Kenney, UCP cleared in ethics probe tied to firing of election commissioner

Alberta’s ethics commissioner has rejected Opposition accusations that Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative caucus broke the rules when they fired the election official investigating their party.

Marguerite Trussler, in a new report, says there is no evidence the United Conservatives directly benefited under the terms of provincial ethics rules when the UCP caucus passed a bill late last year to fire election commissioner Lorne Gibson.

The NDP alleged that firing Gibson directly benefited the UCP’s long-term reputation and re-election prospects, given that Gibson was investigating the party at the time and had already levied more than $200,000 in fines tied to the party’s 2017 leadership race.

Lorne Gibson’s role as Alberta’s election commissioner was ended by a bill that’s now law. The ethics commissioner found that all but one member followed the rules when the legislation was passed. (Terry Reith/CBC)

But Trussler said, among other reasons, that accusation falls short of proving direct benefit and if taken to its logical conclusion every decision made by a politician could be seen as a potential conflict of interest.

Trussler did note than one UCP member, Calgary backbencher Peter Singh, should have formally recused himself from debate given Gibson was questioning Singh at the time over campaign expenses.

Singh did not vote on the bill, but Trussler says he should make up for his error now by formally apologizing to the legislative assembly.

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