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RCMP spoke to Alberta justice minister about investigation into alleged voter fraud in UCP leadership race

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer is refusing calls for an outside prosecutor to oversee the RCMP investigation of alleged voter fraud in the UCP leadership vote despite confirming he was personally questioned by the Mounties this past weekend.

Doug Schweitzer still refusing to consider NDP calls for an independent Crown prosecutor to oversee file

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer has spoken with the RCMP about allegations of voter fraud in the United Conservative Party's leadership campaign, CBC has learned. (Drew Anderson/CBC)

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer is refusing calls for an outside prosecutor to oversee the RCMP investigation of alleged voter fraud in the UCP leadership vote despite confirming he was personally questioned by the Mounties this past weekend.

Schweitzer told the legislature on Monday that he "learned from the RCMP that they wanted to talk to me on Saturday and I met with them on Sunday for a brief 30-minute discussion."

He said he answered the police questions fully and "they had no further, other questions for me."

Outside the legislature, Schweitzer said, "I personally am not under investigation."

"The RCMP told me as much," he said when asked how he knows that, adding, "they asked me about the leadership race and that was it."

Schweitzer, as justice minister and solicitor general, is responsible for ensuring the independence of several ongoing RCMP investigations related to the UCP leadership race, in which he was a candidate. He is also generally responsible for policing in the province and his ministry signs a contract with the RCMP for provincial policing.

But despite the fact that Schweitzer himself raised concerns about voter fraud during the 2017 UCP leadership vote, he has repeatedly refused to hire an outside prosecutor to oversee those investigations.

Opposition leader Rachel Notley told reporters Schweitzer needs to act to ensure there is not even a perception of bias.

"We're now officially at the point where the attorney general has been drawn directly into an investigation," Notley said. "Quite frankly, he is at risk of appropriately being in a position where he should be stepping aside as attorney general.

"In the absence of that, it is jaw-dropping that we're not at a point where they are calling in a special prosecutor."

Schweitzer has repeatedly claimed an outside prosecutor isn't needed because the RCMP is conducting an independent investigation. But as Notley and others have pointed out, that ignores the fact police often seek advice from Crown prosecutors during an investigation. In this case, the province's Crown prosecutors ultimately answer to Schweitzer.

On Monday, he was again repeatedly asked why he will not appoint an outside prosecutor, especially since he has been personally questioned by police.

He refused to directly answer and instead repeated the same talking point about the RCMP's independent investigation.

Raised concerns about voter fraud

Just hours after the United Conservative Party leadership voting process began in late October 2017, Schweitzer and fellow candidate Brian Jean tried to have the vote suspended over concerns about voter fraud. The party refused, insisting the process was secure.

But CBC News and other news outlets have revealed serious problems with the vote and the RCMP are now conducting criminal investigations in both Calgary and Edmonton.

In Calgary, documents revealed email addresses fraudulently attached to party memberships were used to cast ballots in the leadership vote. And people with suspect emails attached to their memberships confirmed they did not vote in the leadership race, and that their emails were different from the ones on the list.

The RCMP are also investigating allegations of illegal political donations to the UCP leadership campaign of Jeff Callaway. Documents obtained by CBC News show Callaway ran for the sole purpose of targeting Brian Jean on behalf of the campaign of Jason Kenney.

Alberta's elections commissioner so far has issued fines totalling $71,000 related to improper donations to Callaway's campaign and attempts to obstruct his office's investigation.

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