EDMONTON — Alberta's New Democrats want independent oversight and an ethics ruling on the controversy surrounding the United Conservative leadership race won by Jason Kenney before he became premier.
Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says she has sent a letter to the Justice Department calling for a special prosecutor to oversee RCMP investigations into alleged voting and funding irregularities in the 2017 race.
Notley says Kenney and new Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer — who ran for and lost the leadership to Kenney — need to be at arm's length from investigations or prosecutions.
"Prosecution and investigation of the law must be kept independent from political interference," Notley said Thursday.
"This is why it is so fundamentally important that a special prosecutor be appointed immediately."
She has also written to the ethics commissioner asking for a ruling on whether Kenney and Schweitzer are in a conflict of interest, given their participation in the leadership race and the new titles they hold after being sworn in this week.
"We have people investigating their bosses," said Notley. "We are in a position that needs to be addressed on an urgent basis."
Notley also talked about the case of Peter Singh, a UCP candidate who won the constituency of Calgary-East just days after Mounties searched his auto repair shop and confiscated a hard drive.
Singh's lawyer has said the raid was tied to the voter fraud investigation and Singh has said he has done nothing wrong.
Singh and other backbench UCP legislature members have yet to be sworn in as legislature members.
Notley said that traditionally a member facing serious criminal charges should step outside caucus until the matter is resolved —and Singh should as well.
"It is not appropriate to have someone sitting in that legislature who is under criminal investigation. It is really that simple."
Singh could not be reached for comment. Government spokeswoman Christine Myatt said there would be a response later.
Mounties have been investigating allegations that email addresses were fraudulently attached to party memberships to cast ballots in the UCP leadership contest.
Kenney handily defeated main challenger, Brian Jean of the former Wildrose party, and Schweitzer. They both expressed concerns at the time that voter fraud had occurred, but the committee overseeing the vote said it found no such evidence.
Schweitzer went on to win the Calgary-Elbow riding in the April 16 election in which the United Conservatives defeated Notley's NDP.
Alberta's elections commissioner is also reviewing the 2017 leadership contest and has levelled fines over illegal funding for Calgary businessman Jeff Callaway, who was also a leadership candidate.
Kenney has faced, and rejected, allegations that Callaway was a puppet who entered the race on Kenney's behalf solely to attack Jean while Kenney stayed above the fray.
In March, documents surfaced showing that the Kenney and Callaway campaigns shared talking points, attack ads and agreed on a date on which Callaway would quit the race to back Kenney.
Kenney said such communication is normal in politics.