RCMP lay charge in connection with alleged O’Toole leadership campaign hack

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RCMP lay charge in connection with alleged O’Toole leadership campaign hack
WATCH: RCMP lay charge in connection with alleged O’Toole leadership campaign hack – Jul 14, 2022

RCMP have charged one person in connection with an alleged hack on Erin O’Toole‘s Conservative leadership campaign two years ago.

In response to a question from Global News, a spokesperson for the national policing force confirmed authorities charged Dion Ahwai with one count of mischief to data under Section 430 of the Criminal Code.

Specifically, the charge is under subsection 1.1 (c), which deals with mischief that willfully “obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use of computer data.”

Ahwai is now scheduled to appear before an Ontario court on Aug. 4, 2022.

“As the matter is before the courts, we will not provide further comments,” the force said.

Read more: Erin O’Toole accuses Peter MacKay of stealing campaign info, calls for police probe

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Mischief as a charge is one that carries a range of sentencing options if the accused if convicted.

While cases of mischief that endanger someone’s life can carry a sentence up to life imprisonment, mischief to property with a value of other $5,000 is an indictable offence punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or on summary conviction.

For property under the value of $5,000, mischief charges can also be indictable offences but have a maximum period of imprisonment of two years, or on summary conviction.

O’Toole office declined to comment on the laying of the charge on Wednesday, saying: “As this matter is before the courts, Mr. O’Toole will not be commenting.”

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In June 2020, O’Toole had accused the campaign of Peter MacKay, his rival in the party leadership race, of stealing “confidential” data and campaign strategy.

He said he had filed a complaint asking the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police and Toronto Police Service to probe “the theft of Zoom video conferences, including confidential campaign strategy video conferences, and of video conferences with Conservative Party members across Canada.”

O’Toole had also said the request for investigation followed an internal probe “after we discovered our systems were hacked earlier this week,” and alleged downloads of stolen information had taken place from Calgary and Toronto.

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‘Nasty exchanges’ in Conservative debate off-putting for voters: MacKay

In an email to Global News, MacKay said it was his understanding that Ahwai was contracted by a company that was in turn contracted by his leadership campaign.

“We would have had no way of vetting a contractor’s contractor,” MacKay said.

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He declined to comment further as the matter is before the courts, adding he has “no personal knowledge of this matter.”

At the time of the allegation, MacKay’s campaign dismissed it as part of a “desperate, last-ditch strategy” by the O’Toole team following what it called “a very bad week” of poor debate performances.

MacKay’s senior campaign organizer Jamie Lall, who was named in O’Toole’s original statement, later wrote on Twitter, “Not a single word of this is true.”

—With files from Global’s Sean Boynton and Bryan Mullan

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