So let it be written…
After celebrating Canada’s 148th birthday I can’t help but think that this young country, swell as it is, is also quite strange.
Consider two recent news stories.
First, we have former Tory MP Dean Del Mastro.
Not just any old politician, this guy was the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper when the opposition was beating the government up over the Robocall
scandal. Del Mastro dismissed their allegations of electoral fraud as "baseless smears."
He was Harper’s handpicked spokesguy on ethics and matters electoral. He also sat on the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
Well, last Thursday Del Mastro was sentenced to one month in jail, and barred from running for public office for five years, for violating the Canada Elections Act during the 2008 federal election. He also has to pay $10,000 to the Peterborough Electoral District Association and will be on probation for 18 months once he gets out.
Of course, we Canadians hold dear our democracy. After all, thousands of Canadian men and women died in wartime to protect it, and thanks be to them, our country is not today some kind of Hitler state.
Judge Lisa Cameron, of the Ontario Court of Justice, convicted the former Peterborough MP of exceeding election spending limits, failing to report $21,000 in personal contributions to his campaign, and filing a falsified campaign report.
As far as words go, Cameron gave the disgraced former politician what-for when she sentenced him last week.
The judge said Del Mastro’s offences were the "antithesis" of democracy and "an affront to the principles of our democratic system."
She could have sentenced him to the maximum penalty, which is one year in jail and a $2,000 fine on each of the three counts. The Crown argued for a 12-month jail sentence. But I guess in Canada, committing the "antithesis" of democracy rates a single month in jail.
Del Mastro served one night. Sentenced Thursday, he was released on bail Friday pending an appeal of his convictions.
Whatever happens, he still gets to keep his MP pension.
Now, the second story. This one involves a young British fellow named Tom Rolfe. He didn’t get a month in jail, but he is being booted out of Canada.
Rolfe was given eight days to get out. His crime?
He helped his girlfriend fix up her Edmonton apartment.
Yes, to his shame, he helped fill up some cracks in her walls.
Immigration officials, in this great democracy of ours, subsequently rifled through his camera and – gasp – found pictures of this terrible indiscretion of his, helping his sweetheart. They decided Rolfe, who was here on a tourist visa, was guilty of denying a Canadian person a job.
So, here we have a federal politician who’s supposed to be a champion of ethics going to jail for one month for committing the "antithesis" of democracy, while another guy is being deported – deported, mind you – for doing handiwork.
Unreal, eh? Time to unleash some sanity, I say.
…So let it be done.
Tom Zytaruk is a staff writer with the Now.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org