POLITICS

Michael Sona to learn today whether he'll be jailed over robocalls

11/19/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST
Close to three years after Michael Sona's name was first floated as the key suspect in the Guelph, Ont., robocalls investigation, he'll stand before a judge today to find out whether trying to interfere with the right of voters to cast ballots has earned him time behind bars.

Sona, 26, was the only person charged with planning and setting loose a misleading robocall that hit 6,000 voters in Guelph in an attempt to keep them from casting ballots in the May 2, 2011, federal election. He was found guilty in August and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The Ottawa Citizen first reported the investigation by Elections Canada at the end of February 2012, as well as the suspected link to the Conservative Party's voter database, CIMS. Sona's name was reported by another news agency soon after. He immediately quit his new job working for Conservative MP Eve Adams.

At last month's sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson said Sona should serve 18 to 20 months in jail because of the serious nature of the offence, and the attack on the electoral process and constitutional rights.​

The Crown also asked for community service, and stipulations that Sona not volunteer for political campaigns and apologize to Guelph residents. 

Michaelson said Sona has shown a complete lack of remorse and has told friends he is trying to rehabilitate his reputation. Michaelson said he needs to accept personal responsibility for his conduct.

Sona's lawyer, however, told the judge that Sona shouldn't be sentenced to jail time. Norm Boxall told the judge that the offence, while serious, is not one that requires Sona to be incarcerated for a lengthy time for the protection of society. 

Others may have been involved

Boxall submitted three sentences for the judge to consider:

- A suspended sentence with probation and 240 hours of community service.

- A short, sharp jail sentence of 14 to 30 days, served intermittently so he could continue to work.

- A conditional sentence of six to 12 months (served under house arrest) and community service.

Michaelson conceded he's willing to accept 18 to 20 months of house arrest, but said Sona shouldn't be allowed to work in that time.

While Sona has been found guilty, questions remain about who else may have been involved in the crime.

Judge Gary Hearn of Ontario Superior Court said in August that he is "fully satisfied" Sona at least aided or abetted those involved in what became known as the robocalls scandal, though he added he believes Sona had help from one or more people.

"The overheard conversations, Mr. Sona's inquiries of others, the matters set out in the agreed statement of facts and the disclosure in various conversations following May 2, 2011, are all factors that satisfy me beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Sona was involved with the creation and implementation of the scheme to direct voters to the wrong polling station on May 2, 2011," Hearn wrote in his verdict.