Alberta Politics

Pulling the strings on the UCP’s frantic calls for an election

On the surface, it’s pretty obvious why the UCP is calling so loudly for the writ to be dropped. But when one looks a bit deeper, you start to question the motivations.

Sure, conservatives of some flavour haven’t had the displeasure of being in opposition for more than 100 years prior to 2015’s surprise election of the NDP. Sure, their core base of big oil companies and those employed by them have felt the pinch since a coincidental downturn in world prices, an inept bungling of a hail Mary pipeline project, and an activist government that has only recently come around to the value that having a strong energy sector holds for an Alberta government of any ideological stripe.

But as with most things in politics, not everything is as simple as it seems.

Today it was announced the Alberta Elections Commissioner fined UCP Kamikaze leadership candidate Jeff Callaway’s campaign manager a total of $15,000 for obstructing his investigation into allegations that an interference campaign and illegal donations were made in an effort to marginalize Brian Jean’s leadership aspirations.

I have it on good authority that donations were made illegally by folks in the senior ranks of some of the leadership campaigns on behalf of people that were only tangentially connected, without their knowledge, and against the new laws laid out in Elections Finance & Contributions Disclosure Act (EFCDA).

Who doesn’t love a surprise tax receipt for a $4000 political contribution?

This in addition to allegations by former UCP MLA Prab Gill about a scheme to commit fraud with votes in the leadership race using VPNs in a “warehouse” where real people who were signed up for memberships, had their voting PINs intercepted and utilized to secure the leadership for the eventual ‘winner’ Jason Kenney. This allegation is potentially being investigated by the RCMP, who have at least acknowledged that letter from the former MLA.

Interestingly the other two final contestants, Brian Jean & Doug Schweitzer also made similar allegations of irregularities during the commencement of the voting period, but those concerns were brushed aside by the Leadership Election Committee at the time.

There’s clearly a sense of urgency to get an election out of the way prior to the Election Commissioner and the RCMP having the chance to pull these strings fully.

It’s part of why I think the NDP should pass a bill to withdraw the fixed election window legislation and remain in government until spring 2020.

Albertans deserve to know what they’re truly getting before they vote. And we can’t have a Premier that has the keys to the castle and ability to eliminate the Elections Commissioner under the guise of fiscal prudence before we know the full truth.

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