United Conservative Party won’t release report on alleged voting irregularities, cites privacy concerns

Click to play video: '2 southern Alberta UCP candidates removed' 2 southern Alberta UCP candidates removed
WATCH ABOVE: The fight for nominations in the United Conservative Party generated some controversy over the weekend and led to the removal of two southern Alberta candidates. Tom Vernon reports – Jul 16, 2018

Alberta’s United Conservatives say they will not release an internal report on voting irregularities that led to the resignation of one of their legislature members.

The caucus also announced Tuesday it will reimburse the treasury more than $7,000 after Prab Gill charged taxpayers for what turned out to be a party event in February.

Gill resigned from the United Conservative caucus on the weekend following an investigation into allegations of ballot-box stuffing and other voting irregularities at a constituency meeting in Calgary North East, where Gill had been trying to win the party’s nomination.

READ MORE: Prab Gill quits UCP caucus after party receives report into constituency meeting

Jeff Henwood, speaking for the party, said in a statement Monday that United Conservatives won’t release the report to protect the privacy of those interviewed by former Court of Queen’s Bench judge Ted Carruthers in his investigation.

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“In completing his investigation … Carruthers conducted interviews with non-public figures,” said Henwood. “To protect the privacy of those who provided testimony on this issue, the United Conservative Party will not release the final report.

“With the events of the weekend, we now consider the matter closed.”

READ MORE: Jason Kenney calls allegations against UCP MLA ‘serious,’ doesn’t deny they involve ballot-stuffing

Watch below: On July 13, 2018, Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney responded to the resignation of his caucus’ deputy whip after allegations of ballot-stuffing.

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney responds to resignation of UCP caucus deputy whip' Jason Kenney responds to resignation of UCP caucus deputy whip
Jason Kenney responds to resignation of UCP caucus deputy whip – Jul 13, 2018

The NDP caucus said the full report should be released because it’s in the public interest.

Gill, currently the member for Calgary Greenway, declined comment.

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In a statement issued after his resignation on Saturday, he said he didn’t agree with everything in the report but said he accepted its findings.

He said he will finish out the current legislature term as an Independent and won’t be seeking to run for the United Conservatives in next spring’s election.

Gill won a byelection in March 2016 as a Progressive Conservative. The byelection was called after PC member Manmeet Bhullar was killed in a road accident.

Gill joined the United Conservatives when the PC and Wildrose parties merged in 2017.

Also Monday, the NDP caucus demanded Gill and Kenney reimburse taxpayers for a February banquet in Calgary.

At the dinner, Kenney delivered a speech urging people to run for his party in the next election and later on social media called the event a “wonderful evening with UCP supporters.”

Legislature rules make it clear that public money can’t be used for partisan political activities.

The NDP issued the allegation late Monday morning in an email statement. The United Conservatives responded just over an hour later.

“This is clearly an error. We will work to ensure that the taxpayer is reimbursed for the full amount,” said the response.

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Neither the UCP nor the NDP made anyone available for comment on either issue.

READ MORE: Alberta United Conservatives to reimburse taxpayers $7,200 for Calgary banquet

There have been a few friction points in United Conservative nomination races lately.

On the weekend, the party rejected a candidate from its Brooks-Medicine Hat race for public comments attacking the Muslim faith.

READ MORE: Todd Beasley defends anti-Muslim Facebook posts after removal from Brooks-Medicine Hat UCP nomination

Last month, current member Leela Aheer was nominated in Chestermere-Rocky View after a disputed contest that included allegations of favouritism and abuse of membership lists.

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