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Chief Electoral Officer contradicts government, indicates he is still gagged by PC law

EDMONTON, AB (May 31, 2012): Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith today tabled a letter from the Chief Electoral Officer contradicting the confusing claims of the Redford Government regarding a gag law that stops the Chief Electoral Officer from releasing his rulings on illegal campaign donations.

  “All of our heads are spinning, this government has done so many 360s on this gag law,” Smith said today.  “What is clear is that the lawyers say the government still has a gag law on the Chief Electoral Officer, and that needs to change.”  Smith called in the Legislature for the government to repeal the gag law and secured a commitment from Justice Minister Jonathan Denis that that would happen.  She said it should be retroactive so that the Chief Electoral Officer can release the information on the 28 investigations that revealed violations as well as any future violations.

  • On Monday, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis told the House the Chief Electoral Officer had requested a gag law be put in place in 2010, keeping the results of his investigations secret.
  • On Tuesday, the Chief Electoral Office itself said that was not the case. He had never requested the results be kept secret. Lorne Gibson, the CEO at the time, requested only that the government “add specific direction that an investigation… be conducted in private.”
  • On Wednesday, Premier Redford said “I am not in a position to tell the Chief Electoral Officer what to do.” Lukaszuk added that the Chief Electoral Officer was free to publicize whatever information he liked following investigations into illegal donations.
  • Today Elections Alberta spokesman Drew Westwater, in a letter tabled by Wildrose, said his legal counsel informed him that the government’s latest view – that the CEO is not constrained by a gag law – is, in fact, not the case: “Our legal interpretation indicates that the confidentiality provisions extend to both the process and the outcome of investigations. It is the responsibility of this Office to implement existing legislation, and we will continue to do that.”

Denis’s commitment to review the legislation just isn’t enough, Smith said.