Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean was tagged with a $500 administrative penalty by Elections Alberta for the handling of a pre-election Stampede breakfast event in the summer of 2021.
The decision, authored by Elections Alberta Chief Electoral Officer and Election Commissioner Glen Resler, was delivered Dec. 6.
In early August 2021, fellow Ward 13 candidate Jay Unsworth filed a complaint with Elections Alberta over the July 2021 Stampede breakfast held by McLean. Unsworth said at the time that they were concerned about McLean’s Facebook thanks to 31 businesses who provided giveaways to attendees.
Businesses aren’t able to make campaign donations under election rules.
At the time, McLean said that all the prizes were given away. He received no direct financial benefit, he said. McLean also said the event was vetted by legal counsel.
Resler’s decision indicated that McLean accepted prohibited contributions under 147.2(5) of the Local Authorities Election Act. The baseline penalty for the offence is $500. The maximum penalty is $5,000. Elections Alberta uses a seven-step penalty framework to determine if the penalty should increase (or decrease).
While the decision indicated that McLean would have appeared to gain favour in return for distribution of prizes, the conduct was labelled as unintentional. It also said that the violation was due to a misinterpretation of the rules.
The decision also showed that McLean was cooperative during the investigation, and he later indicated they should have contacted Elections Alberta for guidance. It also acknowledged McLean’s acceptance of responsibility.
Unaware of the wrongdoing, said McLean
On Tuesday, McLean told LiveWire Calgary that he figured he was helping out at a time when businesses were hurting because of the pandemic.
He said all the contributions were recorded and those who got the prizes were also recorded.
“(Elections Alberta is) just saying that I would have got a net benefit because, maybe because I looked good, or because I had a good idea,” he said.
McLean said it was a “nothingburger” and the complaint was the result of a bitterness on the part of a losing candidate. He cited other candidates with suspect contributions or silent auctions to benefit their campaigns.
“I have a Stampede breakfast and give stuff away and everybody wants to make a news story out of it,” he said.
Unsworth said today’s news is the result of a lengthy investigation that’s due to McLean receiving not one, but several improper contributions. Unsworth said he found McLean’s response to the penalty disappointing but not surprising.
“I am pleased to see Mr. McLean has been held accountable for breaking the rules,” Unsworth said.
“I respect the democratic process by which Mr. McLean was elected. However, as more of his wrongdoings come to light, I believe it’s clear that we deserve far better representation.”
According to Elections Alberta, the LAEA doesn’t prohibit a person from being nominated as a candidate in the future when they have been previously issued an administrative penalty.
“Section 22(1) of the LAEA applies to a conviction as a result of a prosecution, which does not apply to Mr. McLean,” they wrote in an email response.