EDMONTON, AB (February 1, 2013): Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer should continue his investigation into the Progressive Conservative party’s illegal fundraising practices by prosecuting instances in which the party broke elections law, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.
In a letter sent today to Brian Fjeldheim, Saskiw said Fjeldheim must recommend Alberta Justice lay charges against the governing PCs if he believes there is sufficient enough evidence to do so. Penalties for violating the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosures Act include fines up to $10,000 and jail time. Yesterday, news broke that the PC party informed prohibited corporations that expensing contributions to taxpayers was legal, despite claiming they knew nothing of the practice. It was also revealed on a recorded conference call with PC executives that the party has no intention of repaying all the money Fjeldheim has ordered them to because it needs the funds for the next election. Saskiw said the developments only confirm how widespread this practice is and that the PCs are simply not telling the truth about their involvement in soliciting illegal money. “The Chief Electoral Officer has done a good job investigating the PCs’ illegal fundraising activities, but it’s not enough to simply reveal them. If the Act has been breached, charges must be laid,” Saskiw said. “The only thing a bully understands is retribution. The PCs need to be held accountable under the laws they have broken by accepting public tax dollars as political contributions.” Elections Alberta has in the past recommended charges against the PC party while Alison Redford was Justice Minister. Redford did not pursue them and the PCs turfed the Chief Electoral Officer, Lorne Gibson, who recommended them. Saskiw said the problem goes much deeper than the 45 instances since 2009 Fjeldheim revealed yesterday and in order to send a message to the PCs that their illegal fundraising won’t be tolerated, charges must be laid. “This behaviour is deeply ingrained in the culture of the PC party,” Saskiw said. “In order to break the cycle of corruption and entitlement in the party, they must be punished for breaking the law. Otherwise, it will only continue and get worse.”