Decision of Ethics Commissioner highlights holes in Conflict of Interest rules: NDP

EDMONTON – Today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called on Premier Prentice to fix the legislative loophole compelling today’s ruling by the Ethics Commissioner that Gordon Dirks’ modular school funding during the Calgary-Elbow by-election campaign was within the letter of the law.

The Ethics Commissioner dismissed the complaints against Dirks, noting that while his was a “purely political decision” that was “blatant political opportunism”, the Conflict of Interest Act contains no language prohibiting ministers from making funding decisions that would further their electoral fortunes. She also indicated that had she been asked she would have advised Dirks not to act on specific issues in his constituency during the by-election.
“Regardless of the loopholes in the existing legislation, Albertans know the difference between right and wrong. It is not acceptable that this PC government uses the public purse as its own personal campaign fund. This doesn’t pass the smell test and Albertans deserve better,” said Notley.
Notley also called on Dirks to publicly apologize for behavior that the Commissioner said was inappropriate and created an “unfortunate perception”.
“Albertans want to know that vital public infrastructure like schools are being delivered to the communities that need them most. There are students all over this province who have been waiting years to have schools built in their communities and this PC government is blowing them off while making decisions to benefit itself,” said Notley.
In December, the NDP called on the government to amend the Conflict of Interest Act so that it would prohibit ministerial campaigning with public funds. The Prentice PCs rejected that call.