Calgary judge denies bid to halt UCP ‘kamikaze’ campaign probe during Alberta election

by - 3 min read

Calgary judge denies bid to halt UCP ‘kamikaze’ campaign probe during Alberta election

by - 3 min read

by

The investigation into a former United Conservative Party leadership candidate’s so-called “kamikaze” campaign will continue through Alberta’s election period, now that a Calgary judge has refused to grant an emergency injunction sought by the man at the centre of the probe.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker delivered her decision Wednesday afternoon, ruling it is in the public interest for the investigation to continue. 

The investigation by the commissioner relates to the financing of Callaway’s  UCP leadership campaign. It’s alleged Callaway ran for the purpose of targeting Kenney’s top rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, with a plan to step down before the vote in October 2017 and throw his support behind Kenney. Both Kenney and Callaway have denied that plot.

Callaway was named on the application along with four of his family members and Robyn Lore, a local businessman with ties to the campaign.

Although Kirker questioned the commissioner making findings and issuing penalties before giving Callaway the chance to respond, she found an injunction was not a proper remedy and that there is no evidence of irreparable harm to the applicants.

She also noted the courts should be slow to interfere in investigations. 

Court sat until nearly 8 p.m. Monday night as Justice Kirker heard six hours of arguments from former UCP leadership candidate Jeff Callaway’s lawyer and counsel for the Office of the Elections Commissioner (OEC).

Lawyer Ivan Bernardo represents all six applicants and argued there is no urgency to the investigation and no need for it to continue while Alberta is in the middle of a provincial election.

Gibson has sent letters to several people who have been interviewed with his “findings of the investigation” and has handed out fines and letters of reprimand to several people connected to Callaway’s campaign.

Bernardo took issue with the commissioner making findings before all key witnesses have been interviewed. 

But Corinne Petersen, the lawyer for the commissioner told the judge that Gibson is overseeing a series of investigations involving not just Callaway but those connected to his campaign.

It’s alleged Callaway ran in 2017 for the purpose of targeting Jason Kenney’s top rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, with a plan to step down before the vote and throw his support behind Kenney, who won the race. 

Although Kenney and Callaway have denied that claim, CBC News obtained emails showing higher-ups in Kenney’s campaign circle providing resources — strategic political direction, media, and debate talking points, speeches, videos and attack advertisements — to the Callaway campaign.

Kenney’s deputy chief of staff, Matt Wolf, even emailed a resignation speech to Callaway the day he dropped out of the leadership race.

Bernardo argued the OEC is looking into an 18-month-old internal party contest and the commissioner should instead focus on the current election.

In her arguments against granting the injunction, Petersen said suspending the investigation because of a complaint from those who are being investigated would amount to “reasonable apprehension of bias in the other direction.”

  • Alberta Votes 2019: CBC News brings you all the news, analyses and columns you need for the election
  • VOTE COMPASS | Find out how your views on campaign issues line up with the platforms of Alberta’s major parties

Read the full originating application here:

  • Find out how Alberta’s political parties are faring in our Poll Tracker
  • Listen toThe Ledge podcast, as CBC’s legislative reporters bring you expert analysis and insiders’ insight
  • Sign up to get our election newsletter The Scrutineerdelivered directly to your inbox twice weekly

This story originally appeared on CBC

Top