Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro distanced himself from a statement his office issued attacking a Postmedia reporter who wrote about the investigation into his campaign finances.
“We’re glad to hear that Elections Canada is attempting to determine whether documents produced by Mr. Del Mastro’s accuser are doctored or false,” Del Mastro’s office stated in a release.
“It is worth keeping in mind that Postmedia recently retracted a story written by controversial reporter Stephen Maher because it made false claims against a Conservative riding association.”
Initially, Del Mastro denied the statements were his.
“Those comments are from the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said. “I’m not making any comments on it.”
But a PMO spokesperson told QMI Agency it didn't come from them.
Del Mastro later admitted the release from his office was based on talking points put together by the PMO.
“They’re my statements,” Del Mastro later said. “I did not write them. I agree with them.”
The statement refers to a Nov. 23 story, in which Maher reported that several people listed as donors to a Tory riding association in Montreal denied making the donations.
After the story appeared, the party released copies of the cheques and Postmedia published a follow-up story on Nov. 24, saying it didn't “intend to suggest any impropriety” by anyone involved in the fundraising.
“Postmedia has never issued a retraction for any story that I have written and I don’t consider myself to be controversial,” Maher said.
Del Mastro met with an Elections Canada investigator in August and said his office has handed over all requested documents.
In court documents, Elections Canada investigator Thomas Ritchie alleges Del Mastro knowingly exceeded the 2008 campaign spending limit by about $17,850, that he tried to cover up the violation by paying for $21,000 worth of voter contact calls from his personal bank account and that his campaign created a false document to hide the expense.
Elections Canada has launched a separate investigation into allegations that donors who contributed about $20,000 to Del Mastro’s 2008 re-election campaign were reimbursed by a company owned by the MP’s cousin.
The allegations haven’t been proven in court and Del Mastro has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was the Conservative government’s spokesperson for the robocall scandal last year. When the allegations about his 2008 campaign financing emerged, he largely slipped out of public view.