Equally disturbing has been Stelmach's handling of this. When the scandal broke, here's what Stelmach had to say:
"I didn't provide the names to the chief electoral officer," Stelmach said while in Calgary.
One quick call to Elections Alberta disputed that:
But here's the other half of the truth: the premier and his cabinet approved those officials, many of whom had been proposed by his party and MLAs, and have deep ties to the Conservative party.
On Dec. 19 last year, and again this Jan. 23, the government's executive council (the cabinet) voted to appoint returning officers for the province's 83 ridings.
As the premier's men have acknowledged, those people are nominated to Elections Alberta through Tory MLAs, riding associations and the main party.
Thus the Tories pick them and the Tories appoint them; and Stelmach is chairman of the almighty executive council that does the appointing.
Just so everyone understands what's going on. Returning officers are chosen by PC candidates and PC riding associations. Un-freaking-believable. At least a few Tory candidates have come around to admitting this needs changing but many still try to defend an indefensible policy. When you consider how hard Albertans have fought for transparency and openness at the federal level, I would hope they'd expect the same standards in their home province.
If you want an illustration of the dangers of one party rule for 37 years, I think this illustrates it better than anything. The PCs simply fail to grasp the difference between the Alberta government and the Progressive Conservative Party.