Leef distances himself from robocall cost filing

Ryan Leef was not involved in a filing asking for $355,907 in costs for the robocalls court case, he said. The request was made by the legal team for the group of Conservative MPs.

Ryan Leef was not involved in a filing asking for $355,907 in costs for the robocalls court case, he said.

The request was made by the legal team for the group of Conservative MPs, including Leef, whose ridings were challenged after fraudulent calls attempted to dissuade people from voting.

“In terms of the rationale behind it or how they totalled up that number is outside of my realm of influence or interest,” said Leef.

The court challenge, brought forward by a group of constituents, sought to overturn the 2011 election results in several ridings. But it ultimately failed, as the judge found insufficient evidence to show that election results would have been different had the robocalls not occurred.

It was a victory for Leef and his fellow MPs, for whom the court decision affirmed their right to political office and the validity of the election results.

But that victory was tempered by Judge Richard Mosley’s written decision on the case, which was highly critical of the Conservative MPs’ legal team and its “transparent attempts to derail this case.”

The team brought forward six preliminary motions before the proceedings, all designed to either have the case thrown out or make it more difficult for the applicants to bring the challenge forward.

Each time, the judge threw out the motion.

As a result, the judge ordered the MPs to pay to the applicants all costs associated with defending against each of those motions.

With respect to the primary hearing on whether the elections results should be overturned, the judge said he would grant a “modest fixed amount” in costs to the Conservative MPs.

The $355,907 fits that bill, according to the Conservatives’ legal team.

Tom Parlee, the Yukon resident who brought the challenge forward for this riding, called that amount “outrageous.”

“I don’t know how much their total bill was, but if that’s a modest cost, then they must have spent several fortunes,” he said.

Indeed, Leef said that his side’s total legal bill was likely over $2 million, although he acknowledged that he was speculating.

The Council of Canadians, who fundraised for legal costs on behalf of Parlee and the other applicants, has spent about $600,000 to date, according to Garry Neil, the council’s executive director.

Leef, for his part, maintains that the whole court proceeding was a waste of resources that didn’t get us any closer to finding out who is behind the robocall scandal and how they will be held to account.

“We really should have been spending our time focusing on the support of Elections Canada, and if that money and time and direction had gone to helping them with their investigation, that would have been a far better use of financial resources than battling out procedural motions in court and having one over another have speculation and conjecture of survey results and consultants debating each other’s research methodology and those sorts of things.”

Despite the fact that the case affirmed the results of the election that named him MP of the Yukon, Leef said the proceeding was “distracting” and served only to generate “interesting media buzz.”

He’s got other things to spend his time on, he said.

“I’ve quite simply focused on what I do as a member of Parliament here.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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