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Tory robo-calls point man denies exceeding campaign-spending limits

Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on June 7, 2012.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The chief defender of the Conservative Party's conduct in the robo-calls scandal is rejecting opposition calls to step down in the wake of revelations he is under investigation by Elections Canada for allegedly exceeding campaign spending limits.

Both the Liberals and NDP are calling for Dean Del Mastro to resign his post as parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister while he's the subject of a probe by the elections watchdog.

Mr. Del Mastro is reportedly under investigation by Elections Canada for allegedly exceeding his campaign spending limit in the 2008 election by $17,000. But he denies breaking election law.

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"I serve with integrity and conviction," he said. "My [campaign] statements that were provided in 2008 ... accurately reflect all expenditures incurred by both my campaign and my [riding] association," he told the Commons on Thursday.

"I have never been contacted by Elections Canada on this matter."

Mr. Del Mastro, speaking to The Globe before Question Period, said he can't even read the official accusations against him.

He said he is having trouble obtaining copies of the Elections Canada allegations against because, he's being told, the documents in question remain confidential under a judge's order.

Documents outlining Election Canada's case were obtained by Postmedia reporters this week.

On Thursday the Ontario MP said it's troubling that a reporter has obtained documents he can't access himself.

"I think MPs should find it very concerning that an agency of Parliament makes allegations and these documents are out there and have been released to a single source."

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Mr. Del Mastro has served as a public defender of the Conservative Party on a slew of Elections Canada controversies from robo-calls fraud in Guelph, Ont., to the so-called in-an-out financing scandal from 2006.

Last week he publicly challenged the Chief Electoral Officer to address whether the agency was leaking details of its robo-calls allegations. In response, Marc Mayrand said such a question smeared Elections Canada's reputation and denied the agency ever divulged privileged information.

Mr. Del Mastro says he never knew about this Elections Canada investigation into his 2008 campaign until a reporter in possession of court documents called him earlier this week.

The MP asked an Ontario court to provide him copies of the documents in question but was refused because, he was told, a judge has not yet ruled they can be made public.

Elections Canada is an independent agency that operates at arms-length from the government and its jobs includes safeguarding the conduct of election campaigns by policing the behaviour of political candidates.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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