MLA Prab Gill improperly removed ballots at Calgary UCP meeting, investigator finds

A report by a retired judge has found that "on a balance of probabilities," Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill took ballots off the registration table at a United Conservative Party constituency association meeting on June 30.

Gill claims probe by retired judge was 'flawed' and 'a sham'

Independent MLA Prab Gill initially called the report into ballot-stuffing allegations fair and independent. Now he is calling it "flawed" and "a sham." (CBC)

A newly released report by a retired judge found that "on a balance of probabilities," Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill took ballots off the registration table at a United Conservative Party constituency association meeting on June 30.

The report, which was obtained by the media this week, prompted Gill to resign from the UCP caucus in July and sit as an independent.

After conducting an investigation, Ted Carruthers, who is also a former president of the Progressive Conservative Party, found that he was unable to accept Gill's account of what happened that day.

"I find that on a balance of probabilities that he did take the ballots off the registration table," Carruthers wrote in his report.

"I do not know how they were distributed or who marked them. However the start of the problem was the removal by Mr. Gill of the ballots from the table as described by (the witness)."

At the time of his resignation from the UCP caucus, Gill accepted the report's findings and called the investigation a "fair, independent process."

But on Tuesday, during a searing rebuke of his former party in the legislature, Gill called the investigation "flawed" and "a sham."  He said Carruthers accepted the account of his accuser and didn't interview other relevant witnesses.

In his report, Carruthers conveyed evidence from a man and woman who were volunteering at the meeting to elect an executive for the new constituency of Calgary-North East.

According to the report, Gill approached the tables where the volunteers were handing out ballots and checking identification.

The woman "saw him casually pick up a stack of the presidential ballots and board ballots and walk away. She was shocked and sat feeling a bit stunned," the report said.

The other volunteer saw her looking "perplexed and nervous." He also noticed the pile of ballots for constituency president was much smaller.

"She told him what she had seen and he said that you have to go and retrieve those ballots. She went to Mr. Gill and asked for the return of the ballots," the report said.

"He took some board ballots out of a manila envelope which he was carrying and gave her some board ballots but no presidential ballots."

When the vote was carried out, 124 ballots were cast for president. Only 74 ballots had been issued by volunteers. Fourteen ballots were not initialled by the registrars.

Situation 'very, very sad'

Carruthers said the female volunteer was able to offer "considerable detail" about what she saw, in a description he found to be "clear, consistent and cogent."

"She told me that the position of a woman in their culture made her concerned about speaking out, particularly with respect to a person in the position of Mr. Gill," Carruthers wrote.

Gill, on the other hand, offered a "simple denial and a series of general allegations," Carruthers wrote.

"He offered no alternate explanations and most of what he alleges seems to me not to be relevant or supported by the facts as I have determined them."

On Wednesday, Gill said he was told to take it or leave it at the time he first reviewed the report in July. 

"Based on that, I did what I did," he said.

"I found out later on the key witnesses were not interviewed or their statements were not taken."

"That's why I did what I did yesterday," he added, referring to his speech in the legislature Tuesday where he alleged the party's nomination process was crooked and racist.

Report speaks for itself, UCP says

The UCP said Gill's accusations were without merit and the result of sour grapes.

UCP House Leader Jason Nixon said the report speaks for itself.

"While I find the whole situation very, very sad, [Gill] needs to take a look at his actions and how he ended up where he's at," he said.

Gill argued his privileges as an MLA were breached when Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson referenced the ballot-stuffing incident in the legislature last week.

Speaker Bob Wanner found that was not the case.