Calgary

Allegations of fraud, bribery and inducements surface in UCP nomination contest

The losing candidates in a United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-East have sent a letter to UCP Leader Jason Kenney and deputy leader Leela Aheer, saying they have documented evidence that the winning candidate, Peter Singh, offered gifts or money in exchange for votes.

Losing contenders in Calgary-East say winning candidate Peter Singh should be disqualified

The losing candidates in the UCP nomination race in Calgary-East are calling for the winner to be disqualified. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Allegations of fraud, forgery, improper inducement and bribery are flying after the United Conservative Party nomination in Calgary-East. 

That vote, held on Nov. 3, was won by Peter Singh, but his opponents say the vote was rigged and they want Singh disqualified. 

In a letter sent to UCP Leader Jason Kenney and deputy leader Leela Aheer on Nov. 30, the losing candidates say they have documented evidence that Singh offered gifts or money in exchange for votes.

They also allege Singh used personal information from customers at his auto shop to "fraudulently sign these individuals up with UCP memberships, forging their identity and consent in the process."

NDP supporter signed up

Former city councillor Andre Chabot is one of the candidates who sent the allegations to the UCP. 

"If there's any questionable candidates, whether it's this riding or any other riding in this province, for that matter, then the party needs to take these kinds of things seriously and look into these allegations," he said. 

"And if they're found to be of merit, then they should disqualify those individuals as potential candidates because we certainly don't need candidates running in the next election that are willing to contravene party policy or Elections Alberta rules and regulations."

Chabot said he doesn't have any evidence himself, but did speak with one woman who said she was signed up as a UCP member without her consent. 

"She was upset because they were NDP supporters and she did not want to be contacted anymore, and so I said, 'I'm sorry, I will remove you from my contact list.'"

Letter leaked

The letter was leaked to the media and the allegations first surfaced in a Postmedia story on Thursday. The candidates made clear in the letter, obtained by CBC News, that they didn't want the matter dealt with in public. 

"As loyal members of this party, we have done our best to keep these issues from coming to light, however as more individuals continue to come forward, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is only a matter of time before the media or the NDP use this information against us," reads the letter. 

"Having exhausted every avenue available to resolve this issue internally, members at the grassroots level have clearly stated that they intend on lodging formal complaints with the Alberta Elections Commission. By condoning vote-buying, the Party sets a very concerning precedent that will do nothing but damage our credibility both in the short and long term."

CBC News reached out to Singh at his auto repair shop but has not yet heard back. He denied the allegations in the Postmedia report. 

UCP reaction

The UCP said in an emailed statement that it is investigating the allegations.

"The UCP takes the integrity of its nominations extremely seriously," reads the email from director of communications Matt Solberg.

"While the party received no actionable evidence of improper conduct during the nomination event in Calgary-East, information has since been provided to the party in the weeks following that requires adequate followup."

Kenney, speaking to reporters later in the day, pointed to the fact the UCP has more contested nominations than all the other parties in Alberta combined. 

"Inevitably, when you have democracy breaking out, there's going to be some friction — in this case, allegations — and we take them seriously and there is an investigation underway."

He would not comment on the specifics of the Calgary-East case, but said one possible sanction for a candidate found to have broken the rules is removal as a candidate. 

The next provincial election must be held on or before May 31, 2019.

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca.