August 6, 2019 11:22 pm
Updated: August 6, 2019 11:30 pm

Alberta NDP demands answers as new allegations surface in connection with UCP leadership race

Brian Jean Jason Kenney, centre, celebrates his victory as the first official leader of the Alberta United Conservative Party with his opponents Brian Jean, right, and Doug Schweitzer in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
A A

The NDP is calling for the UCP to answer more questions about the party’s 2017 leadership race after it emerged Alberta’s election commissioner is looking into unproven allegations that Premier Jason Kenney had a party supporter buy UCP memberships without being paid back for them.

Story continues below

“Another day, another investigation into allegations of serious misconduct or irregularities into the UCP leadership [race],” the NDP’s democracy and ethics critic, Heather Sweet, said in a news release issued on Tuesday. “Albertans are right to wonder if they can trust this government.

“Why won’t the premier come clean with the people of Alberta about what is going on here?”

In an email obtained by Global News, an investigator with the election commissioner’s office says they’ve been “assigned a file” looking into allegations that Kenney had Tariq Chaudhry “buy UCP memberships and put on events that were not properly paid back or claimed/expensed.”

READ MORE: Special prosecutor to help with probe of UCP leadership vote

Watch below: (From May 30, 2019) Alberta is seeking a special outside prosecutor to assist the RCMP as they look into whether fraud was committed in the UCP leadership race won by Jason Kenney.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. The email from the investigator asks Chaudhry if he can speak about the matter this week.

When asked for comment on the matter, the premier’s press secretary provided Global News with a brief statement.

“This issue has been aired previously,” Christine Myatt said in an email.

“The commissioner’s office has not been in contact with us regarding Mr. Chaudry’s letter.”

Global News reached out to Chaudhry by phone and through email late Tuesday afternoon but, so far, requests for a response have not been returned

The request to speak to Chaudhry has sparked the latest in a series of questions being raised about potential wrongdoing in the UCP leadership race that saw Kenney emerge the winner before eventually being elected as premier.

Less than three weeks ago, Jeff Callaway, who was one of the leadership contestants in the 2017 race, was fined $70,000 by the province’s election commissioner over irregular campaign contributions. It was one in a series of fines and letters of reprimand that have been issued to multiple people in connection with Callaway’s leadership bid.

READ MORE: Jeff Callaway fined $70,000 by Alberta Election Commissioner

Callaway’s leadership bid has been mired in allegations it was a kamikaze campaign aimed at targeting Kenney’s main opponent, Brian Jean. Callaway eventually dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Kenney.

Leaked emails obtained by Global News earlier this year show ongoing contact during the 2017 leadership race between the Kenney and Callaway campaigns. They suggest Kenney staffers provided strategic direction, attack ads, speaking notes, speeches and media support to the Callaway campaign.

“There was staff communicating on communications material and stuff like that,” Kenney told Global News Radio in March, while speaking about his campaign staff’s dealings with members of Callaway’s leadership campaign. “This is not the least bit unusual that campaigns will communicate.”

Kenney has also vehemently denied that he helped to finance Callaway’s campaign in any way.

Ongoing RCMP investigation looking into UCP leadership race

Five UCP cabinet ministers have now spoken to the RCMP as they investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing in connection with the party’s 2017 leadership race.

READ MORE: RCMP speak to more Alberta cabinet ministers as part of investigation into UCP leadership race

The RCMP has told Global News their probe revolves around criminal allegations of identity fraud in connection with the leadership race.

Earlier this year, Hardyal (Happy) Mann, a former UCP nomination candidate, accused the party of using fake email addresses attached to memberships in the October 2017 leadership vote.

He said he noticed a few people on the list didn’t have email addresses on their memberships, but they were later filled in. He said he believes the UCP used fake emails.

“I assume that the emails that have been registered — obviously, the pins would go to emails,” Mann said.

“It’s not my expertise, this is something the RCMP is looking into.”

Former UCP MLA Prab Gill has also sent a letter to the RCMP alleging the UCP used fake emails to give Kenney more votes.

None of the voter fraud allegations have been proven and Kenney has denied involvement in any logistics like voting structure in the UCP leadership race.

“This is all based on unfounded allegations by a couple of guys motivated by sour grapes, one of whom we threw out of the party — the caucus barred from running — because he had been found by a former judge to have engaged in… ballot stuffing: Mr. Gill,” Kenney said in March.

“And by another fellow who we barred from running… The same individual, Mr. Mann, has now apparently admitted to violating the Election Finance Contribution Disclosure Act. So these are the sources you have, that people are drawing on. I, for one, don’t take them seriously.”

–With files from Global News’ Adam MacVicar and Julia Wong and 630 CHED’s David Boles

READ MORE: Calgary UCP candidate issues statement after RCMP raid on his business

Watch below: (From April 12, 2019) A Calgary United Conservative Party candidate issued a statement to declare his innocence on Friday night in response to a police raid on his business.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.