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Democracy Watch’s second letter questions why Alberta Ethics Commissioner asking for more facts before ruling on Minister Schweitzer appointing Steve Allan as inquiry commissioner?

Group’s Dec. 11th letter contained several facts about how Steve Allan campaigned for Schweitzer, and donated to him directly

Courts and other ethics watchdogs in Canada have ruled in the past that election campaign assistance creates a clear conflict of interest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, January 20, 2020

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the second letter it sent on Friday 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.

Democracy Watch sent the second letter after receiving a letter from Commissioner Trussler saying that its December 11th letter didn’t provide “sufficient particulars” and that “If you wish me to consider your request you will need to provide the facts on which you are basing your allegations.”

Democracy Watch’s second letter questions what more facts Commissioner Trussler thinks are needed, given its first, 9-page letter linked to Minister Schweitzer’s recommendation that Steve Allan be appointed in the Kenney Cabinet’s order that appointed Allan, and also linked to, and summarized, a CBC article that set out how:

  1. 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;
  2. 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” and;
  3. Allan also donated $1,000 to Minister Schweitzer’s UCP leadership campaign.

In its second letter, Democracy Watch not only links to the appointment order and CBC article, it also attached a copy of both the order and article, in case Commissioner Trussler concern is that the webpage links were not evidence.

“Given the clear evidence set out in both of Democracy Watch’s complaint letters, 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.

Subsection 2(1) and 3 of Alberta’s Conflicts of Interest Act prohibit 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 anyone’s interests, and the Preamble to the Act says all provincial politicians are expected to act with integrity and impartiality” and perform their duties of office and arrange their private affairs in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of each Member…”

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, and the federal lobbying commissioner 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.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign