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