OTTAWA - Michael Sona has joined the ranks of other jilted Conservatives who suddenly find themselves defended and used by the official Opposition.
The young Tory staffer recently resigned as assistant to MP Eve Adams after unidentified sources were quoted as saying the Conservative party was investigating his possible role in placing controversial robocalls in Guelph, Ont., during the last federal election.
The sources were first mentioned in a report by the Sun News network.
No evidence has emerged yet that suggest Sona was involved, and he has insisted he had nothing to do with alleged voter suppression when he worked on the local campaign.
Now the official Opposition is holding him up as proof the Conservatives are trying to cover up the actions of more senior operatives. Elections Canada is currently investigating the Guelph matter, and has received thousands of contacts from Canadians on the robocall issue.
"We now understand that the Conservative party leaked the name of a 23-year-old staffer and tried to finger him as the mastermind behind this corruption," said NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus.
"Why are the Conservatives so desperate to throw this kid under the bus? Who are they hiding and why are they using him as their victim to protect the party?"
Added colleague Alexandre Boulerice: "From the beginning, they want us to be believe that a volunteer orchestrated electoral fraud of this degree with no help, as if Michael Sona has the money, technological resources and access to lists to organize thousands of fraudulent calls."
Other Conservatives have also been suddenly held up as unwitting victims by the opposition in other controversies.
Former junior cabinet minister Helena Guergis went from pariah to cause celebre on the opposition benches after she was turfed from caucus by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Bloc Quebecois suggested former staffer Sebastien Togneri had been "thrown to the lions" when he resigned after being found to have meddled in a number of access-to-information files.
The Bloc and the Liberals said Togneri couldn't have been operating without the knowledge of more senior Conservatives.
Dean Del Mastro, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, responded to the Sona questions by repeating the government's counter-attacks on the NDP and particularly the Liberals.
"What we know is that the NDP has had to apologize for a number of outrageous allegations and smears that it has made recently," Del Mastro said.
"We know that the opposition in fact placed illegal calls in the last election. We call on them to co-operate and participate with Elections Canada so it can get to the bottom of this."
Many Canadians have come forward to say they received misleading calls during the last federal election that directed them to an erroneous polling station to vote.
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