ALBERTA (660 NEWS) — Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel is challenging new legislation that has made him ineligible for this year’s election.
He–along with several other Alberta Party members–has been banned from running for public office after failing to file mandatory financial paperwork on time. In a statement, the Alberta Party says Elections Alberta notified Mandel that his financial return was late following his nomination as the Alberta Party candidate for Edmonton-McClung.
Mandel is asking the Court of Queen’s Bench to overturn a five-year ban, preventing him from running for office. Now he is using his own dime to take the matter to court.
During a press conference, Mandel shed some light on what went wrong when he failed to file his financial paperwork on time. Elections Alberta barred Mandel from running in the election for five years after he blew the deadline.
According to Mandel, his CFO Brian Heidecker was responsible for filing the paperwork and assumed he had done it.
“I regret that we are in this situation and I appreciate the importance of the rule of law and getting paperwork in on time,” he said. Mandel was reluctant to throw Heidecker, his former CFO who has since resigned, under the bus.
“My CFO was sick, he had to resign, he was the head of the party’s fundraising. He had to resign because he was not well,” he stated. “As a result of that he missed some of the dates and that’s part of the reason we’re here today.”
Initially, Mandel claimed there was confusion about the deadlines stating, “based on our interpretation of a July 2018 letter we received from Elections Alberta, we believe we have filed within the required deadline.” However, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Drew Westwater of Elections Alberta maintains that communication on that front was very clear.
“We feel we are very clear in our communications with the candidates and the stakeholders in the political process,” Westwater said.
“He received several pieces of communication from us upon registration and prior to the filing deadlines reminding him of the dates for the filing deadlines and the requirements for filing — he received those prior to the deadline.”
While Westwater concedes that nomination contest reporting and requirements are brand new for this election, Elections Alberta posts, conducts candidate meetings, meetings at party conferences, and candidate conferences for all the parties upon request.
He also pointed out that they post guidelines on Elections Alberta’s website for all parties, candidates and third-party advertisers in addition to sending letters to people who register to inform them what the rules are, so they are aware of them.
Mandel and other Alberta Party members who were also deemed ineligible are appealing to the court. They will be required to explain why they missed the deadline and the court will decide if they have a legitimate reason or valid concern for not meeting the deadline.
‘We hope our efforts will clarify the rules, which will benefit all candidates as well as the democratic process,” Mandel explained what he hoped would come from the court challenge. “We don’t want to see good candidates discouraged from running because they aren’t sure about the rules.”
It’s the first time this legislation for candidate requirements has been tested and it’s unclear how the Court of Queen’s Bench will rule.
“The purpose of the legislation is to have openness and transparency in all election financing matters,” Westwater said. “So all parties, candidates and third-party advertisers are required by the legislation to disclose publicly all their contributions and expenditures for election purposes.”
When asked what would happen if he wasn’t able to run for a seat in the election Madel responded: “We don’t believe that is going to happen.” He said there was no plan ‘b’.
He plans to fund his own legal defense but said the party would help other candidates deemed ineligible with legal costs should they chose to contest the decision.
Mandel, the former Mayor of Edmonton, was elected party leader last year and is the candidate in the Edmonton-McClung riding.