being entirely truthful with the court.
The amiable demeanour of the former Conservative – once the Harper government’s point man on defending the Tories against charges of voter fraud, now an Independent MP who faces Election Act charges of exceeding campaign spending limits – fell away under the heat of a day-long grilling in the witness box Friday.
“Your assertion is offensive,” Mr. Del Mastro told Crown lawyer Tom Lemon, angered by the suggestion that he’d engaged in prolonged contract negotiations with a data-consulting firm in hopes of recouping the cost of a software program he claims never worked.
Mr. Del Mastro is charged with overspending during the 2008 federal election campaign, failing to report a personal contribution of $21,000 to his own campaign and knowingly submitting a falsified document. He has denied all the allegations.
In the course of methodically challenging Mr. Del Mastro on a series of points, Mr. Lemon took him back to a series of e-mails the MP has flatly said are fake. They detail alleged discussions between Mr. Del Mastro and Frank Hall, president of the now-defunct Holinshed Research, whose work on the 2008 campaign forms the bedrock of the Elections Act charges.
Mr. Hall has testified that his company provided hundreds of hours of voter identification calling services for Mr. Del Mastro, for which the MP paid him with a personal cheque – a payment which would have put him over his campaign spending and personal contribution limits. Mr. Hall has also said he backdated invoices at Mr. Del Mastro’s request so that his firm’s services would be billed outside the campaign period.
But Mr. Del Mastro has repeatedly told the court he never engaged Holinshed for voter identification services during the 2008 campaign, despite Mr. Hall trying to persuade him to do so. Instead, he said he used Holinshed during the campaign only for a portion of get-out-the-vote calling services on election day.
He has said he did pay Mr. Hall with a personal cheque, but that was for a deposit for riding mapping software called GeoVote, to be shared by Mr. Del Mastro’s constituency office and the Peterborough Conservative Electoral District Association.