Drama over Bill 22 continues at Alberta legislature; ethics commissioner cannot ‘delay proceedings’

The ethics commissioner has responded to a request from Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, asking for UCP MLAs to be banned from voting on the contentious Bill 22.

Since the bill would terminate the contract of the province’s election watchdog — who is currently investigating the UCP for violations of election fundraising rules in the 2017 leadership vote won by Jason Kenney — Notley argued there was a conflict of interest.

READ MORE: Alberta government firing election commissioner who was investigating leadership

Notley said Wednesday every UCP caucus member would benefit from having Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson’s contract terminated.

The bill passed third reading late Thursday morning.

READ MORE: Alberta election commissioner hands down additional $25K in fines in connection to UCP leadership investigation

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Notley felt four groups of politicians were in conflict of interest when it comes to Bill 22: Peter Singh, Jason Kenney, UCP MLAs who have been interviewed by the RCMP as part of the UCP leadership vote investigation, and all UCP MLAs.

In her response, ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler said her office had also received 10 other requests from members of the public raising concerns with Bill 22, or asking the office to either investigate or stop proceedings pertaining to the bill.

“No specific allegations have been made that any MLA voted on Bill 22 and thereby contravened the above sections of the Conflicts of Interest Act.

“As a result, I do not have sufficient particulars to investigate at this time,” Trussler wrote.

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Scroll down to read the full letter from the ethics commissioner.

Trussler added: “under the circumstances, I feel that an advisory opinion would be useful” but said she didn’t have the power to delay Bill 22 proceedings.

READ MORE: Firing of Alberta election commissioner called ‘political interference,’ Opposition seeks intervention

“Those individuals who are in the process of being investigated by the Elections Commissioner or the RCMP would be in breach of Section 2 (1) of the Conflicts of Interest Act if they were to discuss the portions of Bill 22 pertaining to the Office of the Elections Commissioner of vote on the bill,” she said.

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“For those individuals who have close associates (as opposed to direct associates), eg. people they work closely with, or who work for them, in the process of being investigated, it is likely that they would be improperly furthering another person’s private interests under Section 3 of the Conflicts of Interest Act if they were to discuss any aspects of Bill 22 or vote on the bill.”

“I do not have the power to request the government to delay proceedings with Bill 22,” the ethics commissioner wrote.

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“It is not within my limited jurisdiction to do so. It would be improper for me to intervene with the political process.”

Notley steps up fight against Bill 22, joins nurses’ rally at legislature

Notley steps up fight against Bill 22, joins nurses’ rally at legislature

In her response, the ethics commissioner Cc-ed legislature speaker Nathan Cooper, Kenney, Leela Aheer, Prasad Panda, Josephine Pon, Doug Schweitxzer, Singh, Joseph Schow and Jordan Walker.

READ MORE: Notley, NDP seek ruling to ban UCP from voting on Bill 22

MLAs debated Bill 22 late into Wednesday night and into the following morning, before it passed second reading and the committee of the whole. Debate continued Thursday, with a request to adjourn debate voted down shortly before 11 a.m.

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— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Nov. 21- Alberta Ethics Commissioner by Emily Mertz on Scribd

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