New Robocall Information: Hamilton’s Involvement

November 14, 2013

The Michael Sona robocalls case was back in a Ottawa Court yesterday.  Under cross-examination Elections Canada investigator Allan Mathews delivered new information that was previously subject to a publication ban.

Full details of yesterday’s events were reported on by Stephen Maher and Glenn McGregor (Post Media) and Laura Payton (CBC).  Links to their excellent articles are below:

Maher/McGregor: Michael Sona ‘bragged’ about deceptive robocall, six Conservative staffers told investigators

Payton: Robocalls investigator details Conservative role in interviews

Questionable Involvement of Conservative Party Lawyers

There have been numerous questions raised with respect to Conservative Party counsel Arthur Hamilton’s involvement in robocall investigation.

I have previously written on the unusual circumstances of Mr. Hamilton’s involvement in the Elections Canada investigation: Lawyers, Robocalls, and Interviews, Lawyers and Robocall Investigation – Part 2.

It is most unusual for a lawyer to be permitted to be present when investigators interview a witness.  It is unheard of for the same lawyer to be permitted to attend multiple interviews of different witnesses.  This can raise the specter of contamination of the evidence. 

The strange case of Arther Hamilton raises further murky questions because he was not counsel for the witnesses that were interviewed.  He was counsel for the Conservative Party – a third party who obviously has an interest in the case. 

Whose interest was Mr. Hamilton representing?  Who did he take instructions from? Who was he reporting to?  Who was he sharing information with?  Why was present and in some cases directing the questioning in these important interview?   

I have commented on the ethical razor’s edge that Mr. Hamilton may be walking involving his involvement as Conservative Party counsel in the Senate scandal: The PMO, Arthur Hamilton, the Senate, and the Razor’s Edge.  The same can be said with respect to the robocall investigation.

New Information

It was revealed yesterday just how vital the witness interview (which Hamilton attended) were to Election Canada’s investigation.  Indeed appears that most of the information implicating Mr. Sona (and by extension distancing the Conservative Party from the scandal) originated from these witness interviews.

Information reported yesterday raises further questions about Mr. Hamilton’s involvement.  Post Media reports:

During cross-examination in the hearing, Mathews said that he was contacted by party lawyer Arthur Hamilton in March 2012 and told of three witnesses that might have information relevant to his investigation into election-day robocalls in Guelph, Ont

Hamilton “phoned me and told me he had individuals he believed relevant to my investigation that he thought I should interview,” Mathews testified.

Not only did Mr. Hamilton attend the all the interviews as counsel for an interested party but he actually arranged the interview and produced the witnesses.

The CBC report also clarified Mr. Hamilton’s relationship with the various witnesses:

But the staffers weren’t directly employed by the party, Dearden said, in an exchange with Mathews.

“They’re not technically employees of the party… no, they’re not employees of the party, you’re right,” Mathews conceded.

Not only was Mr. Hamilton not the witnesses lawyer but the witnesses were not even employees of the Conservative Party.  Mr. Hamilton owed no duty to the witnesses.  He was not bound by rules of confidentiality or loyalty.

Mr. Hamilton ‘s level of involvement is simply unheard of and this alone should attract close scrutiny. 

He arranged the interviews;He attended the interviews;He directed some questioning in the interviews;He was not counsel for the witnesses;He was counsel for an interested party; andThe witnesses were not even employees the party Mr. Hamilton represented

It is a well known legal principle that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. Sadly, Mr. Hamilton’s involvement in the investigation runs the real risk of frustrating both.