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Prab Gill threatened with defamation suit over allegations of wrongdoing in UCP leadership race

Alberta MLA threatened with lawsuit over UCP leadership vote allegations
WATCH ABOVE: The fight between Independent MLA Prab Gill and the United Conservative Party may wind up in court. As Tom Vernon reports, the UCP is threatening to sue.

A former UCP MLA, who now sits in the Alberta legislature as an independent, says he’s being threatened with legal action by Jason Kenney for blowing the whistle with allegations of wrongdoing in the party’s leadership race.

“Mr. Kenney and the UCP have sent me a cease and desist letter regarding the allegation I made to RCMP K Division,” Prab Gill told Global News on Tuesday night.

“[They sent it] to threaten and bully me and now this is their attempt to use the court system to shut down a whistleblower.”

The Calgary-Greenway MLA sent a letter to the RCMP last month in which he alleged thousands of illegitimate votes may have been cast for Kenney in the 2017 vote through a scheme that involved “fraudulent email addresses added onto the membership application.”

READ MORE: Former UCP MLA goes to RCMP with mass voter fraud allegations in Kenney leadership race

Watch below: (From Feb. 14, 2019) Independent MLA Prab Gill is accusing Jason Kenney’s campaign of creating thousands of fraudulent emails to help him win the UCP leadership in 2017. Adam MacVicar reports.

Former UCP MLA goes to RCMP with mass voter fraud allegations in Kenney leadership race
Former UCP MLA goes to RCMP with mass voter fraud allegations in Kenney leadership race

The RCMP has confirmed to Global News that it received the letter and has since reached out the the Alberta election commissioner.

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“At the time, I thought all this was only cheating and dirty politics,” Gill wrote in his letter to RCMP. “I did not know of any election law that was broken, but since then, I have learned that this may be a violation of the identity fraud section of the Criminal Code.”

“His allegations are baseless,” Kenney told reporters on Wednesday. “They’re coming from somebody who’s, I guess, angry with the consequences of his own actions, and so if he wants to continue with that, he will be held accountable.

“Mr. Gill was removed from our caucus and barred from running for the UCP because he was found by a former judge to have engaged in ballot-stuffing and vote fraud. And that says all you need to know about his credibility.”

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READ MORE: Former United Conservative MLA denies stuffing ballot box

Gill suggested to Global News that he believes Albertans will be concerned by Kenney’s cease and desist letter.

“They can figure this out,” he said. “If elected officials are treated like this, I can’t even imagine their behaviour towards everyday Albertans.”

Listen below: Prab Gill speaks to 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen.

Kenney said in his 20-plus years in office, he has never threatened anyone with a defamation lawsuit.

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“I’ve got a pretty thick skin,” he said. “I just think this has crossed every red line.

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“[Gill] has made what we consider to be defamatory allegations against our entire party and we’re just not going to allow that to happen with impunity. He’s free to say what he wants to of course but he will also be held accountable if he defames the Official Opposition with these ridiculous conspiracy theories.”

On Tuesday, a Twitter account connected to Kenney tweeted an edited video showing Gill and Jeremy Nolais, who works in the premier’s office, leaving a room in the Federal Building. The video implied that Gill may be joining the NDP and drew widespread criticism for conducting surveillance on politicians, using dramatic effects in the video-editing process and making unfounded allegations about the purpose of the meeting.

Gill told Global News he met with Nolais about questions to do with funding for a school. However, on Wednesday, Kenney said he believes Gill’s “campaign of defamation” is being co-ordinated with the help of the premier’s office, “based on that meeting this week.”

“Trump-style politics is being deployed in Alberta,” Gill said of the video, adding that he feels so intimidated by Kenney and the UCP that he now fears for his safety. “This is a new low in Alberta politics.”

READ MORE: Prab Gill calls UCP video of NDP staffer and him an ‘attempt to intimidate’

Watch below: (from March 5, 2019) A UCP video showing government adviser Jeremy Nolais and Independent MLA Prab Gill leaving a room in the Federal Building has people talking. Albert Delitala spoke to a public relations expert on the strange nature of the video and what it says about the changing nature of politics.

Prab Gill calls odd UCP video of him and NDP staffer an ‘attempt to intimidate’
Prab Gill calls odd UCP video of him and NDP staffer an ‘attempt to intimidate’

The 2017 UCP leadership campaign has come under close scrutiny recently. Just last week, the province’s election commissioner levied three fines in connection with the race.

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Alberta’s election commissioner levied two fines against a campaign manager for Jeff Callaway’s UCP leadership bid, after finding he obstructed an investigation. The commissioner later issued another fine to someone who donated to Callaway’s campaign, finding they contributed money to a registered UCP leadership contestant “with funds given or furnished by another person.” The fine was issued in accordance with Section 34(1) of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.

A lawyer for Callaway’s campaign manager, Dale Fedorchuk, told Global News his client denies the allegations.

“Mr. [Cameron] Davies specifically denies the allegations brought against him and will vigorously defend this matter going forward,” Fedorchuk said. “We haven’t had an opportunity to review anything that they have to counteract anything they have or rebut anything they have.”

READ MORE: Alberta election commissioner issues 3rd fine this week in connection with UCP leadership race

In 2017, a political analyst with Calgary’s Mount Royal University told Global News there had been speculation that Callaway’s leadership bid was as a “stalking horse” for Kenney.

“Originally, Derek Fildebrandt was supposed to be the attack dog for Kenney vs. Brian Jean,” Duane Bratt said at the time.

But then Fildebrandt was forced to step down from the UCP caucus amid controversy over his conduct.

“Jeff Callaway, who had been critical of Jean’s leadership in the past, seemed to be recruited [at the last moment] to take Fildebrandt’s place,” Bratt said. “At both the Calgary and Edmonton debate, Callaway launched attacks against Brian Jean. He has done his job. And now to ensure that he doesn’t get any votes, Callaway is dropping out of the race.

“It all looks very suspicious.”

Kenney has vehemently denied Callaway was running a kamikaze campaign to benefit his leadership bid.

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You can view the cease and desist letter in its entirety below.

–With files from Global News’ Adam MacVicar