Alberta PM Vows Email Search Amid Questions About Prosecutor Interference

EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith requested an email search this weekend to determine whether her staff have been communicating with Crown prosecutors and interfering in cases involving the blockade of the Coutts border crossing, High.

Smith made the announcement on his Corus radio show on Saturday and also delivered a fifth version of meetings he has had with law enforcement officials processing COVID-19 cases.

In the email search, Smith said there are 34 employees in his office and 400 prosecutors to verify, but says he hopes to have results early next week to respond to a story reported Thursday by CBC News.

“The CBC has said that they do not have the emails. They didn’t provide us with names, so I asked our independent public service to do a review of the emails,” Smith told his radio listeners.

“We have an IT department that can look at all the emails that have been received by Crown prosecutors and evaluate them with all my staff and see if this email that the CBC is referencing exists.”

He added: “As soon as we receive the response, we will make sure the results are public.”

Smith reiterated that he has not spoken to Crown prosecutors, has not directed any staff to do so and is not aware of any staff doing so.

“It’s a serious accusation,” Smith said.

“If a member of staff had been in contact with a Crown prosecutor, obviously we would have to take appropriate action.”

Smith made the comment in response to the CBC News report, citing unnamed sources who said a staff member in his office sent a series of emails to Crown prosecutors last fall questioning and challenging their approach to cases.

CBC said it has not seen the emails in question.

RCMP brought charges against several people involved in the three-week lockdown in Coutts a year ago to protest COVID-19 restrictions. The charges range from mischief to conspiracy to commit murder.

Police claimed that a group at the protest was willing to use force against officers if the blockade was broken, describing the threat as “very serious.”

The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, in a statement, said: “Neither the deputy deputy minister of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service nor the Crown prosecutor involved in the Coutts files recall receiving emails from the prime minister’s office.

The opposition NDP has renewed its call for an independent inquiry, as the United Conservative Party prime minister has also made numerous conflicting statements about discussions she has had with senior justice officials about how they prosecute cases involving violations of the restrictions. health of COVID-19.

The NDP also says that Smith has already crossed the line and interfered in justice by saying in an interview before Christmas that he had asked prosecutors to consider COVID-19 cases no longer in the public interest.

“If Danielle Smith doesn’t know what her office staff are doing, she shouldn’t be prime minister,” NDP member Rakhi Pancholi said in a statement on Saturday.

“These allegations are extremely serious, and yet her story continues to change. Albertans know that the UCP cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.”

The Justice Department rejected an investigation, noting that Smith never spoke directly with Crown prosecutors.

Over the past month, Smith has given five versions of what he told Justice officials and who he told regarding the COVID cases.

On December 21 of last year, he told Rebel News that he would meet with prosecutors and urged them to consider that he believes the public no longer agrees with prosecuting such cases. He said that he also asked prosecutors to consider that the cases were failing in court.

On Jan. 12, in a scrum with reporters, Smith repeated that he was speaking to prosecutors, but failed to mention that he had asked them to consider factors unique to COVID-19 cases. Instead, he said he just reminded prosecutors of the general guidelines for pursuing any case: It has to be in the public interest and have a reasonable chance of conviction.

As concerns about his involvement grew, Smith issued a statement on January 13 saying he had not met with prosecutors but with Attorney General Tyler Shandro and the assistant attorney general to discuss “options” over the charges. pending cases. He did not elaborate on what those options were.

On his January 14 radio show, Smith did not mention that he was looking for options, but said the meeting with Shandro and the assistant attorney general was about reminding them that cases must be in the public interest and have reasonable interest. possibility of conviction.

On Saturday’s show, he said the meeting with Shandro and the assistant attorney general was more than a reminder of general prosecution guidelines, noting that it also involved Smith asking them to consider other factors unique to COVID-19 cases, including personnel changes and a revised legal landscape.

“We have several public health orders that no longer exist,” Smith said Saturday.

“The people who promulgated them are no longer around. We have lost a court case on this because a health order was found to have been improperly enacted.

“And it is in that context that I asked the Department of Justice (and) the attorney general: Is there a reasonable probability of conviction and is it in the public interest?”

Smith has attributed the confusion to word choice.

“My language may have been imprecise,” Smith said last week.

On Saturday, he said: “I probably used imprecise language.”

Smith has been highly critical of the mandatory COVID-19 masking, collection and vaccination rules, questioning whether they were necessary to combat the pandemic and calling them intolerable violations of personal liberties, contributing to job losses, social unrest and mental health problems.

He has called the unvaccinated against COVID-19 the most discriminated group he has seen in his life.

Shortly after becoming prime minister in October, she vowed to seek amnesties and pardons for COVID-19 rule-breakers, but recently said she won’t, noting prime ministers don’t have the authority.

She has said the charges were based on politics and therefore should be open to political solutions.

The prime minister admitted on a podcast last week that it’s “a bit frustrating” that politicians can’t intervene once charges are filed, but says that’s the way it should be.

If there is a review, it would be the second such investigation under the UCP government.

Last February, a third-party report from a retired judge concluded that then-UCP Justice Minister Kaycee Madu tried to interfere in the administration of justice when she called the Edmonton police chief to discuss a traffic ticket.

Madu was moved to a different portfolio under the prime minister at the time, Jason Kenney. Madu has since been promoted to deputy prime minister under Smith.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 21, 2023


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