Ex-Tory staffer linked to '11 robocalls speaks out about latest scandal
An ex-Tory staffer who’s been linked to the robocalls scandal that followed the 2011 federal election says the Conservative Party has lost credibility in its handling of the latest controversy.
Michael Sona told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that he’s been portrayed as a rogue operative behind the thousands of calls made to the Guelph, Ont. riding that directed voters to go to the wrong polling stations.
However, as a new robocalls scandal emerges in Saskatchewan, which the Conservative Party has admitted it’s behind, Sona said very little has been revealed about the 2011 incident, which Elections Canada has been investigating for two years.
“There’s a situation here where you obviously got people that aren’t being straight up with the media, they’re not being honest with the public,” said Sona in an exclusive interview.
Automated calls were recently used in Saskatchewan to rally the public against proposed changes to riding boundaries, warning voters the changes would “destroy Saskatchewan values.”
A federal electoral boundaries commission is proposing to redistribute some of the 14 federal ridings in Saskatchewan to better reflect population growth in Regina and Saskatoon. But the Conservatives have decried the changes, as splitting urban and rural ridings could see the party lose some of its 13 seats in the province.
Party spokesman Fred DeLorey first denied that the Conservatives were behind the calls. However, the party later acknowledged it commissioned the calls and DeLorey admitted the calls should have been identified as coming from the Conservatives, saying the error was in “internal communication.”
Sona said Sunday it’s difficult to buy the party’s excuse.
“At the end of the day, everything is centralized at headquarters,” he said. “I don’t’ find that a very credible excuse.”
In 2011, Sona was in charge of communications for Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke. His named was anonymously leaked to the media in connection with the robocalls made in the riding. Sona has adamantly denied he was behind the calls, but shortly after the leak, he stepped down from a job working for Eve Adams, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
As the Elections Canada investigation into the 2011 calls continues, Sona said he’s been prevented from pursuing his own career in politics.
“I can’t really move on until they get to the bottom of it,” he said. “It seems very strange because it seems they have such a narrow focus on certain individuals that anonymous sources pointed out. But they’re not looking at some of the more pressing questions that this situation opened up this week.”
Sona said he has only been interviewed by an investigator once since he became tied to the scandal and he’s frustrated with the speed of the investigation.
“There are so many questions that have been asked and some answers that have been given that are not satisfactory in my opinion,” he said.
Sona pointed out that the same company implicated in the federal election robocalls scandal, Edmonton-based RackNine Inc., has been linked to situation in Saskatchewan.
“It’s almost like they expect that people just aren’t going to pay attention,” he said.