UCP in­ves­ti­gat­ing fraud al­le­ga­tions

Fort McMurray Today - - ALBERTA NEWS - BILL KAUF­MANN Bkauf­[email protected]­media.com

Al­le­ga­tions of fraud and bribery against one of its Cal­gary can­di­date’s nom­i­na­tion cam­paign are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the UCP, party leader Ja­son Ken­ney said Thurs­day.

But Al­berta’s gov­ern­ing NDP say that’s not good enough.

The al­leged un­con­sented use by Cal­gary-east UCP can­di­date Peter Singh’s cam­paign of at least one Cal­gar­ian’s credit card to pur­chase a UCP mem­ber­ship to so­licit sup­port mer­its po­lice in­volve­ment, Health Min­is­ter Sarah Hoff­man said Thurs­day.

“If (Ken­ney) thinks it can be man­aged away by a party process, I think he’s des­per­ately out of touch with other Al­ber­tans who would be very con­cerned if their credit card was used for some­thing they didn’t con­sent to,” said Hoff­man.

The com­ments come a day after Post­media re­ported that a de­tailed let­ter of com­plaint signed by four of the los­ing can­di­dates in the Cal­gar­yeast nom­i­na­tion race had been sent to the party ex­press­ing con­cerns over how Peter Singh won the Nov. 3 vote on the first bal­lot.

It com­piled lists of dozens of rid­ing con­stituents who claim they were of­fered money and gifts in ex­change for their vote or said they’d been fraud­u­lently signed up for party mem­ber­ships by Singh’s cam­paign.

Two peo­ple pro­vided sworn af­fi­davits that they’d been of­fered bribes while oth­ers said Singh had used the cus­tomer list from his auto re­pair busi­ness to so­licit sup­port.

A woman told Post­media she’d been so­licited last July by Singh at the auto re­pair shop he owns and later dis­cov­ered her credit card had been used to pur­chase a $10 mem­ber­ship for her, prompt­ing her to com­plain to the party shortly after.

On Thurs­day, Ken­ney said the party’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor had re­ceived the let­ter and that an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been launched.

He also called the al­le­ga­tions a re­sult of the suc­cess of the party’s nom­i­na­tion process that’s at­tracted many can­di­dates and vot­ers ahead of the provin­cial elec­tion ex­pected next spring.

“When you have democ­racy break out there will be fric­tion… 95 per cent of the nom­i­na­tions we’ve had have been with­out prob­lems or al­le­ga­tions,” said Ken­ney.

“Other par­ties don’t have that prob­lem be­cause they don’t have con­tested nom­i­na­tions.”

But he said the party takes the mat­ter se­ri­ously, adding there could be ac­tion taken against Singh if the ac­cu­sa­tions prove true.

“One sanc­tion is to re­move the can­di­date,” added Ken­ney, who said noth­ing about po­lice in­volve­ment.

Hoff­man said Ken­ney’s la­belling the al­le­ga­tions a prod­uct of hard-fought nom­i­na­tion bat­tles is trou­bling.

“If he thinks it’s in­evitable, it’s re­ally poor judge­ment for some­one who wants to be premier of Al­berta,” she said.

Singh has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, call­ing them a case of sore-los­ing by the failed can­di­dates who signed the 11-page let­ter — Jamie Lall, Issa Moussa, Matthew Dirk and former Cal­gary city coun­cil­lor An­dre Chabot.

“It’s a sit­u­a­tion of sour grapes,” Singh said Wed­nes­day.

The let­ter’s sig­na­to­ries said they’d in­formed the party of their con­cerns over Singh’s con­duct months ago but no ac­tion seemed forth­com­ing.

“There is a large group of grass­roots mem­bers spread across all five our cam­paigns who have raised con­cerns be­fore, dur­ing and after the nom­i­na­tion vote took place,” states the let­ter, also re­fer­ring to can­di­date Man­jit Jaswal who didn’t sign the doc­u­ment.

Singh ran un­suc­cess­fully for the P.C. nom­i­na­tion in Cal­gary-fort be­fore the 2015 provin­cial elec­tion.

Ex-can­di­date Dirk said if they prove to be true, the ac­cu­sa­tions are “very trou­bling” but added he has faith in the party’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I know the UCP will work dili­gently to re­solve this… I look for­ward to the re­sult and am ready to move for­ward once these al­le­ga­tions are cleared up,” he said in a state­ment.

Last July, UCP Cal­gar­y­green­way MLA Prab Gill left the party cau­cus after an in­ter­nal probe into bal­lot-stuff­ing com­plaints at a con­stituency meet­ing last sum­mer.

LARRY WONG/POST­MEDIA

Ja­son Ken­ney, leader of the United Con­ser­va­tive Party, speaks dur­ing a me­dia con­fer­ence on Thurs­day De­cem­ber 6, 2018.

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