May 24, 2019 5:18 pm

Alberta NDP files ethics complaint against Premier Jason Kenney over fundraising

The NDP alleges Kenney used the Premier's office to solicit donations to cover $340,000 in UCP campaign debt.

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Alberta’s NDP has filed an ethics complaint against Premier Jason Kenney, alleging he improperly used the office of the premier to solicit donations.

The complaint was filed on the first day of the legislative session and calls on Alberta Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler to conduct an investigation.

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“This violation arises from a fundraising letter sent from the United Conservative Party soliciting contributions to cover the United Conservative Party’s outstanding campaign debt of $340,000,” NDP democracy and ethics critic, Heather Sweet, wrote in the letter.

The complaint arises from two letters sent to United Conservative Party members following the election that reference either Kenney or the premier’s office.

READ MORE: Alberta UCP changing legislature rules to allow MLAs to abstain from voting, ban desk-thumping

The first letter is from Kenney, dated May 2, that commends the party on winning a majority government the April provincial election.

The letter lists multiple platform pieces announced by the UCP throughout the election, followed by a request for support from party members.

The letter states the party has nearly paid off their $2 million campaign, but more donations were needed to cover the costs to prepare for the campaign, including pre-election advertising.

“I am told we now need to raise $340,000 to pay all of our bills,” Kenney wrote. “I hope that you can help us with a contribution today to cover those costs.”

The letter is signed ‘Premier Jason Kenney.’

The signature of the letter is the focus of the NDP complaint, and Sweet believes it is potentially a breach of the Conflict of Interest Act.

“It clear from this that Premier Kenney and the United Conservatives are using Jason Kenney’s position as Premier of the Province of Alberta to generate funds to pay down over a quarter million in debt they gained during the recent campaign, which, in our mind, breaches the ethical obligations that the United Conservatives, as well as every other party owes the people of Alberta,” Sweet wrote in her letter to the ethics commissioner.

“Whether the opposition likes it or not, Jason Kenney was sworn in as Alberta’s 18th Premier on April 30,th 2019, and it is appropriate to refer to him as the Premier,” the premier’s press secretary Christine Myatt said in an emailed statement. “We are confident that neither of these letters raise any ethical concerns.”

READ MORE: Kenney, Notley swap misconduct allegations in Alberta legislature

The second letter included in the complaint was sent by UCP government house leader and environment minister Jason Nixon.

In an email sent by Nixon to party members on May 13, he references two announcements “our Premier” made in Grande Prairie.

The commitments announced by Kenney were the government’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate and repeal the provincial carbon tax.

The email then asks party members for a small donation to help get their message out.

“It feels good to finally call Jason Kenney our Premier,” Nixon said in the email.

He signed the letter as the MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, not his official cabinet position.

“It is my belief that this ongoing matter requires your attention and investigation in order to assure Albertans that their government and Premier are operating in an ethical way when it comes to fundraising,” Sweet wrote in her letter.

The ethics commissioner does not confirm nor deny complaints.

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