Judge reserves decision on Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel’s candidacy ban

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Judge reserves decision on Alberta Party leader’s candidacy ban
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel will have to wait until next week to find out if he can run in the upcoming provincial election. He was looking to overturn a decision that disqualified him from running for public office for five years. Tom Vernon reports – Feb 22, 2019

A judge has reserved her decision on whether to overturn a ban that would see Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel unable to run in this spring’s provincial election.

Mandel appeared in court on Friday afternoon in hopes of having his five-year ban lifted. Earlier this month, Elections Alberta ruled Mandel ineligible to run for five years after he was late to file financial statements from his nomination contest last year.

The judge in the case, Gaylene Kendell, said Friday she will make his decision before the end of next week.

“It’s fine. The judge reserved and we’ll get a decision next week,” Mandel said following the proceedings.

“We believe we have a very strong case and the decision will go our way. But you can’t say any more than that because it’s in the hands of the court.”

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READ MORE: Elections Alberta gives Alberta Party leader 5-year-ban from running as candidate, Mandel plans appeal

Elections Alberta deputy chief electoral officer Drew Westwater said candidates have four months from the time they’re nominated to file financial campaign returns.

Mandel, who secured the Alberta Party’s nomination to be the candidate in Edmonton-McClung on May 12, 2018, missed that deadline.

The Alberta Party leader said his chief financial officer missed the deadline because of an illness.

READ MORE: Opponents react to Alberta Party leader’s appeal for ‘minor administrative offence

Mandel also claimed the documents from Elections Alberta do not clearly spell out the deadline dates, although Elections Alberta said it attempts to make them as clear as possible.

Inside court, Mandel’s lawyer told the judge that if his client remained disqualified, it would be “catastrophic” for the party.

“The Alberta Party will lose their leader for the upcoming election and be forced to replace Mr. Mandel at the very last minute,” Debra Curcio Lister said.

Curcio Lister did not contest the fact the report was filed late, and instead focused on the chief financial officer’s illness and the campaign confusion as mitigating circumstances.

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Six other party candidates have also been given bans for late filing. One of those candidates, Moe Rahall, had his ban overturned Friday.

Currently, Mandel is not eligible to run as a candidate until Sept. 27, 2023.

With files from The Canadian Press.

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