Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel in a typical recent pose (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This just in!

Elections Alberta’s updated list of candidates ineligible to run as candidates or serve as chief elections officers includes at least one name most Albertans will recognize.

Mr. Mandel wearing his trademark bowtie and absolutely his best pair of spectacles back when he was a Tory minister of the Crown (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

To wit: Stephen Mandel.

Yes, that Stephen Mandel.

That is, the Stephen Mandel who leads the Alberta Party.

The former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative Party cabinet minister appears not to have filed his post-vote financial accounting paperwork after the nomination election for the Edmonton-McClung riding last fall in a sufficiently timely fashion.

Elections Alberta, therefore, has banned him from running until Sept. 27, 2023.

For his part, Mr. Mandel disputes the ruling and says he did file his paperwork on time. His lawyers sent a letter to counsel for Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler on Feb. 2 arguing that Elections Alberta calculated the statutory period for filing incorrectly in its correspondence last year with Mr. Mandel.

Five other Alberta Party candidates – Ali Haymour, Diana Ly, Amrit Matharu, Moe Rahall and Rachel Timmermans – face the same fate.

Alberta Chief Electoral Officer Glen Resler (Photo: Elections Alberta).

“In the circumstances,” the lawyers wrote, “we would expect the CEO to retract and withdraw the January 30, 2019 notice of contravention sent to our clients.” The letter also asked Mr. Resler to delay submitting his report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and remove reference to “the alleged breach” from its publications.

Mr. Mandel will hold a news conference this afternoon at 2 o’clock. But he said last night he’ll be asking the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday to overturn the ban.

Meanwhile, some social media commentators, unable to resist the temptation to mock Mr. Mandel for the SNAFU, were having fun last night. “Paperwork is hard,” observed one, dryly. This was a sly reference to then-Tory-premier Jim Prentice’s disastrously flubbed “math is hard” shot in 2015.

Mr. Mandel, known to be cranky when crossed, is unlikely to be amused. Nor will he be happy to be reminded it’s always prudent to file your paperwork sooner than later.

Embarrassment would be appropriate. Expect bluster. Maybe even fireworks.

What the political implications of this unexpected wrinkle will turn out to be is uncertain.

If the CEO sticks to his guns not to let Mr. Mandel run in the election expected to be called by NDP Premier Rachel Notley almost any day now, and the courts agree, it surely won’t be good news for the Alberta Party.

The party struggled to stay on the electoral radar before Mr. Mandel, 73 and bored with retirement, kindly agreed to take its reins in hand.

If it turns out they need a new leader on short notice, there’s always Greg Clark. The former leader, rather mysteriously shoved aside when Mr. Mandel appeared on the scene, has experience in the role.

If Mr. Mandel manages to overturn the ban, whether this will be bad news or good for the Alberta Party remains to be seen.

There was a day when failing to file your paperwork on time might have been seen by voters as evidence a candidate is not qualified to run a peanut stand, let alone a government. Nowadays, though, who knows? We live in an era when any publicity may be good publicity.

Perhaps this will turn out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to the Alberta Party!

Stand by for updates.

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  1. This should be a tempest in a teapot. Mandel and his party obviously should have known the rules and followed them.
    But the punishment for late filing — automatic ban from running for public office for five years — is quite draconian. I wouldn’t want to gloat over the Mandel problem too much.

  2. Oh, puhleeze… it’s not like Mandel is a newbie to politics who didn’t know what the rules are. These rules are also not new, as evidenced by the list of banned people that dates back to the 2012 election——when the old PC-era electoral rules were still in effect.

    I think this is just another example of the perpetual Alberta philosophy that “the rules don’t apply to me”, seen most egregiously on our roads & streets where the right to break the law seems to be valued more than the duty to enforce it.

  3. The “dog ate my homework” excuse isn’t likely to fly for Mandel — no matter how hard he and his lawyers bark.

    Elections Alberta is meticulous. They should be when it’s the only job they’ve got to do — looking after administrative matters surrounding by-elections, elections and referenda.

    Most Albertans on reading about this glaring oversight will likely chalk it up to disorganization. That’s a quality that will never endear you to the electorate. Mandel should just walk away before he loses the remaining political gravitas he has left. This could get real ugly.

  4. To paint this as an Alberta Party blunder would be disingenuous. The updated list of ineligible candidates contains individuals representing several other parties. The highest profile individual just happens to be Stephen Mandel. To be honest (and of course in my own humble opinion), if Mandel loses his appeal and Greg Clark resumed the role of leader, even on an interim basis, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Clark is still considered to be an individual of integrity among many, which is something Alberta desperately needs.

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