Monday, June 29, 2015

Reprobate Redux

For your Monday discernment, I offer this volley of wise observations about that unrepentant felon, Dean Del Mastro, from the usual suspects - Toronto Star readers:

Re: Ex-Tory MP Del Mastro sentenced to month in jail, June 26
Finally a crooked Conservative gets a jail sentence, proclaiming his innocence all the way. In fact, he has the nerve to say, “that’s her opinion,” when the judge declared him guilty of election fraud. Yes, Dean Del Mastro, that is her opinion, her legal opinion, that is.

When is Stephen Harper going to learn that blind loyalty to him isn’t half as important as being honest? I also wonder when all members of the press are going to stop slavishly following Harper around, hoping for some little crumb of a quote when most of us don’t care where he is or what he says.

In fact, since he seems to have a personal vendetta against the general public, why not just ignore him altogether and let his own spin doctors continue to spew the B.S. that he thinks we’re all going to believe.

I am really tired of the deterioration of my country’s standards and the chipping away of our democracy so that one person can wake up every day feeling in control. Mr. Harper, I can hardly wait until October when you face all of the voters whose jobs and rights you have so easily destroyed.

Of course then you will move on to all those oil and mining company boards whose stock holders you have so nicely taken care of. As long as you are not in Ottawa anymore.

Roseanne Quinn, Trenton

I find Dean Del Mastro’s behaviour in actively and most wilfully attempting to suborn the Canadian electoral process by committing electoral fraud and his failure to accept responsibility for his actions profoundly unsettling. Elections are a civic matter grounded in civic social trust and any breach in this trust is indeed most profoundly appalling.

Monte McMurchy, LL.D., Toronto

During his trial, and afterwards, Dean Del Mastro was not repentant and has shown no remorse for breaking the country’s election laws. His stupid, illegal behaviour has caused irrevocable damage to himself, his constituents, Parliament and the country.

That said, he should have been given a conditional sentence. The conditional sentence of imprisonment (or CSI) was introduced in Canada in 1996 as an alternate form of incarceration subject to specific criteria. It is not, as some assume, the same as probation.

In 2000, the Supreme Court clarified its use and differentiated it from probation. When the sentence is a term of imprisonment of less than two years, an offender deemed not to pose a danger to society is allowed to remain in the community, but with a more stringent set of conditions than offenders on parole. The offender must abide by a number of typically punitive conditions, such as house arrest and a strict curfew. If a condition is broken without a lawful excuse, the offender may well serve out the rest of the sentence in prison.

House arrest conditions can be designed to address the factors that led to the offence in the first place. Moreover, some conditional sentences force the offender to make reparations to the victim and the community while living under tight controls. Conditional sentences sustain Canada’s tradition of granting discretion and independence to the judiciary.

Canada’s growing prison population, mounting evidence that jail time does not reduce the chances of re-offending and other factors gave way to an increasing use of conditional sentences.

The illegal, stupid and irresponsible behaviour that Del Mastro indulged in that led to the charges can only be described as “tragic and senseless.” But the question must be asked: what would jail time accomplish that a conditional sentence could not accomplish?

In 2008-09, according to Statistics Canada, the number of offenders serving conditional sentences was 13,500 — a not insignificant number.

Denunciation and imprisonment satisfy society’s desire to punish offenders and reinforce shared values by deterring crime. However, there is little evidence to support the general deterrence argument — that is, that the more severe the punishment, the greater the deterrent effect. Research simply does not support that proposition.

Emile Therien, Ottawa

The Conservative law and order plan finally kicks in.

Bob Larocque, Carrying Place


  1. Could not help but laugh at Emile Therien's argument that Del Mastro should only have been given a conditional sentence, not jail time.

    Regardless of whether harsher jail sentences are correlated with more effective deterrent effect, Del Mastro's one month of jail time would appear extremely lenient when compared to Sona's 9 months jail time for his role in the robocalling/vote suppression. Both Del Mastro's and Sona's crimes were affronts to our democratic system of elections.

    Seriously, does this person think that anything less than jail time is going to make an impact on the behavior of people like Del Mastro or Sona?

    There are plenty of evidence of Deano's lack of remorse so it is a wonder that this person would think that a conditional sentence would convince him that he had sinned and to change his behavior.

    This way, at least it sends a message to all that if they attempt to subvert elections, they will become jail birds and the latter will be permanently on their records. Otherwise, people like Del Mastro will likely just laugh off their conditional sentences as a minor inconvenience.

    1. I agree with you totally, Anon. Even the one-month sentence the judge did impose will be reduced, according to a report I heard on CBC radio, to one week after parole is factored in.

      In sentencing, beyond questions of deterrence, surely the public's passion for some form of real justice must be considered.

  2. Lorne, I was surprised that Del Mastro was put in leg shackles. I thought leg shackles were used for murderers only or those criminals who present the risk of escaping. I believe that the leg shackles in itself is very humiliating and severe punishment.

    1. According to the OPP, who are in charge of prisoner transfers, his being led away in shackles is standard operating procedure, LD.

    2. Lorne, good for the OPP and Ontario. I hope this will send a strong message to the Canadian House of Commons and to the Senate to refrain from this kind of behaviour.