On Friday it was announced a decision on Stephen Mandel’s five-year election ban was reserved to next week.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel will have to wait a little longer to find out if he can run in the upcoming provincial election.Mandel filed a court application for a judicial review after he was issued a five-year election ban for failing to file his nomination contest financial statements on time.After a two-hour case in a standing-room only Edmonton courtroom Friday afternoon, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Gaylene Kendell ruled to reserve the decision, expected by the end of next week.The former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative Health Minister didn’t attend the court proceedings but said outside the courthouse he is confident in the case his legal team presented.“We believe we have a very strong case and the decision will go our way, but you can’t say any more than that because it’s now in the hands of the court,” Mandel said.The ban spurred from Mandel failing to file his Edmonton-McClung nomination campaign expenses within the four-month window outlined in legislation that the NDP brought into effect in 2016.Elections Alberta sent Mandel a letter in July 2018 highlighting a Sept. 12 deadline, with an additional 10-day grace period, to file his expenses for contest. Elections Alberta says Mandel’s paperwork was filed Sept. 27. Mandel won the riding nomination uncontested and without spending any money.Failing to file on time automatically results in a $500 fee. But more serious penalties include a five-year ban for filing late and an eight-year ban if no paperwork is filed at all.Mandel’s lawyer Debra Curcio Lister argued the court should grant a deadline extension, which they have the means to do, because of several “mitigating reasons.”Chief financial officer Brian Heidecker was sick throughout the deadline period, said Curcio Lister, making him unable to perform these financial requirements.Not granting the extension would put the Alberta Party in a state of flux with the loss of their leader so close to the election and Curcio Lister argued there “should be some sympathy giving the timing of all this.”The party “acted in good faith” throughout the entire process with no money spent, said Curcio Lister, also taking exception to the fact that Mandel was only notified of the consequences Jan. 30.But Paula Hale, counsel for Elections Alberta chief electoral officer Glen Resler, said there is no requirement to provide notice at all.The respondents didn’t take a position on the remedy sought by Mandel’s lawyers, but defended the bans as a result of legislation and the electoral officer had “zero discretion.”Seven other Alberta Party prospective candidates listed as ineligible to run on the Elections Alberta website and facing bans are also individually taking their cases to court.One of them, Moe Rahall who was endorsed in the riding of Edmonton-Castle Downs, won his case Friday morning under a different judge.Rahall said his ban was issued in different circumstances to Mandel as he did file within the nomination period, but the paperwork was incomplete.“There was some stuff that was missing,” Rahall said. “There was just a bit of miscommunication and we got relieved and I’m looking forward to going back into it.”-With files from Clare Clancy firstname.lastname@example.org/dustin_cook3