OTTAWA — The Conservatives scrambled Thursday to distance themselves from fraudulent "robocalls" sent out during last year's federal election and attempted to direct blame toward a young campaign worker.
In response to a Postmedia News-Ottawa Citizen report that found an Elections Canada investigation has traced the robocalls to a call centre with Conservative connections, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied his party was involved in the attempt to mislead voters.
"In this case, our party has no knowledge of these calls," Harper told reporters in Iqaluit. "It's not part of our campaign."
Anyone found responsible would face the full consequence of the law, Harper said.
Later in the day, a Conservative-friendly media organization cited two anonymous Conservative party sources and reported that a staff member who had worked on the campaign of Guelph, Ont., Conservative candidate Marty Burke was a person of interest to the investigation...
....Sun Media's website ran a photograph of a Burke campaign worker, Michael Sona, standing next to Harper at what appears to be a campaign event, claiming he was involved in the calls. The photo is credited to the Prime Minister's Office.
Sona, 23, served as Burke's communications director during the campaign and is now an executive assistant to rookie Conservative MP Eve Adams on Parliament Hill.
Postmedia News contacted Sona earlier this week and asked him a series of questions about the robocalls but he did not respond.
Sona was not in Adams' office on Thursday afternoon. Asked if he would be returning, another staffer said, "Maybe."
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae dismissed the naming of Sona as a tactic, noting that he was identified only after the story surfaced.
"Why would they only find the guy today, after the story has come out? They've known about this allegation a long time."
Rae said the real blame for any election trickery rests with the political culture Harper has created in the party.
"The prime minister has created a Nixonian culture," Rae said. "This stuff doesn't happen unless the boss lets it happen."...