Alberta Liberals call for inquiry into election violations

‘It’s clearly something that this government doesn’t take seriously’ says Swann

The Alberta Liberals want a public inquiry into provincial campaign finance violations after Elections Alberta recently revealed that the province’s justice department hasn’t been prosecuting some offenders.

“It’s clearly something that this government doesn’t take seriously” says Liberal leader David Swann. In his recent annual report chief electoral officer Lorne Gibson says he found 16 financial violations in 2006-07 that never ultimately reached prosecution. In three cases involving contributions from prohibited corporations Alberta Justice missed the deadline for prosecution according to the report. It didn’t lay charges in another six cases involving the same infraction and in one case of an excessive contribution charges were laid but then withdrawn by Alberta Justice. “This is a serious threat to democracy” Swann says.

Gibson is powerless to penalize offenders and there’s currently no consequence for politicians or parties that knowingly seek out illegal contributions (with the exception of excessive ones — but even then they don’t have to return the money). “It’s just a licence for people to break the rules with no repercussions” says Liberal MLA Kent Hehr.

Gibson is asking the province to expand his powers so he can at least impose “administrative penalties” on parties and candidates who knowingly take improper contributions.