Friday, February 27, 2009

This Week in Alberta - You're Fired!

This got buried beneath the billion dollar boondoggle last week, so this week's "This Week in Alberta", is pleased to bring you the tale of Lorne Gibson. Lorne was, up until last week, Alberta's Chief Electoral Officer. Now, given that the last election was a bit of a gong show, it’s understandable that Lorne would get a good grilling from the committee that decides his fate.

Lorne tried to explain away the problems by pointing out that many returning officers were only appointed two weeks prior to the writ being dropped – as supposed to the 13 months they had to prepare in 2004. But, you see, this suggestion implies that Ed Stelmach’s government dropped the ball, violating the first rule any impartial government appointee must live by – “Honour thy government and find no fault in what they do”.

Making matters worse, Lorne had the gall to call “for major reforms to “depoliticize” the province’s voting system”. De-politicize the voting system? Where does this guy think he is? He has also advocated for the bizarre position that election legislation should be “democratized”, and that “vestiges of former years” should be removed from it. Sure Lorne - keep smoking that wacky tabacky.

Faced with this insubordination, the Tories promptly exercised their majority to punt Gibson from his post - over the protests of the opposition parties.

AGRDT offers the complete media run-down of the saga, including some harsh words being directed Stelmach's way by former star candidate Arthur Kent.

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8 Comments:

  • From an anonymous post that was left on Daveberta's blog. I got a good laugh of watching that hypocrite Taft defending Gibson in question period last week, after he basically called Gibson useless last July. No wonder your party has zero credibility.

    *******************

    Maybe if Gibson had spent more time doing his job, instead of whining that his recommendations hadn't been dealt with, the last election wouldn't have resulted in stories like the one below, where your former boss takes Gibson to task. A proper enumeration might have solved a lot of problems, don't you think? I would also point out that the premier has said returning officer appointments will be given to the CEO's office. I do feel it is incumbent upon me to point out that Mr. Gibson has been a tad disingenuous on the whole RO issue. All returning officer recommendations were provided to him. He and his staff interviewed all candidates and rejected a number of them for various reasons. All the individuals who became ROs were accepted by him, BEFORE they were appointed by order-in-council. I'm told that PC office staff spent months finding 83 acceptable candidates, after he rejected numerous folks who were experienced, or drove them away (several qualified individuals attended his training sessions, then quit).

    Taft urges election probe
    March 3 vote 'worst-run' ever, Liberal leader says in letter to auditor general
    Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald; Canwest News Service
    Published: Monday, July 07 2008
    Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft is calling on the province's auditor general to investigate a blizzard of irregularities from the March 3 provincial vote, insisting it was the "worst-run election ever."

    In a letter to be sent today to Auditor General Fred Dunn, the Liberal leader requests a special investigation into the operations and conduct of Elections Alberta, the agency responsible for provincial elections.

    Based on first-hand accounts and hundreds of pages of supporting documents collected by the Liberals, Taft charges there was widespread chaos in the lead-up to the election, and at polling stations on voting day.

    The irregularities identified by the Liberals -- including incomplete voters lists, unacceptably long lineups and erroneous voter information cards -- mirror many of findings of a Calgary Herald report published last week.

    "The fair and proper conduct of elections is one of the very foundations of democracy," says Taft's letter to Dunn, who is responsible for auditing Elections Alberta.

    "It is crucial that public confidence in the election system not degenerate, and I believe there is a risk of that happening if these problems are not addressed."

    Election-day woes contributed to Alberta recording what's believed to be the lowest voter turnout ever for a provincial election in Canada: just 41.4 per cent.

    The Herald investigation found that hundreds of electors at some polling stations weren't on the voters list, despite living in the same residence for years and having been accounted for in previous elections.

    That meant voters had to be sworn in with a statutory declaration to get on the list of electors, which produced long lineups.

    Several polling stations reported that frustrated voters walked out without ever casting a ballot.

    Returning officers -- the people responsible for the election proceedings in each riding -- said there was "a lot of chaos" on March 3, due to the sloppy voters list, poorly trained election workers and voting cards directing people to the wrong polling station.

    The Liberals also have uncovered similar problems with a binder full of documents and supporting information that will be delivered to Dunn.

    Taft worries the troubles on election day are only feeding public cynicism and apathy about politics, and further eroding voter turnout.

    Chief Electoral Officer Lorne Gibson said in a recent interview that he was particularly troubled by stories of voters being inexplicably left off the list of electors, which caused many to walk out without casting ballots.

    Yet Gibson maintained the March election was "pretty typical" compared to most campaigns. "Things seemed to go fairly well on election day," he said. "I wasn't disappointed."

    Taft, however, said Sunday in an interview that he's extremely disappointed in Gibson and Elections Alberta, insisting the agency isn't properly addressing the voting problems and that an independent review by the auditor general is needed.

    "We need somebody from the outside to investigate," Taft said. "This is about protecting the very foundation of a functioning democracy.

    The Liberal party received reports of voters being directed to incorrect polling stations in constituencies across the province. One such account from a scrutineer said at least 100 people were directed to two or three separate polling stations on election day, in a frantic effort to cast a ballot.

    Some estimates from election workers suggested the voters list was only about 50-per-cent correct, and that hundreds of vexed voters left certain polling stations without marking an X.

    Further impediments to voting, the Liberals argue, included more than 7,000 students at the University of Lethbridge not having a mobile poll, despite repeated requests for one.


    Beyond front-line election day problems, the Grits also highlight that about half of the 83 returning officers appointed in Alberta had partisan connections to the Progressive Conservative party.

    Gibson, the chief electoral officer, noted the Tory government has ignored all of the 99 recommendations he made to the province nearly two years ago on how to improve the electoral system.

    One of his top recommendations was for the government to surrender its power to appoint returning officers to Elections Alberta, so that the agency can name the officials at its convenience.

    He insists that the government's late appointment of returning officers was responsible for many of the problems on election day.

    Premier Ed Stelmach has promised to review Gibson's report.

    By Blogger Chandler Kent, at 2:22 PM  

  • "I'm told that PC office staff spent months finding 83 acceptable candidates": from above.

    Ahem. No, nothing wrong with that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:54 PM  

  • O/T - last week I went to see Slumdog Millionaire, and sat literally, IMMEDIATELY right behind Dalton McGuinty. When the show was over and he was putting on his coat, I leaned up and said, "Wow life in those slums must really make running Ontario seem like a dream job!" He laughed and said, "Yes, I feel a lot more hopeful now." He was pretty nice and very friendly -- he said hello again on the stairs outside.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 4:46 PM  

  • Yap! Third world country status. No doubt about it.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:08 PM  

  • I get the feeling CG is real busy because his blog has gotten really boring. Liberal blogs in general have become pretty characterless, I know I'd need a lobotomy if I had to pretend the Count was in some substantive way an improvement on Harper, which really isn't much of a challenge....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:18 PM  

  • He's probably busy on something cool or more important. Looking forward to his return.

    By Anonymous jason bo green, at 7:47 PM  

  • Gordon Brown gave a rousing address to the American Congress about unity and joint purpose. Imagine what harper would have said if he were the guest speaker. Let us continue polluting! Let no one come between wealth and Alberta/Texas/Saudi. Support the military contractors! They could be your sons and daughters. Right!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:58 AM  

  • The AB oil economy benefits from a strong CAD. Ontario gets hammered as it loses manufacturing industries cross border and prefers a weaker CAD. No one likes revenue oscillations on the Provincial level given multi year investment time tables.

    It would seem to make sense to use eachothers business and mortgage portfolios as a natural hedge. I think there should be some incentive or revenue neutral incentive/penalty for banks in AB and southern ON to swap eachothers portfolios as a partial revenue stream hedge.

    By Anonymous Phillip Huggan, at 7:26 PM  

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