Alberta election watchdog to continue naming people sanctioned for wrongdoing

Alberta election watchdog to continue naming people sanctioned for wrongdoing

EDMONTON — 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.

His office declined comment on the chief electoral officer’s announcement Thursday. It said Resler’s officer is independent and has the authority to make its own decisions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2019.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

The Red Deer Rebels allowed four straight goals from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night on the road. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers hand Red Deer Rebels 10th straight loss

Tigers 4 Rebels 2 Through 17 games in the shortened WHL season,… Continue reading

Meghan Huizing has been selected by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools as a finalist for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) 2021 Edwin Parr Award. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools)
Red Deer Catholic names finalist for Edwin Parr Award

Meghan Huizing from St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds has… Continue reading

GrammaLink-Africa members are participating in the Stride to Turn the Tide campaign until June 30. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer group walking to raise money for African grandmothers

A group of central Albertans will be walking every day until the… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Montreal Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli celebrates his goal past Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Toffoli scores twice, Canadiens put some distance on Flames with 2-1 win

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Canadian prop Jake Ilnicki savouring life in Seattle, looks forward to facing Arrows

Corey Conners, of Canada, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the final round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Sunday, April 11, 2021. Conners notched six birdies on his back nine to take the lead after his second round of the RBC Heritage on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum
Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Canadian Corey Conners surges into lead at PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Patrick Marleau poised to break Gordie Howe’s games record

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Canada serves to Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Rebecca Marino propels Canada into 2-0 lead over Serbia at Billie Jean King Cup

Dalton Kellett pulls out of the pits during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Dalton Kellett is pleased his second career season in IndyCar will be different than his first, which started on an elaborate iRacing rig in his home office in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darron Cummings
Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada’s Dalton Kellett set for a more stable season as an IndyCar driver

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Canadian women get peek at their possible road at Olympic soccer tournament

Head coach John Tait talks to his team as Canada takes on Japan in women's sevens rugby action at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Rugby Canada says probe into complaint from members of women’s 7s team is complete

Most Read