Calgary councillor fined for campaign-style Stampede breakfast

Coun. Dan McLean stands in front of a billboard promoting a campaign-style Stampede breakfast, in a video posted on July 8, 2021. Facebook

A campaign-style Stampede breakfast has a Calgary city councillor in the hot seat.

Elections Alberta found Calgary Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean contravened the Local Authorities Election Act when he hosted the event on July 10, 2021, “which was widely advertised as a ‘campaign-style event’ where businesses donated over 100 prizes,” the election oversight body wrote in documents obtained by Global News.

McLean used those prizes to entice Calgarians to attend his event.

“One of the city’s top auctioneers is going to be there to give away prizes. I went to almost every business in Ward 13 over the last few weeks and was overjoyed at how many prizes and donations they made that we want to give away to you, the public,” McLean said in a video promoting the event.

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That video post on July 8, 2021, listed grocery stores, clothing stores, restaurants, pet stores, personal services and professional services.

In a video recap of the event, McLean thanked First Avenue Financial for their support in the form of a gift basket “worth I think $1000… at least $100-something.”

“That’s where I leased my campaign office from,” he said, addressing the crowd the video post claimed to surpass 1,000 people. “Give these guys a look-up if you could.”

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McLean to step away from committees, sit with Indigenous elders after video surfaces of racist remarks

After investigating, the chief electoral officer Glen Resler found McLean contravened section 147.2(5) of the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

That section relates to accepting contributions from prohibited organizations or from people or groups outside that ordinarily reside outside Alberta.

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McLean faces an administrative penalty of $500, the minimum penalty under the LAEA.

In an interview with Global News, McLean apologized for the mistake.

“I apologize. I wasn’t doing anything wrong on purpose,” McLean said. “I got legal advice on this.

“I was trying to promote the (Calgary) Stampede, I was trying to promote small businesses, and I was trying to promote myself.

“Nothing from that Stampede breakfast went to my own campaign,” he said, noting all donations from businesses were given away as prizes to attendees.

The Ward 13 representative said he fully cooperated with the investigation, a sentiment echoed by the chief electoral officer in his letter to McLean.

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“I find that your conduct was unintentional, you were entirely forthcoming during your interview and your response to the (investigation),” Resler wrote to McLean. “It is my determination that a factor in this violation was your misinterpretation of the relevant section of the LAEA.”

McLean admitted he should have sought advice from Elections Alberta, the chief election officer noted.

“There was ample evidence to suggest that the Stampede breakfast was a campaign event, and this was also acknowledge by your campaign manager Mr. Patrick Poilievre.”

McLean told Global News “there needs to be a lot more clarity around campaign contributions” as outlined by the LAEA.

According to the LAEA, candidates can only receive contributions from individuals, to a maximum value of $5,000. Anonymous contributions are not allowed, neither are contributions not belonging to the person making the donation – so-called straw donors.

Businesses, employee organizations and trade unions are prohibited from donating directly to campaigns.

Many chose to donate to third-party advertisers during Calgary’s municipal election.

In the municipal election of October 2021, McLean defeated incumbent Diane Colley-Urquhart and Jay Unsworth.

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–with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News

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