UCP introduces bill to fire Alberta elections commissioner

EDMONTON – The Alberta government introduced legislation to eliminate the standalone elections commissioner’s office.

The ruling UCP government said Bill 22 is aimed at eliminating unnecessary government spending, improve the efficiency and oversight of public agencies and increase the value of taxpayer investments.

Our government promised Albertans we would live within our means.”

Travis Toews, Minister of Finance
Travis Toews, Minister of Finance

“Our government promised Albertans we would live within our means,” said Travis Toews, Minister of Finance Monday. “Bill 22 ensures publicly owned enterprises and agencies, boards and commissions provide the best value to the taxpayer and deliver the results Albertans expect,”

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, however, called the move “corrupt” and an attack on democracy.

“In Bill 22, Jason Kenney has proposed to fire the very individual investigating the UCP leadership race for fraud,” said Notley in a statement Monday.

This is unprecedented. It’s the most corrupt action I have seen taken by a political leader in Canada.”

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley

“This is unprecedented. It’s the most corrupt action I have seen taken by a political leader in Canada.”

The former NDP government created the commissioner’s role after introducing new rules banning union and corporate donations and limiting campaign contributions.

The former NDP government created the commissioner's role after introducing new rules banning union and corporate donations and limiting campaign contributions. Click To Tweet

The independent officer of the legislature has already levied $211,000 in penalties against people and organizations involved with Jeff Callaway’s campaign. Callaway ran for the UCP leadership in 2017.

The Callaway campaign allegedly funnelled money to Callaway so he could allegedly smear Brian Jean, a former Wildrose Party Leader, who was also in the leadership race. The alleged aim was to have Callaway question Jean’s record and allow now Premier Jason Kenney to stay above the fallout.

The commissioner’s 2018-19 annual report said that from July 2018 to March 2019, his office received 451 complaints with 74 complaints resulting in investigations that led to 44 offences found by 36 people or organizations.

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Bill 22, the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, would allow election commissioner Lorne Gibson to be fired and his staff transferred to the office of Alberta’s chief electoral officer.

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If Bill 22 passes, the chief electoral officer would be responsible for hiring a new elections commissioner to monitor campaign donation rules. A new chief electoral officer or commissioner wouldn’t be obligated to continue any investigations that Gibson has underway.

-george@albertapressleader.ca

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