Edmonton

Former Alberta election boss surprised contract not renewed

Alberta's former chief electoral officer says he was shocked to learn that his contract wasn't being renewed.

Alberta's former chief electoral officer says he was shocked to learn that his contract wasn't being renewed.

Lorne Gibson said he had to hear the decision of an all-party legislature committee through the media.

He said no one voiced "a single concern" to him after the 2008 provincial election and he thought he had been doing a good job.

Gibson suggested more than 100 reforms to the province's electoral system last year after just 41 per cent of voters cast ballots — the lowest voter turnout in the province's history.

Critics believe Gibson's recommendations embarrassed the Tories, leading to his departure when his contract runs out in early March.

Gibson said he didn't think his ideas for improvement would end up costing him his job.

"When I came to Alberta to assume the role of chief electoral officer, my goal wasn't to make headlines but to make history and to bring the electoral system in Alberta up to the standards that we have in other provinces," Gibson said.

All eight committee members from the governing Tories voted to remove Gibson, while the three opposition members wanted to keep him.

Premier Ed Stelmach denied there was any political payback.

He said the members of the committee voted as individuals, not at the direction of the premier's office.

Gibson, who said his integrity and competence have never been questioned in 28 years of public service, plans to look for work in a similar field.

Before working for Elections Alberta, Gibson was the deputy chief electoral officer of Elections Manitoba. He spent 25 years working for the Manitoba government.

Corrections

  • There are eight Tories on the all-party legislature committee, not five as previously stated.
    Feb 21, 2009 3:00 AM MT

With files from the Canadian Press