TORONTO — Ontario's highest court has upheld the sentence imposed on a former Conservative staffer convicted in the 2011 federal election robocalls scandal.
Michael Sona had asked Ontario's Court of Appeal to impose a shorter sentence than the nine months in jail he received in November 2014.
At the same time, Crown prosecutors asked the court to send Sona to jail for 20 months, arguing his earlier sentence wasn't harsh enough given the seriousness of his crime.
Michael Sona walks to the courthouse in Guelph, Ont., on June 4, 2014. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
The appeal court dismissed both Sona's and the Crown's appeals, saying the judge who issued Sona's sentence properly took into account the man's prospects for rehabilitation and individual circumstances, as well as the need to protect democratic institutions and processes from attack.
Sona, who is now 26, was the first person convicted of wilfully preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting under the Canada Elections Act.
The trial judge said he believed Sona did not act alone in a scheme in which some 6,700 automated phone calls were placed on the morning of the 2011 federal election, largely to numbers in Guelph, Ont., wrongly telling people their polling station had been moved to a different location.
The calls were organized and paid for by Sona, who was the director of communications for the Tory candidate in Guelph.
Political staffers testified at Sona's trial that the then 22-year-old had boasted about the scheme after the election.
The Crown suggested in its appeal that the trial judge lost sight of two major components of the crime which called for a higher sentence — a large scale fraud on the public and the deliberate subversion of democracy and the rule of law.
Sona's lawyer, however, argued that his client's nine-month sentence exceeded what was necessary for denunciation and deterrence.
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