MLA Peter Singh under investigation for alleged bribery, fraud in UCP nomination contest
Alberta election commissioner looks into accusations regarding Calgary-East race
Allegations of "fraud, forgery, improper inducement and bribery" continue to dog MLA Peter Singh, with Alberta's election commissioner launching an investigation into his conduct during the UCP nomination campaign in Calgary-East.
Four candidates who ran against Singh — Andre Chabot, Jamie Lall, Matthew Dirk and Issa Moussa — brought the complaints to the party leadership after losing to him last November.
Singh, accused of offering discounts and inducements through his Calgary auto repair shop, bribes for votes, and forging documents in order to register people for the UCP, has always maintained that he did nothing wrong. An internal UCP investigation cleared him of wrongdoing.
Now, investigator Dave Jennings has reached out to some of the former candidates as part of an official investigation by the election commissioner's office.
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"I have been assigned a file relating to allegations that a Nomination Contestant (NC), for the 2018 Calgary-East contest potentially gave out gifts and inducements to voters (and possibly didn't claim these expenses)," Jennings wrote in a letter obtained by CBC News.
Andre Chabot confirmed he received a phone call in regard to the investigation, but said he had not received a letter.
"My understanding is the primary area of concern right now is in relation to gifts that were provided to entice people to not only get out and vote, but to vote for Peter, which I have absolutely no evidence, or have not heard anything personally in relation to that," Chabot told CBC news.
Chabot added that most of his concerns at the time were around voters being signed up illegally.
"I personally do not have any documented evidence other than third party allegations by people that I spoke to, saying that they didn't even know they had a membership."
Chabot said he had no personal evidence of any bribery.
"I don't know what kind of proof they had. I know they showed me some pictures of some of the things that were gifted and they weren't of any huge monetary value. But I don't think the amount is necessarily what's in question, but rather that a gift was provided as an incentive to go and vote for Peter, which in itself, I guess, suggests bribery."
RCMP searched business
RCMP searched Singh's auto body shop, for reasons that are still unclear, shortly before the election in April.
Sarah Hoffman, deputy leader of the Official Opposition, called on Premier Jason Kenney to remove Singh from caucus during the investigation.
"I am deeply concerned," Hoffman told the CBC. "Here we see further entangling of serious concerns within the UCP, allegations of fraud, forgery and bribery being investigated by the elections commissioner. I think this is a serious concern. And I think that it's important that Mr. Kenney show some leadership as the premier and remove this member from caucus while this investigation is ongoing."
Hoffman said she's not suggesting that Singh be removed completely, but that he should not have a seat at the table.
"I think he was elected to represent his constituents and has a responsibility to do that as an individual who was elected," she said.
"I think sitting around the caucus table, sitting around the decision-making, sitting possibly shoulder-to-shoulder with the premier of this province while you're being investigated for fraud, I think, is sending the wrong message to Albertans. I think it's totally reasonable for him to be a private member in the house, and if he is found clear of wrongdoing to be welcomed back in."
Chabot also said the UCP did not investigate thoroughly before clearing Singh in their internal investigation. He'd like to see the party address "this systemic issue that's been going on in the northeast for decades, and recognizing that this is in fact something that's been occurring on a regular basis and should not be tolerated."
Singh could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. He has always called the accusations false and rooted in dissatisfaction from those who lost in the nomination race.
With files from Colleen Underwood, Michelle Bellefontaine