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Fake 'Conservative Legacy Fund' Asks for Money to Support Election Law-breakers

Hoax website a bid to remind Canadians of the record, activist says.

By Andrew MacLeod 22 Sep 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative bureau chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, April 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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The hoax 'Conservative Legacy Fund' website was posted Sept. 20.

A Vancouver group has created a fake Conservative fundraising website in a bid to remind Canadians about the party's members who have been sentenced to jail time for breaking the country's election laws.

It's "quite likely" the Conservatives are preparing to break electoral laws again, said Sean Devlin, a comedian and executive director of the Shit Harper Did website, referencing three instances of law or rule breaking by the party or its members since 2008.

On Sunday night, the Shit Harper Did group published a fake Conservative Legacy Fund website that purported to be raising money for former MP Dean Del Mastro and former junior party official Michael Sona, both of whom the courts found guilty in recent years of election-related crimes.

An official answering the Conservative party's media line yesterday said that the website is not the party's creation and that nobody from the party would comment further.

"Dean Del Mastro and Michael Sona both sacrificed their personal freedom to ensure Conservative victories in federal elections," the fake website said. "Their dedication to the core principles of the Conservative cause helped us lead Canada on a path to a future of unlimited possibility."

Site advertised on Facebook

The website noted that Del Mastro -- who in June was sentenced to a month in jail for campaign overspending, breaking his own spending limit and filing a false campaign report -- would receive a generous and "well-deserved" pension. The charges stemmed from the 2008 election in the Peterborough riding.

On the other hand Sona, sentenced in 2014 to nine months in jail plus a year on probation for his involvement in the 2011 Guelph robocalls scheme to discourage some 6,000 people from voting, would have no such financial support, it said.

Sona perhaps feels it's unfair that he takes the blame but doesn't get a pension, mused Devlin, noting that Del Mastro is eligible for $60,000 a year, a figure greater than what most Canadians earn.

Devlin questioned why Del Mastro should be able to keep a pension for a position the court found he broke laws campaigning for. "It brings into question the legitimacy of his pension."

Devlin said that Shit Harper Did spent $30 on Facebook to advertise the fake fundraising website to likely Conservative supporters.

The fake site included a link to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's real fundraising website, and by 8 a.m. on Monday 35 people had clicked on the link, he said. It was impossible to say how many of them may have donated to the party or how much, and it appears the party has since blocked the link from working, he said.

"I think the party has successfully convinced most of the public there were a few bad apples," Devlin said. But he said it's clear that Sona didn't act alone -- the judge who convicted Sona indicated as much -- and there appears to be a pattern in the party.

Besides the Del Mastro and Sona cases, Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley found that in the 2011 election there was evidence of fraud, but he declined to overturn six close Conservative victories since it was unclear the fraud affected the results.

Canada's election laws seem to be too weak since the legal repercussions aren't serious enough to deter Conservatives from breaking those laws, Devlin said.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Election 2015

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