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Democracy Watch calls on Alberta Ethics Commissioner to rule Minister Doug Schweitzer violated ethics law by appointing Steve Allan as inquiry commissioner

Steve Allan campaigned for Schweitzer, and donated to him directly, and courts and others have ruled that creates a conflict of interest

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent to Alberta Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler calling on her to issue a public ruling on Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer recommending the appointment of Steve Allan to a $290,000 job as commissioner heading up the inquiry into foreign-funding of environmental groups, given Allan assisted Minister Schweitzer in his election campaign.

Subsection 2(1) and 3 of Alberta’s Conflicts of Interest Act prohibits a Minister from influencing or taking part in a decision when knowing that the decision might further the interests of a person directly associated with the Minister or improperly further someone else’s interests.

According to a recent CBC article, Steve Allan participated in the invitation for a nomination race campaign event for Minister Schweitzer in July 2018, which was distributed to invitees by Minister Schweitzer’s assistant at Denton’s law firm, where he was a lawyer at the time. Mr. Allan also sent an April 2019 email to several associates urging them to vote for Minister Schweitzer in the Alberta provincial election, an email that said, in part, “If the UCP wins, there is an excellent chance Doug will be in Cabinet.” Mr. Allan also donated $1,000 to Minister Schweitzer’s UCP leadership campaign.

By assisting Minister Schweitzer’s election efforts in these ways, Mr. Allan created a sense of obligation on the part of Minister Schweitzer to return the favour, which recommending Mr. Allan to a position that pay $290,000 definitely did. In this way, Minister Schweitzer improperly further Mr. Allan’s private interests.

As a result, as pages 3-9 of Democracy Watch’s complaint letter set out, based on a 1993 ruling by B.C.’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner about people assisting with a Minister’s election campaign (especially p. 31, and pp. 34-39), and the unanimous Federal Court of Appeal ruling Democracy Watch won in 2009 (paras. 52-53), and a related federal lobbying rule, and past rulings concerning what are improper actions are by politicians by the federal and Ontario ethics commissioners, Democracy Watch’s position is that Minister Schweitzer violated the Conflict of Interest Act by participating in the appointment of Steve Allan.

Ethics Commissioner Trussler is not required to investigate, but Democracy Watch’s position is that it would be simply negligent for her to fail to do so given the clear evidence that Minister Schweitzer and Mr. Allan are directly associated, and that Mr. Allan provided significant assistance to Minister Schweitzer’s election efforts.

“Given the clear evidence set out in Democracy Watch’s complaint, hopefully Ethics Commissioner Trussler will do the right thing and issue a public ruling very soon finding that Minister Schweitzer violated the provincial ethics law by participating in the decision to appoint Steve Allan as inquiry commissioner,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign