Ban boosts Mandel’s popularity
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel says the controversy surrounding a five-year ban barring him from running in elections has only enhanced his popularity and energized party members.“People are really paying attention to the Alberta Party,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “It has energized our people ... I’ve talked to all our candidates and they’re really pumped up.“I can’t tell you the number of people who have come up to me and said, ‘Keep fighting this, this is ridiculous.’ ”He said people are “amazed and shocked” that his late filing of a zero-dollar return spurred Elections Alberta to hand him what he has described as a draconian penalty.His case is set to go to the Court of Queen’s Bench on Feb. 22.Elections Alberta listed Mandel as ineligible to run for five years after he missed the deadline to file his campaign expense paperwork.He said the rules were confusing and disagrees with the timeline laid out by Elections Alberta. He plans to argue in court that he did in fact file his paperwork within the four-month window outlined in legislation.The fate of five other Alberta Party candidates who were also slapped with five-year bans remains unclear. They are Ali Haymour, Diana Ly, Amrit Matharu, Moe Rahall and Rachel Timmermans.Mandel said Wednesday they are filing applications individually in court.“Each one of them is very frustrated,” he said. “Each one is a bit different.”He added the party has offered to help pay the legal bills for any of the candidates who can’t afford the court challenge.“We’re not going to lose the court case,” he said. “Why would we have a contingency plan?”Democratic Renewal Minister Christina Gray said the rules laid out under legislation are fair and straightforward.“I understand that Elections Alberta communicated very clearly to all candidates and campaigns about the changes and about their deadlines,” she said Monday.Mandel said he only found out about the problem on Jan. 30, despite receiving a letter from Elections Alberta last July that spelled out a firm Sept. 12 deadline. There was also an additional 10-day grace period.The former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister filed his campaign expenses for the Edmonton-McClung nomination contest on Sept. 27.Chief financial officer Brian Heidecker, who has since retired, was tasked with tracking the expenses, which were limited to $10,000 under election rules.Mandel said Heidecker missed the submission date because he was unwell. Failing to file on time automatically results in a $500 fee. But more serious penalties include a five-year ban for filing late and an eight-year ban if no paperwork is filed at all.Premier Rachel Notley has yet to call a provincial election, but could have dropped the writ as early as Feb. 1 launching a 28-day campaign period. She is expected to call an election for between March 1 and May 31.
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel says many people are encouraging him to fight the ban in court.
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