He has been charged under Section 491.3(d) of the Canada Elections Act,
491. (3) Every person is guilty of an offence who
(a) being a deputy returning officer, contravenes any of section 212, subsections 213(1) and (4) and 214(1), section 257 and subsection 258(3) (failure to perform duties with respect to receipt of vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(b) being a special ballot officer, contravenes any of subsections 267(1) and (2), section 268 and subsections 269(1) and (2) (failure to perform duties re counting of the vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(c) being a deputy returning officer or poll clerk, contravenes subsection 276(1), being a deputy returning officer, contravenes subsection 277(1), being a poll clerk, contravenes subsection 277(2), being a deputy returning officer, contravenes subsection 277(3), being a deputy returning officer or poll clerk, contravenes subsection 278(1) or (3) or, being a deputy returning officer, contravenes section 279, (failure to perform duties re counting of the vote) with the intention of causing the reception of a vote that should not have been cast or the non-reception of a vote that should have been cast;
(d) contravenes paragraph 281(g) or (h) (prohibited acts re special voting rules); or
(e) contravenes paragraph 282(a) or (b) (intimidation or inducement re vote under special voting rules).
281. (g) wilfully prevent or endeavour to prevent an elector from voting at an election; or
(h) wilfully at the counting of the votes, attempt to obtain information or communicate information obtained at the counting as to the candidate for whom a vote is given in a particular ballot or special ballot.
Sona’s lawyer says that this will give his client the opportunity to address the charges in court rather than the media, according to HuffPo.
UPDATE: Here is a more detailed statement from Sona’s lawyer via CBC,
Neither Mr. Sona or I will be making any public statements beyond the following statement at this time.
Although the charge is disappointing, it represents an opportunity for Mr. Sona to finally address the allegations in a court as oppose to in the media and resolve it permanently. I cannot help but comment, that if the government was interested in the public being fully informed and the issue of robocalls being properly addressed, a Full Public Inquiry would be called, rather than a charge laid against a single individual who held a junior position on a single campaign and who clearly lacked the resources and access to the data required to make the robocalls. I am confident the public agrees.
Counsel for Michael Sona
Bayne Sellar Boxall
(The somewhat conflicting statements regarding not trying the case in the media and the lawyer’s confidence in the public’s ability to discern Sona’s innocence are interesting)
The charges from Elections Canada come as vindication for Brian Lilley of Sun News who was first to report that Sona fingered by the Conservative Party as who they suspected completed the fraudulent Robocalls in Guelph.
Sona had made news earlier this year when he announced his intentions to testify against Sun News at upcoming CRTC hearings regarding the news channel’s application for license 1 status on Canadian cable.
— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) October 27, 2012
UPDATE: The Conservative Party has released a statement,
In 2011 we reached out to Elections Canada when we heard of wrongdoing in Guelph and did all we could to assist them.
We are pleased that Elections Canada’s work has progressed to this point.
The Conservative Party of Canada ran a clean and ethical campaign and does not tolerate such activity.
The Party was not involved with these calls and those that were will not play a role in any future campaign.
Voter suppression is extremely serious and those responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
We spent the entire campaign identifying supporters and we worked hard to get them out to vote.
Our job is to get votes out, we do not engage in voter suppression.
UPDATE: Official statement from Elections Canada,
Commissioner of Canada Elections Announces
the Laying of a Canada Elections Act Charge Following
the Investigation of Deceptive Telephone Calls
During the May 2011 General Election
OTTAWA, April 2, 2013
The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Mr. Yves Côté, has announced that pursuant to a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, his office has laid a charge under the Canada Elections Act, a federal statute.
The charge was filed on April 2, 2013 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Guelph.
Michael Sona is charged with having wilfully prevented or endeavoured to prevent an elector from voting at an election, contrary to paragraph 281(g) of the Canada Elections Act and by doing so committed an offence contrary to paragraph 491(3)(d) of the Canada Elections Act.
The charge relates to the investigation of deceptive telephone calls made to electors in the riding of Guelph during the 41st general election of May 2, 2011.
On polling day for the May 2, 2011 general election, many electors in Guelph reported receiving misleading automated telephone calls falsely informing them of changes to their assigned polling station.
Any action taken to deliberately misdirect electors and interfere with their right to vote under the Constitution and the Canada Elections Act is a serious offence. As a result, the Commissioner of Canada Elections immediately began investigating and submitted his findings to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Commissioner of Canada Elections is responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act and Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner under the Canada Elections Act.
“The strong public reaction to the fraudulent telephone calls made to electors in Guelph during the May 2011 general election shows how deeply disturbed Canadians were by what happened,” said Mr. Côté. “I hope that the charge we filed today will send a strong message that such abuses under the Canada Elections Act will not be tolerated.”
For information specific to this matter:
Public Prosecution Service of Canada Media Relations
or at www.ppsc-sppc.gc.ca
Elections Canada Media Relations
or at www.elections.ca