UCP nominee Dale Johnson disqualified for firing employee following domestic dispute

The United Conservative Party nominee for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland paid an employee he fired, with whom he was in a romantic relationship.

Document details Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland nominee's domestic dispute with his bookkeeper

Dale Johnson is United Conservative Party candidate in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland. (Dale Johnson/Facebook)

Dale Johnson has been disqualified as the United Conservative Party's nominee for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland in next year's provincial election, after the party discovered he paid $5,584.60 to an employee he fired with whom he was in a romantic relationship.

A January 2015 ruling in response to an employment standards order shows Johnson fired his bookkeeper, Janice Janiten, following a physical altercation between the pair that happened on Nov. 12, 2012.

Employee was fired after physical altercation

The document said Janiten had gone to Johnson's home to confront him because she believed he was cheating on her, and she likely struck him first. The pair were both injured in the altercation, before Johnson "confined" Janiten and attempted to drive her home.

She was then fired from her job as bookkeeper at Johnson's company, Country Automotive Specialists Ltd.

"In this particular case, which is unprecedented in the case law, where the party that is the victim of the assault is also the employer, the situation that caused Ms. Janiten to breach her duty to her employer, existed partially of the employer's creation," wrote Judge K.R. Wilberg in the decision.

"In this particular case Ms. Janiten struck only the one blow and I cannot find on the balance of probabilities that the rest of the physical confrontation is her responsibility. In this particular case, what she did does not support termination."

Wilberg, acting as an umpire, upheld a 2014 order that Johnson's company was to pay $5,594.60 to Janiten, but did not award any costs to Janiten because he said it was reasonable that the company had appealed the decision.

'I was the victim of an assault': Johnson

Johnson said the information published was personal and that he plans to speak to a lawyer before commenting on the UCP's decision to disqualify him, but there's one thing he wants to make clear — he was not charged with a crime and is the one who made the complaint.

He also said he paid the required amount at the time of dismissal, but Employment Standards requested more money, hence the reason for the appeal from his company.

"I was the victim of an assault," Johnson said. 

UCP reviewed Johnson before disqualifying him

The UCP said the party was made aware of the matter after Johnson's nomination.

"Mr. Johnson failed to disclose the legal matter in question as required. The party takes this matter extremely seriously," UCP executive director Janice Harrington said in an emailed statement.

"Mr. Johnson was previously made aware that his candidacy was under review pending an investigation. Mr. Johnson has since been notified that he is no longer a UCP candidate."

Johnson won the nomination on Aug. 22 after a contentious race that saw one candidate retract statements about another candidate, and another candidate disqualified over social media posts involving jokes about sexual assault.

On top of owning Country Automotive Specialists Ltd. in Onoway for 38 years, Johnson was a municipal councillor, deputy mayor, the chair for Alberta's Persons with Developmental Disabilities program and spent more than a decade on the board of the regional health authority, said UCP Leader Jason Kenney in a statement issued congratulating Johnson on his win.

Two NDP MLAs questioned why Johnson was disqualified, yet MLA Jason Nixon has been allowed to remain in caucus.

"I'm not familiar with the details of the case, but it sounds like there are some questions that need to be answered. Is this another situation like the one with UCP MLA Jason Nixon?" asked NDP MLA Oneil Carlier, who represents Whitecourt-Ste. Anne, in an emailed statement.

"If Mr. Kenney saw fit to fire his candidate in this case, surely he can't continue to defend Mr. Nixon," said Danielle Larivee, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, in an emailed release.  "It's not too late for Mr. Kenney to do the right thing and remove Mr. Nixon as well."

Nixon, who represents Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, fired a woman who complained about sexual harassment on a Kelowna worksite in 2005. 

2nd disqualification this week

Johnson is just the latest in a string of UCP candidates to be disqualified.

Drumheller-Stettler nomination candidate Todd Pawsey was disqualified this week one day before the nomination vote after he was accused of making "inappropriate" Facebook posts.

"I was open, honest, blunt, and forthcoming (as is my character) about everything — again my posts rip NDP policy, not the groups their policies are about," Pawsey said in a Facebook post.

And UCP nomination candidate Todd Beasley, who was campaigning in Brooks-Medicine Hat, was disqualified days before the vote in July after it was found he had posted Islamophobic comments on Facebook.


About the Author

Sarah Rieger

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Sarah Rieger worked in digital media developing social strategies for non-profit organizations and writing and editing online news, before she joined CBC Calgary as an online journalist in 2017. You can reach her by email at sarah.rieger@cbc.ca.