Alberta Politics
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Why wouldn’t Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer appoint an independent prosecutor in the Kamikaze Campaign case?

Posted on May 29, 2019, 1:23 am
5 mins

So riddle me this:

Why wouldn’t Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer appoint an independent Crown prosecutor to oversee the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into allegations of voting fraud in the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership race?

Especially now it’s been revealed by the CBC that Mr. Schweitzer, who himself was a candidate in that race, has been interviewed by the RCMP about what he knew of Jeff Callaway’s campaign?

Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart of the High Court of Justice (Photo: Public Domain).

After all, as Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart of the High Court of Justice in London famously observed in 1924, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”

As a lawyer, one would certainly hope Mr. Schweitzer is familiar with the principle enunciated by Justice Hewart in R v Sussex Justices, ex parte McCarthy.

Is the reason that Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, who as a New Democratic Party premier seeking a second term attacked the UCP for the sleaze associated with the leadership race that brought Jason Kenney to power, is asking for a special prosecutor?

The Kamikaze Campaign, as it has come to be known, was the effort by Mr. Callaway to knock off Mr. Kenney’s principal rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, in a way that let Premier Kenney portray himself as the Gentleman Jason of Canadian politics.

Former UCP leadership candidate Jeff Callaway in his Wildrose Party days (Photo: Facebook).

If that’s why Mr. Schweitzer is resisting doing what’s obviously the only proper course available to him under the circumstances, given his own involvement in the campaign in which Mr. Callaway’s alleged “Kamikaze Mission” was conducted, that’s an understandable human emotion. Alas, it’s also a sound reason for ensuring that justice appears not to have been done.

Remember, Mr. Schweitzer himself complained that something was awry with the UCP’s voting procedures at the end of the campaign. The party ignored him then and he dropped the matter.

Moreover, he’s now the cabinet minister responsible for overseeing police investigations in the province, including those by the RCMP.

Or is the reason that the UCP won big and reckons it can bloody well do what it pleases as a result? Not a good reason either, it’s said here, and one that suggests serious ethical lapses in the ranks of the UCP may go beyond Mr. Callaway’s immediate circle.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Or is it just stubborn pride? A pious Christian like Mr. Kenney must be aware of King Solomon’s take on haughty spirits, which he supposedly advised goeth before a fall.

Well, it’ll be a while before the UCP has to worry about any falls. But every day Mr. Schweitzer delays appointing an independent prosecutor is a day he personally looks worse and the whole sordid affair – which has resulted in $71,000 in fines being levied by the Office of the Election Commissioner – smells worse.

As an aside, I’m sure the UCP would very much like to get rid of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson, but that’s a matter for another blog post.

Not appointing a special prosecutor won’t stop the RCMP from investigating. It’s an independent federal force, after all. But the optics are terrible nevertheless. It’s hard to understand why this is happening when the best way out of this mess for everyone – including the UCP, presumably – would be to appoint a special prosecutor and let the case proceed independently from any suggestion of tampering.

As Justice Hewart continued: “Nothing is to be done which creates even a suspicion that there has been an improper interference with the course of justice.” (Emphasis added, of course.)

What’s so hard to understand about that?

9 Comments to: Why wouldn’t Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer appoint an independent prosecutor in the Kamikaze Campaign case?

  1. Bill Malcolm

    May 29th, 2019

    “What’s so hard to understand about that?” Well it doesn’t square with the UCP mind, that’s what’s hard.

    The grasping Emperor Jason Nero 1 couldn’t care less about propriety, and just as he easily thwarted the none-too-bright Jean, putting a restraining hand on his own Justice minister to not play fair is child’s play. He’s out for himself, and to hell with anyone else, so no encouragement of investigation of his nefariousness will be allowed. The renewed Alberta whining about the rest of Canada doing them in is part of the scheme — if the RCMP decide there’s a case, the bleating about the Feds and the way they treat the superhuman people of Alberta will only intensify. They can get the attack dog Rempel to shrilly condemn the rest of us in the Commons, because she’s Alberta first and somewhat paranoid, based on observations of her past pronouncements, which even got 22 Minutes coverage.

    Alberta thinks it’s so special, the country has for over four decades endured Alberta complaining nobody listens to it when their blinkered view should be welcomed as deep and thoughtful countrywide policy. Why should we give them pride of place in this country? The easy arithmetic of figuring out why 11% of our populace, mired in pre-environmental crisis thinking of rampant resource extraction, and voting to be ruled by someone about as bright socially at his core as the hoity toits of Alabama, is not enough to tell the rest of us what to do, apparently constantly escapes small provincial minds. It’s preposterous to all of us but Alberta.

    That is all.

    DJC, great writing as usual. Most organized commentary around.

    Reply
  2. Bob Raynard

    May 29th, 2019

    Given the UPC’s limited understanding of the concept of independent oversight, I can’t see the point. The UPC leadership campaign was ‘independently’ audited by Dorward & Company, the company formed by the UPC candidate for Edmonton Gold Bar, David Dorward.

    Reply
  3. Simon Renouf

    May 29th, 2019

    As you say DC, why wouldn’t they appoint an independent prosecutor? It’s worth remembering that in 2006 then PC Justice Minister Ron Stevens appointed an independent prosecutor (the late Alex Pringle) to look into allegations that a key document had been altered by the government and presented to a freedom of information inquiry affecting the Edmonton Journal and government flight logs. In the end, no one was prosecuted. That case was documented by Charles Rusnell, then of the Journal.

    Reply
  4. Bill Fahey

    May 29th, 2019

    I suspect the investiagtion will be made to quietly go away in a few months when everyone has forgotten it.

    Kenney et al have zero integrity.

    BF

    Reply
    • anon

      June 1st, 2019

      Maybe. Alberta has a history. The bureaucrats know if they step out of line they will be fired or given the option of moving to some TB infested reserve. The Crown Prosecutors want to be appointed as Judges and are not stupid enough to step on delicate political toes (see above). Lawyers understand they will be relegated to doing wills and divorces if they step on said toes. The Judges know that the UCP will simply pass a new law nullifying any judicial decision they don’t like. And of course even the UCP are not dumb enough to appoint an impartial prosecutor, especially if a compliant Con from another province cannot be found. Welcome to Louisiana on the way down.

      Reply
  5. David

    May 29th, 2019

    Why would the UCP not appoint a special prosecutor? I think its because someone has something to serious hide and they feel what might be uncovered could be more damaging than the perception they are not being fully transparent here. There is obviously a temptation for the UCP to try control things, whether they go so far to obstruct or not, and the risk is they do lose a bit of control by appointing a special prosecutor. However, I would argue with the RCMP already involved they have lost control of this issue to a large degree, whether they realize it or not.

    It was easy for a while for the UCP to dismiss the NDP’s concerns during the election as political, but now that the election is over and there will not another one for several years, that argument is not very strong. Also the fact that this issue does not seem to be going away after the election either, with a drip, drip, drip of more fines and violations being announced since then by Elections Alberta and the RCMP meeting with more people since then, including the Justice Minister now.

    The Justice Minister has put himself in a somewhat uncomfortable position by not removing himself totally from this investigation, even more so now that the RCMP are talking to him. Also, how does he reconcile his original statements about concerns with the leadership voting process, with the current UCP position that basically it was all fine? I would love to hear him explain that to the public, as he would have had to try explain that to the RCMP. I have a feeling Mr. Schweitzer’s political career could be one of the casualties of this scandal. He may not have been involved as a perpetrator, but he sure seems to be trying to bury it and hope it will go away. I don’t think it will.

    Reply
  6. Chuckstraight

    May 29th, 2019

    Suggestion- Kenney should get his old buddy Dean Del Maestro to investigate.

    Reply
  7. Colino

    May 31st, 2019

    The Beagle Boys are now running Alberta’s government.

    Reply

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