After five years, Canada’s national police force has concluded no charges will be laid in the notorious Kamikaze Affair, as allegations of fraud and identity theft in Jason Kenney’s victorious 2017 campaign to lead the newly formed Alberta United Conservative Party came to be known.

RCMP Superintendent Rick Jané at yesterday’s news conference (Photo: CBC).

The affair came by its colourful name because of an allegation that candidate Jeff Callaway was in the race on Mr. Kenney’s behalf solely to deliver a “Kamikaze” attack against Mr. Kenney’s chief rival for the leadership, former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean.

So the quick summary of what was announced yesterday by RCMP Superintendent Rick Jané is basically that the Mounties’ “extremely complex” investigations concluded that while there were “suspected instances of potential identity fraud,” as the force’s lengthy and defensive news release cautiously put it, “the number of potential votes at issue, which after investigation was less than 200, would not have impacted the leadership contest.” 

Anyway, the release continued, “there was no evidence that any leadership candidate orchestrated these relatively rare instances.” 

Ergo, “there was insufficient evidence to charge any suspect.”

But as soon as the RCMP sent out a peculiar notice to media inviting reporters to a confidential “technical brief and media availability in relation to a high-profile investigation,” it was obvious to almost everyone who follows Alberta politics that the glacial Kamikaze investigation was finally going to grind to a halt.

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who is now energy minister in Danielle Smith’s UCP cabinet (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And after reading the next part of the notice, it was equally clear that the investigation wasn’t about to end with a bang, but a whimper. 

“Important,” exclaimed the notice, surrounded with exquisite passive-aggressiveness by double asterisks, “due to the sensitive nature of the of the information being discussed, and with an understanding the RCMP would like this information to be released to the public in a fair and concurrent manner, reporters wishing to attend the Technical Brief will be requested to RSVP their attendance in advance and leave all recording devices (cameras, digital audio recorders, cell phones) in their vehicles or in our secured lobby under guard by our Commissionaires.” (Emphasis added.)

To say this is highly unusual would require time-consuming and intensive research – although not as time consuming and intensive as the RCMP’s marathon investigation, obviously, which the force said involved 65 investigators who conducted 563 interviews, took 12 out-of-province trips, and spent $460,877 in overtime and travel expenses above salaries and other fixed costs.

But to say it is not best public relations practice is obvious, unless the RCMP’s intention was to create the suspicion what it was about to announce was not quite the whole story, or its spokesperson needed a practice run with a high level of deniability to see what kind of questions the reporters would ask. 

At any rate, after the in camera practice run was completed, participants could move out to the lobby where their cameras and camera-people were waiting. 

Then we ordinary Albertans could all be reassured, via the RCMP’s fulsome statement, “that these allegations of possible voter fraud occurred during an internal political party voting process, and in no way represents any possible fraud or shortcomings in our general provincial and federal elections.”

Plus, while it is true that Mr. Callaway did drop out of the race and endorse Mr. Kenney, the RCMP concluded there’s no way to prove that he and the former federal cabinet minister colluded to sink Mr. Jean’s campaign in a way that violated section 380 of the Criminal Code, that is to say, by fraud.

As for the allegations of identity theft, the Mounties noted, they were investigated as potential violations of section 403 of the Criminal Code, identity fraud. Evidence was insufficient there too to proceed to charges. 

Press Progress reported that Superintendent Jané did concede that in many cases of suspicious votes, police had evidence from individuals whose names appeared on the UCP voter list that they had “no knowledge” of voting “or did not permit anyone to vote on their behalf.” But lacking witnesses to what might have happened when the actual voting took place, “we didn’t have that evidence at the end of the day.”

So – after five seemingly interminable years – it would appear that without the formality of an actual trial, the RCMP have reached what used to be known as a Scotch verdict – not proven.

Nevertheless, Mr. Kenney quickly declared on social media that the result of the long RCMP investigation, “confirms categorically what I have said all along: there was no wrongdoing on the part of me or of my 2017 UCP leadership campaign.”

Mr. Kenney’s tweet linked to a longer statement that called the original allegations “obviously ridiculous bad faith complaints that led to a string of defamatory accusations,” and concluded, “today’s outcome is a total vindication of my 2017 leadership campaign.”

Mr. Kenney won the leadership vote decisively, with 36,625 votes or 61 per cent of the ballots cast, compared to 18,336 or 31 per cent for Mr. Jean and 4,273 or 7 per cent for Doug Schweitzer.

One supposes it will never be known if the lingering miasma from the Kamikaze Affair had any influence at all on the 2022 leadership review vote by UCP members, many unhappy with his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, whose 51.4-per-cent approval vote effectively ended his tenure as Alberta premier and sent him packing. 

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  1. It was like that scene from the movie Casablanca, where Captain Louis Renault walks into the casino and is shocked that there’s gambling going on, before he pockets his winnings.

    I’ve seen it and I know that leadership elections are dirty affairs that no one really wants to regulate. I think one only needs to know the backstory behind Preston Manning being ousted from the leadership of his own creation to see that internal politics is usually practised by the criminally-minded.

    And then they wonder why so many leave organized political parties and swear never to vote again. I refuse to vote in any election because the short of people involved are routinely the worst kind of people.

  2. Is it just me? Your headline photo reminds me of “Porky Pig” congratulating “Elmer Fud” for shooting “Daffy Duck”.

  3. Yes, this investigation ended with a whimper not a bang. I suppose with Kenney gone as leader this is all somewhat academic now, although it does remove one of the obstacles to a potential come back for him.

    It is an odd and awkward conclusion, there was identity theft and possibly collusion, but it can’t be proven. It doesn’t seem the identity theft known about by the RCMP was at a scale to affect the outcome, but the whole Callaway part with all the illegal donations (that was a different investigation) seems to have been intended to affect the race. Either that, or it was a very bizarre and pointless candidacy out of right field which made little sense. Of course, not proven, but that does not mean the intentions were innocent by whoever put this together.

    I suppose the UCP will be glad to have this mess behind them even if the current leadership are not Kenney fans. It does no good to continue to air the party’s past dirty laundry. Perhaps Kenney would have done a bit better in his leadership review without this cloud still over him, but there were also a number of other concerns about his leadership at the time.

  4. Kenney cheated and got away with it. RCMP is complicit and proves again that they exist to protect their polticial friends from accountability.

    1. Cool Xenu: I’m sure he did cheat to win. I feel this is a cover-up. Also, I wouldn’t doubt that there are many other players in the ploy to get the UCP elected, in 2019. The UCP didn’t get into power honestly. Democracy seems to have gone kaput in Alberta.

  5. So now I must add “not proven” to my small vocabulary from the land of lochs and heather. Scot, Scottish and Scotch, the latter having various “proofs” of alcohol. No relation to the legal “proof”, or am I as confused as a skein of wool in the paws of a drunk kitten?

    1. Lefty: Scotch is the word traditionally associated with the highly useful Not Proven verdict in Scots’ Law. At least in some Scottish circles, the replacement of Scotch with Scottish was considered “a Sassenach affecation” as John Kenneth Galbraith, the great Canadian economist and public servant, put it in The Scotch in 1963. Or so I recall. I’m sure that opinion would not be shared by many nowadays in Scotland. DJC

        1. Paul: Apparently not, so saith the Internet. “Skot,” in Old Icelandic, or maybe Middle English or something, meant tax, therefore scot free means tax free, and has been extended to mean exempt from punishment. Here endeth the lesson. DJC

          1. No worries, Paul. It gave me an opportunity to release my inner smartarse. DJC

  6. Looks like the right to security of the person does not extend to their identity, their right to vote, or their other property rights. So, is anyone surprised the UCP has just dictated another government land grab by ruling landowners cannot choose to have solar panels on their farm land, but they must accept any toxic fossil fuel junk any company wants to dump on their farm or ranch land?

  7. I don’t know why Danielle Smith wants to replace the RCMP with a provincial force. The RCMP appear to be perfectly capable of doing what they are told.

    On a more positive note, we now know how to run a kamikaze campaign, complete with finance campaign fraud and identity theft without fear of consequences. A fine lesson for all future leadership hopefuls, indeed!

  8. Identity theft? We laugh at identity theft, just like we laugh at transportation economics and climate physics. We are exceptional.

    1. Mother Teressa here: Bless the RCMP for not finding identity theft and for not charging Jason Kenney.
      Also, please bless dear Dani Smith and all the little UCPers as they tuck into the Canada Pension Plan.

  9. Why did Mack Sennett, being born in Canada, use the Keystone Kops in his movies instead of the RCMP? Was it because he wanted comedy as opposed to farce?

    1. Eye: Sennett founded Keystone Studios in 1912. The RCMP was founded in 1920. While the RCMP was a merger of the Dominion Police (founded in 1868) and the Royal North West Mounted Police (founded in 1873), both were for all intents and purposes military units, the former set up to provide bodyguards for officials, guards for Parliament and military installations, and to spy on the Fenians, the latter as a cavalry regiment to occupy the North West Territories while branded as police so as not to unduly alarm the neighbours. Arguably, many of the RCMP’s current troubles have their origins in the colonial military origins of the DP and RNWMP, but it’s hard to say when the force descended into a full gong show. Probably too late to have had much impact on the konduct of the Keystone Kops, although Sennett did live until 1960. DJC

  10. Is the RCMP trying to give the ucp reasons to replace them? Because of their incompetence in investigating us we feel the need to replace them with someone even more corrupt.

  11. The problem with a criminal investigation is that the police need to find a specific person against whom to lay charges, and do so with enough evidence to suggest a reasonable probability or conviction. This entire smelly affair would seem to be more diffuse in terms of responsibility, not something that lends itself well to criminal charges against any one individual.

    But did their investigation also look at potential violations of either the [Alberta] Election Act, or the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act? My suspicion is, no, they did not, but there might have been sufficient evidence to justify laying charges under those pieces of legislation, even if not not Criminal Code charges.

    1. Jerry: Charges were brought by the Election Commissioner and fines were paid stemming from Elections Act matters. The RCMP’s was a criminal investigation. DJC

  12. Something is a little bit fishy here, and suspect too. It took this investigation by the R.C.M.P long enough to come to a conclusion. I’m still not buying it that no wrongdoing happened. The UCP are quite shady. It seems like it’s a cover-up, and I won’t believe otherwise.

    1. The RCMP did not say no wrongdoing occurred, they are saying they are not capable of figuring this out.

    1. Mike J Danysh: The former head honcho of the UCP had something to do with the robocalls affair, when he was a CPC MP. It doesn’t surprise me one bit, that he won’t adhere to the rules. The UCP dodges the rules, and avoids any real consequences.

  13. “due to the sensitive nature of the of the information being discussed”

    1. “Sensitive” how, why, to who, in what manner, ect.? ( “I reject the entire premise of your question.”) Explain in detail. Dead silence.

    2. “Sensitive” like this, for e.g.?

    3. “There was a crooked politician, . . . ” “”Vindicated” I tell you!”

    (“Handed an envelope obviously full of cash during a 1993 hotel meeting with Karlheinz Schreiber, Brian Mulroney says he hesitated a moment at what he thought was an “unconventional” payment. But he shrugged off that fleeting doubt and took the money, he told a public inquiry on Friday.”)

    4. Lots of “vindication” and “vindicated” in Canada. “Reputations” and the keeping up of appearances (the performance) must be preserved, after all. What would the neighbors think? Easily bought suckers?

    1. Alkyl: The Watergate comparison is apropos, and I only reluctantly left it out of the original piece to keep it from climbing over 1,000 words. Like the shenanigans commissioned by Mr. Nixon at the Watergate, as the election results showed, Mr. Kenney had a decisive victory within his grasp no matter what. But if Mr. Nixon had faced an investigation like that conducted by the RCMP, he would have completed his second term and never have risked indictment. He would be remembered as one of America’s most successful presidents. DJC

  14. The three-verdict system of Scottish jurisprudence has its analogy in the US Department of Justice’s ‘verdict’ on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. As with the DoJ, the RCMP’s investigative conclusions are as quasi-judicial as it gets. Both jurisdictions, Alberta’s and America’s, use English Common Law, not Scottish. Only such quasi-judicial, semi-public-otherwise-in-camera inquiries could therefore arrive at “not proven” rather than either “innocent” or “guilty” like in a real court of law.

    The analogy is apropos: K-Boy lost no time in asserting, just like Donald F tRump, his supposed ‘total exoneration’. Once again parallels of partisan rhetoric are remarkably alike in either jurisdiction of pseudoCondom.

    But it’s also like the stoner pleading for the judge’s leniency because the amount of contraband in question was just a little, tiny amount—and the judge practices cher dry wit by likening the logic to being ‘just a little bit pregnant’ (before peering over cher spectacles to see if anyone in the courtroom is laughing—which of course some find politic do so). The other parallel is the RCMP’s rationale that the alleged “Kamikaze” cheating involved a party, not a general election—which of course invites comparison between possessing, say, a prohibited substance in the privacy of one’s home or at a schoolyard when kids are in recess: the offence is as illegal in either case, only the potential judgement and punishment differentiating.

    The five-plus years taken to arrive at the “Scotch verdict” seems convenient to letting too much dust of time to cover tracks and make faded or false memories more believable. Am I alleging anything like this happened in this case? To paraphrase US Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the RCMP apparently cannot indict an unseated premier—and that its findings therefore do not mean ‘total exoneration.’

    …so it’s “not proven” whether I’m making such a defamatory—or damning— accusation. Damning isn’t my purview, anyhow.

  15. I’ve heard years ago of someone running an extra candidate to their own electoral benefit; it seems like sharp practice but may not be illegal.
    But shame on Kenney for all his sleazy tactics including encouraging people to harass opponents such as Sandra Jansen. He probably would have won if he had run a clean campaign but instead he jumped in the gutter.

    1. Valerie: There’s nothing illegal about encouraging an extra candidate to run to your advantage in a winner-takes-all race. Happens all the time. As long as you obey the election financing rules, whatever they happen to be at the time of the election. The allegation in this case was that Mr. Callaway had committed fraud by implying to donors he was running to win. This always struck me as far too much of a reach that was never likely to result in criminal charges let alone a conviction. The identity theft allegations had more potential to cause trouble for the people involved. The interesting thing about the Kamikaze Candidate matter is that it was widely and openly talked about in Conservative circles before the leadership election, and discussed in this blog at the time, as if it were a perfectly normal and acceptable tactic. Originally, the Kamikaze Candidate was rumoured to be another more prominent Conservative, who ended up not running, at which point Mr. Callaway was supposedly found to play the part. Surely the RCMP could have taken less than five year to figure out that there was no potential for charges in that matter, and have said so. DJC

      1. Agreed. Donating to any candidate is going to be chancey and how many failed candidates were deluded into thinking they would win? If you choose to gamble don’t yell “fraud!” when you lose.
        Actually, now that I think of it, did Kenney ever reveal who his donors were for those leadership races? Probably not, they were using the Privacy Act excuse in 2018:

  16. Hey, wasn’t this the “election” where the UCP enabled bulk-buying of party memberships via credit card? Maximum 400 memberships per purchase, wasn’t it? Sounded to me like a modern, highly efficient procedure for vote-buying.

    There were a damn sight more than 200 “party members” signed up under this scam. Does it count as “identity fraud” if random names from the party membership list are assigned throwaway email accounts for the purpose of voting—regardless of whether the named person (assuming they exist) knows he’s “voting”?

    Nope, I guess not.

    So Jason Kenney’s legal eagles bent the law over backwards, but didn’t—quite—break it. Yay.

    An obvious counter to such electronic equivalents of stuffing the ballot box was suggested at the time. Maybe we ought to revisit this. Party-leadership “elections” should not be left to the honesty of the parties. Make ‘em use Elections Alberta as the voting organizer and vote counter. Make ‘em use paper ballots, like our federal elections do. And make ‘em pay for the privilege of using the services of an impartial government agency to GUARANTEE that even party-leaders are elected in a free, fair and impartial contest.

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