Ethics commissioner shuts down calls for intervention on Bill 22

Nov 21 2019, 11:52 am

This week, Alberta legislature has had its fair share of controversy surrounding Bill 22, including numerous calls to the Ethics Commissioner by the Official Opposition to investigate the bill.

These requests were ultimately denied, and Bill 22 passed the third reading in legislature this morning.

Bill 22: the Reform of Agencies, Boards, and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, which calls for the removal of the elections commissioner, raised some concerns amongst members of the official opposition who were vocal about the implications of the bill.

Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler responded in a letter today to NDP Leader Rachel Notley’s request for an investigation and intervention into the bill.

According to Trussler, the office of the Ethics Commissioner also received 10 other requests related to Bill 22 — either requesting it be investigated or to stop proceedings altogether.

While Trussler did say that any of the MLAs that are being investigated by the Elections Commissioner or the RCMP would be in breach of the Conflict of Interests Act if they were to vote on the bill, she declined the calls to intervene or investigate.

“I do not have the power to request the government to delay proceedings with Bill 22. It is not within my limited jurisdiction to do so. It would be improper for me to interfere with the political process,” said Trussler in the letter.

The passing of the bill will fire elections commissioner Lorne Gibson, and Notley has been vocal about how she believes this move will benefit the premier and “threaten Alberta’s democracy.”

“For Mr. Kenney to fire the Elections Commissioner in the middle of an open investigation into the conduct of his own party during his leadership race is, as far as I know, without precedent in Alberta’s history,” Notley said in a statement earlier this week.

Notley, who was removed from legislature for refusing to apologize to the house leader related to comments about Bill 22, is still barred from the house.

Bill 22 still needs to receive Royal Assent before it comes into force.

You can read Bill 22 in its entirety here.