Alberta election watchdog to continue naming people sanctioned for wrongdoing

Glen Resler takes over, after predecessor fined UCP members for fundraising violations and got fired

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta conference in Edmonton Alta, on Friday November 15, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta’s chief electoral officer has reversed course and will be posting the names of people and organizations fined or sanctioned for breaking elections laws.

The news comes a day after the Globe and Mail reported that chief electoral officer Glen Resler, following past practice, would not be naming violators as he takes over the files and responsibilities of fired election commissioner Lorne Gibson.

“In our review of this matter, we have determined that for all investigations disclosure will include all components found in the former election commissioner’s disclosure, including the names of individuals,” Pamela Renwick, spokeswoman for Resler, said in a statement Thursday.

Renwick said the office will be reposting findings and decisions made by Gibson and will continue doing so in future cases.

“All investigations staff are continuing in their roles and investigation work is continuing uninterrupted,” wrote Renwick.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said it’s good news that the names and sanctions will still be released, but added it speaks to a broader concern as Resler takes over Gibson’s job.

The United Conservative Party government passed legislation last week that fired Gibson and moved his staff to Resler’s office.

The NDP have argued that Premier Jason Kenney abused power in firing Gibson, who was investigating the UCP and had levelled more than $200,000 in fines to party members for fundraising violations tied to the 2017 leadership race won by Kenney.

Notley said the reason her NDP government created a dedicated elections investigator in 2018 was because it’s difficult for any quasi-judicial body, such as the chief electoral officer, to focus on advising, facilitating and administering rules while simultaneously trying to investigate and sanction.

That problem is compounded in the modern age, she said, as schemes to skirt election rules become more widespread and sophisticated.

“When you’re a facilitator and adviser it becomes very difficult to then become an investigator and enforcer,” said Notley.

That dual mindset was reflected in the chief electoral officer previously not naming rule violators, she added.

“It’s evidence of a culture that, separate and apart from anything else, could likely temper the vigilance and the tenacity of investigators and enforcement players within the (reunited) chief electoral office.”

Notley also suggested that Gibson’s firing is having a chilling effect on investigators.

Gibson’s dismissal was part of an omnibus bill on reforming agencies, boards and commissions. The bill moved his job and five staff positions to Resler’s office, but specified that Gibson’s contract would be terminated.

The bill was introduced, debated and signed into law at breakneck speed while Kenney was on a trade mission in Texas.

Kenney has said the bill was apolitical. He noted that all investigations are continuing and that splitting the two positions was inefficient and a waste of money.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

The Association of Communities Against Abuse continues to build awareness and offer support

A new support and empowerment group has also been started in Stettler

Lighting up the neighbourhood for a terrific cause

Every year, the Maruk family puts up an amazing Christmas lights show

Histories of our treasured Christmas traditions

Why we do what we do during the festive season

The best caesar in Canada can be found in Sylvan Lake

Kjeryn Dakin’s Tragically Hips caesar won the national Best Caesar in Town competition

Stettler Festival of Lights brings in a net profit of more than $103,000

“I am always overwhelmed by the generosity of this town and surrounding areas.”

VIDEO: Merriam-Webster declares ‘they’ its 2019 word of the year

Declared word of year based on a 313-per-cent increase in look-ups on the company’s search site

Alberta premier opens war room to promote ‘truth’ about energy industry

Effort includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Thunberg ‘a bit surprised’ to be Time ‘Person of the Year’

‘I could never have imagined anything like that happening,’ she said in a phone interview

Toronto Raptors, Don Cherry top the list of Canadians’ Google searches in 2019

‘Champions’ was the theme of the last year, Google said

Day parole revoked for man who strangled wife, buried body in their Calgary home

Parole Board revoked Allan Shyback’s day parole after he had sex with a massage parlour worker

Alberta plans to reduce surgery wait-times by building operating rooms, using private clinics

Health minister says goal is to have 80,000 more surgeries done over the next 3 1/2 years

Sylvan Lake woman charged with fraud over $500,000

Rimbey RCMP launched an investigation in July 2019 with the suspect turning herself in on Aug. 30

Most Read