Calgary

Alberta elections boss called too secretive

Two opposition party leaders say the head of Elections Alberta is being overly secretive.

Chief electoral officer refusing to reveal donations rules document

Two opposition party leaders say the head of Elections Alberta is being overly secretive.  

Alberta's chief electoral officer, Brian Fjeldheim, is refusing to make public a directive issued in 2007 concerning donations to political parties. ((AUPE))
Chief Electoral Officer Brian Fjeldheim is refusing to make public a directive issued in 2007, prohibiting certain publicly-owned companies from donating money to political parties.  

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said Fjeldheim’s stance is unreasonable.

"I think that to restore his credibility, Mr. Fjeldheim needs to put forward that information, needs to be transparent in his actions. And we are going to be pressing him to do that as an officer of the legislature," she said.

Smith said given recent revelations that several municipalities gave money to the Progressive Conservative Party, the rules surrounding such donations should be made clear to all Albertans.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said Fjeldheim has also refused to reveal the document to him.

"To pretend that this is a private communication I think is doing a disservice, not only to the office of the chief electoral officer but also to all Albertans," Mason said.

CBC News tried to obtain the document through Alberta's Freedom of Information law and was refused.

On appeal, the Information and Privacy Commissioner upheld that decision.

The chief electoral officer, who is exempt from Alberta’s freedom of information law, has refused to be interviewed on the matter.

According to Heather Macintosh, a program director of democratic development and human rights at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, there are heightened public sensitivities about how the political system is operating and such secrecy could erode confidence.

"We have very clear principles in a democracy around separation of the state, the government and the party … it's a cornerstone of democracy," said Heather MacIntosh, program director of democratic development and human rights at the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics.

"And so I would prefer to see far more transparency coming out of Elections Alberta on this issue."

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