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Old Posted Nov 19, 2019, 1:16 AM
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DizzyEdge DizzyEdge is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Calgary
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UCP moves to eliminate Alberta elections commissioner, merge offices
JANET FRENCH Updated: November 18, 2019

The United Conservative Party government has introduced legislation to eliminate the standalone elections commissioner’s office — an independent officer of the legislature that has levied tens of thousands of dollars in penalties against UCP leadership campaign donors.

If passed and granted royal assent, Bill 22, the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, would see current election commissioner Lorne Gibson fired and his staff transferred to the office of Alberta’s chief electoral officer.

That officer would be responsible for hiring a new elections commissioner to watch over campaign donation rules. There would be no obligation for the chief electoral officer or new commissioner to continue any investigations Gibson already has underway.

Grilled by reporters about the optics of the move in an embargoed news conference Monday, Finance Minister Travis Toews insisted that firing Gibson and combining the offices is purely for administrative efficiencies. The maneuver should save $1 million in the next five years, Toews said.

“(It’s) really again consistent with our greater effort to streamline government, to remove redundancies, to save Alberta taxpayers hard-earned tax dollars and to ensure that we have the most efficient, defensible structure,” Toews said. “We are doing nothing here that will undermine any current investigations that are taking place.”

Toews said he can’t compel the chief electoral officer to continue any current, ongoing investigations because the office is independent.

Gibson’s contract was to expire in 2023.

His office has levied more than $211,000 in fines against people and organizations involved with the campaign for Jeff Callaway, who ran for leadership of the UCP in 2017.

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