The UCP government did something not even President Donald Trump was allowed to do – it removed the very person investigating it.
House Leader Jason Nixon claimed “no one is firing anybody,” and Bill 22 is simply a move to save money by transferring the election commissioner role to a staff position under the chief electoral officer, rather than have it remain an independent office of the legislature.
However, terminating Lorne Gibson will certainly benefit the UCP. After all, he was tasked with investigating the party’s 2017 leadership race, and to date has levied more than $211,000 in fines against UCP members for financing violations.
Premier Jason Kenney, who has been conspicuously absent from the legislature during debate of the bill – which should be noted was limited to one-hour at each stage of the process, thanks to the UCP invoking time allocations – said, “There should be no interruption in any ongoing investigations or any enforcement action.”
Really? A shake-up of this magnitude will surely have implications, just as any transfer of position would impact project timeline, focus and more.
If the optics weren’t bad enough, Bill 22 also alters the control and investment management of 400,000 Albertans’ pension plans – including handing the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF)to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). This was done without consulting teachers or retired educators.
The government claims this, too, is about cutting costs. The Alberta Teachers’ Association disagrees, saying the UCP has never adequately responded to data indicating ATRF outperforms AIMCo, even after costs have been factored in, and the move could increase costs to government.
Whatever your political alignment, Albertans need to question every step of this bill – democracy requires it.