EDMONTON — An Alberta legislature member who quit the United Conservative caucus five months ago in a scandal over ballot box stuffing now says he didn’t do it.
Prab Gill said he had barely read the party’s five-page investigation report when he accepted its findings of guilt in July and quit, suggesting he felt like it was a done deal.
“Based on the information provided to me … (it was) leave it or take it. Based on that, I did what I did,” Gill said Wednesday.
The Independent member for Calgary-Greenway said he has since read the report more thoroughly and has concerns.
“I found out later on that key witnesses were not interviewed or their statements were not taken,” he said.
This past summer, the United Conservatives brought in retired judge Ted Carruthers to investigate Gill’s actions at a June 30 meeting of the Calgary-North East constituency. Gill was running for the party’s nomination in that constituency.
Carruthers’ report has not been made public, but a copy was obtained by The Canadian Press.
The report notes that on that day, the constituency called a meeting to elect board members and executives for the newly redrawn riding.
Carruthers focused on one witness working the voter registration table, but noted there was supporting evidence to back her version of events.
The woman at the table was in charge of a stack of voting ballots. She said Gill came over, casually took some ballots and walked away. When she confronted him, he returned some of the ballots but not all.
When the ballots were later counted, there were 124 in the box even though only 74 people had registered to vote.
Carruthers also noted that 14 of the ballots were not initialled by the registrars to guarantee their authenticity. Those 14 ballots endorsed a candidate for constituency president known to be backed by Gill.
The party cancelled the vote and the investigation was launched.
Carruthers said, on balance, he believed the woman at the registration table over Gill, calling her evidence “clear, consistent and cogent” while Gill offered a blanket denial and little else.
Gill then resigned from caucus issuing a statement saying he didn’t agree with everything from Carruthers’ probe but that the investigation was fair, adding “I accept the findings.”
There the matter rested until Gill stood in the house last week to criticize the government for what he called undemocratic changes to election fundraising rules. Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson and Government House Leader Brian Mason retorted that it was “rich” to be lectured on democratic ethics given Gill’s ballot stuffing controversy.
On Tuesday, Gill told the house that it was time to clear his name, calling the Carruthers probe a “sham” and accusing the United Conservatives of threatening in July to bankrupt him in court if he fought back.
United Conservative house leader Jason Nixon said Wednesday no one in the party coerced or threatened Gill.
“We find this whole situation very sad,” said Nixon. “At the end of the day, I hate to say it, it’s sour grapes.
“The spot that Mr. Gill finds himself in is his own fault.”