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No charges as RCMP conclude probe into Alberta’s 2017 UCP leadership race

No charges will be laid following a long and complex Alberta RCMP investigation into allegations of voter fraud and identity theft in the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership race won by Jason Kenney.

RCMP announced the conclusion of their investigation at a news conference in Edmonton Friday following a closed-door technical briefing with reporters.

Since 2019, RCMP had been investigating allegations of fraud and identity theft in the contest that Kenney won in October 2017 before he became Alberta’s premier.

RCMP characterized the investigation Friday as high-profile and extremely complex. 

The investigation looked into two allegations: that candidate Jeff Callaway entered the leadership contest solely to attack another candidate, always with the intention of pulling out and endorsing a different candidate before the vote, and that there were instances of identity fraud in the voting process.

Kenney’s leadership win was tainted by allegations his campaign ran Callaway as a so-called “kamikaze” candidate to attack and undermine Kenney’s main rival, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. Kenney was interviewed in February 2022 by the RCMP about the allegations.

Callaway dropped out of the race before the vote and endorsed Kenney. Both men have denied their campaigns colluded to undermine Jean.

The investigation did not uncover evidence to establish that Callaway or any other person committed a criminal offence, RCMP said Friday.

Voter fraud allegations 

The 2017 UCP leadership race also faced allegations of attempted voter fraud using mail-in ballots.

The allegations were that emails were created in order to receive PINs and vote on peoples’ behalf without their consent. 

RCMP investigators examined the voter database used by the UCP and identified a list of “suspicious votes,” police said Friday. 

Police said the number of potential votes at issue, which after investigation was less than 200, were not enough to sway the results of the leadership race.

The investigation did not find evidence that any leadership candidate encouraged their volunteers to engage in identity fraud, RCMP said.

“While RCMP determined that there suspected instances of potential identity fraud, there was insufficient evidence to charge any suspect and there was no evidence that any leadership candidate orchestrated these “relatively rare instances,” RCMP said in Friday’s news release.

“Nothing in the investigation suggest that the UCP failed to take reasonable steps to manage their internal process.”

During Friday’s news conference, Supt. Rick Jané of the Alberta RCMP said the years-long investigation was thorough and it’s unlikely the investigation will be reopened.

RCMP said the case involved more than 65 investigators, around 1,200 interviews with voters, 12 out-of-province trips by investigators and  $460,877 paid in overtime and travel expenses.

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