Calgary judge denies injunction in investigation of UCP leadership race

RCMP are investigating how leadership candidate Jeff Callaway’s campaign in 2017 was funded

Jason Kenney speaks to the media at his first convention as leader of the United Conservative Party in Red Deer, Alta., Sunday, May 6, 2018. A Calgary judge has denied an injunction that would have postponed an investigation into the United Conservative Party’s leadership race until after Alberta’s April 16 provincial election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A Calgary judge denied an injunction Wednesday that would have postponed an investigation into the United Conservative Party’s leadership race until after Alberta’s April 16 provincial election.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker says although it is important for the election commissioner to avoid bias or the appearance of bias, it’s in the public interest for the investigation to continue.

READ MORE: Campaigner fined $15,000 in UCP leadership race

“The commissioner faces statutorily mandated time limits to complete his investigation. Granting an interlocutory injunction risks those time limits running out before the issues in dispute are finally resolved,” Kirker said.

“Even if there were evidence of irreparable harm to the applicants, it would be, in my view, outweighed by the interests of the public in having investigation of the complaint involving the applicants completed.”

Alberta’s elections commissioner and the RCMP are investigating how leadership candidate Jeff Callaway’s campaign in 2017 was funded. The commissioner has already issued some fines for illegal donations to Callaway’s campaign.

A lawyer for several people involved in the Callaway campaign had argued that the investigation was inappropriate in the runup to the provincial vote and could be perceived as biased.

Kirker said the applicants had a point on that matter.

“The commissioner does make determinations as he proceeds through his investigations, which he is entitled to do. But the functions are so intertwined that it is difficult to distinguish between the commissioner’s investigation and decision making roles,” the judge said.

“There is a higher duty upon the commissioner to avoid both actual bias and the appearance of bias. I am satisfied that the applicants have established that there is a serious issue to be tried.”

The probe has been going on since January.

Callaway was one of several candidates vying for leadership of the UCP, which was born out of a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party.

Callaway dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Jason Kenney, who went on to lead the new party.

Documents leaked last month suggest Kenney’s campaign team directed Callaway to attack and criticize Kenney’s main rival, Brian Jean of the Wildrose.

The NDP candidate for Calgary-Varsity said outside court Wednesday that using the court’s time to try and stop the investigation is “scandalous.” But she was pleased with the outcome.

“I think Albertans deserve to know what happened in that leadership race. Was it fair and square? Were the rules followed or was there a candidate put there specifically to support Mr. Kenney and to defeat Brian Jean?” asked Anne McGrath.

“I think that is something that Albertans care about. They want to know that their politics are clean.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Green Party candidate Sarah Palmer

Sarah Palmer is one of five candidates running for MP in the Red Deer-Lacombe riding

Sylvan Lake man charged in wife’s death appears in court

Satnam Singh Sandhu made his second appearance in Red Deer Provincial Court Friday morning

Advance voting in 2019 federal election begins

Voting at advance polling stations has become a popular choice in Canada over the years

Lacombe Chamber hosts election forum at LMC

LPC, CPC, PPC and NDP battle for Red Deer-Lacombe votes

NDP candidate for Red Deer-Lacombe committed to creating new green jobs

Lauren Pezzella says the country needs to diversify away from fossil fuels

No holiday for campaigning leaders on Thanksgiving weekend, but pace slows

There is a little over a week to go before election day, and advanced polls are now open

PHOTOS: Kipchoge becomes first runner to dip under 2 hours for marathon

Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya clocks 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds

Mourners gather for slain teenager’s funeral in Hamilton, Ont.

Devan Bracci-Selvey’s obituary says he also had ‘a loving heart for animals’

1/3 of Canadian men won’t share their feelings for fear of being ‘unmanly’: report

Fifty-nine per cent of men said society expects them to be ‘emotionally strong and not show weakness’

Dog owners have reduced risk of dying from heart problems, says researcher

Researchers analyzed data on more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 studies

Winterhawks ice Rebels 5-0

Rebels take on Medicine Hat on the road Saturday night

Yukon declares climate emergency

Territory joins nearly 500 federal, provincial and municipal governments to do so in the last year

Final debate behind them, federal leaders begin sprints to Oct. 21 voting day

The final stretch in the federal election campaign has begun

Unemployment rate down after country adds 54,000 jobs in September, StatCan says

Report says 70,000 of the new jobs were full-time, as the number of part-time workers declined

Most Read