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Smith requests Ethics Commissioner investigation into PC election tactics

HIGH RIVER, AB (October 25, 2014): Today, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith responded to a request from Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler for further details to help her investigate several members of the Jim Prentice PC government for their roles in highly partisan government announcements during the by-election campaign.

Smith originally wrote to Trussler last week alerting her to some of the incidents of government ministers abusing their power in the by-elections. Trussler responded immediately, asking Smith for specific examples and committing to “proceed with this matter,” prompting Smith’s letter today.

In the letter to Trussler sent today, Smith laid out seven instances in which either Premier Prentice, Education Minister Gordon Dirks, Health Minister Stephen Mandel or Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar abused their offices to advance the PC party’s political prospects for Monday’s by-elections. Smith says that both Dirks, PC candidate in Calgary-Elbow, and Mandel, PC candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud, have made government commitments in the cities they are seeking election in order to win votes and influence the outcome of Monday’s elections in their favour.

“Campaign announcements and election promises should be made at the sponsoring party’s expense,” Smith wrote. “However, these particular announcements were decidedly political in tone, timing and participants and they were all done using government resources at taxpayers’ expense in order to get certain PC candidates elected.”

Smith highlighted Mr. Dirks’ recent controversies in which, as Education Minister, he initiated sod-turnings for three schools while the Advance Polls were open and scheduled a fourth on Election Day in the Calgary-West riding. None of these schools have construction contracts. He also approved modular classrooms for a school in Calgary-Elbow over and above modular requests of higher priority. Dirks’ campaign manager appeared to confirm the move was made to win votes in Calgary-Elbow.

“Mr. Dirks’ queue jumping on modular schools to win more votes is probably the most egregious example of abuse of power for political gain, but it certainly isn’t the only one,” Smith said. “We have seen repeated examples of PC candidates abusing their government positions to get elected. It’s a pattern of behaviour and it shows that the PCs under Premier Jim Prentice have not changed one bit. They’re just more of the same. 

“We’re pleased to see the Ethics Commissioner is taking this matter seriously. We’re looking forward to her investigation,” Smith said.