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

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

Just Posted

Update: Possible drowning at Pigeon Lake involved man and woman from Edmonton

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

RCMP investigate possible drowning at Pigeon Lake; Man and woman found dead on shore

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

134 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday

First day over 100 cases since July 31

RCMP Major Crimes Unit lay Manslaughter charge against youth

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

City of Wetaskiwin back to zero active cases

The City of Wetaskiwin currently has zero active cases once again.

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

13-year-old charged in death of boy, 10 in Maskwacis

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Most Read