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Ousted UCP MLA Rehn blames clerical error for expenses confusion

A deep-dive into the expense claims of the Lesser Slave Lake MLA raised questions about where the MLA spent most of his time when the legislature was not in session, and their appropriateness.

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MLA Pat Rehn says it was all a clerical error.

A deep-dive into the expense claims of the Lesser Slave Lake MLA raised questions about where the MLA spent most of his time when the legislature was not in session, and their appropriateness.

The MLA billed for three meals a day in Edmonton for two full months – even when the legislature was not in session – despite representing a constituency in northern Alberta.

“It has come to my attention that an assistant of mine has made some errors in recording meal allowances, that I was not aware of. I apologize for this, and in the future I will make sure that I personally review all expense claims before they are submitted to the province to make sure that they are correct,” said Rehn in a Monday Facebook page entry.

” I WILL NOT be claiming any expense claims for meals in Edmonton for the entire year of 2021 as a sign of my sincere regret for this.

“I can assure my constituents and all Albertans that I try to keep public expenditures that are under my control as low as possible. In the fiscal year of 2019-2020, I had a budget of $153,222.05. At the end of the year in March 2020, I still had $41,686.22 remaining which I didn’t spend. This $41,686.22 went back to the Province to be used in other needed areas.”

On January 15, Premier Jason Kenney unilaterally expelled Rehn from the UCP Caucus saying he “has made no meaningful effort to be more present in his constituency or to properly represent his hard-working constituents” and “ignored” calls to be more present in Slave Lake.

The curious reason given made no mention of the expense issue, which had come into the hands of the Western Standard and other Alberta media outlets.

Rehn has said he maintains a home in the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.

Despite this, he claimed $1,245.50 in Edmonton per diems for every day – including weekends – for every day in April, despite the the legislature sitting for just 10 days that month.

Most rural MLAs return their homes on weekends, and per diems are only to be claimed when on business.

The Western Standard has repeatedly attempted to contact Rehn for comment or explanation. As of press time, no response has been received.

Rehn also claimed $1,930 every month for his housing allowance in Edmonton, something MLAs from outside the capital region are allowed in order to maintain a residence. Alternatively, MLAs may expense stays at a hotel.

While claiming a monthly housing allowance is usual for most MLAs, it is intended for the maintenance of a secondary Edmonton residence, and not a primary residence.

The frequency of per diem meal claims on days when the legislature is not sitting raises questions about where Rehn’s actual primary residence was.

The Slave Lake Town Council alleged in a public letter that Rehn did not reside in or near the constituency, and that he spent more of his time outside of the legislature in Texas.

The legislature does not release the location of MLA primary residencies for privacy reasons.

In his May, Rehn claimed every day for meals in Edmonton except on May 1, when he just claimed only breakfast, and May 3, claiming dinner.

Every other day that month, the MLA claimed breakfast, lunch and dinner in Edmonton, billing a total of $1,193.35. He also claimed the $1,930 non-resident housing benefit. The legislature only sat for 10 days in May.

In June, Rehn appeared to make three weekend trips outside Edmonton. The legislature sat for 16 days that month, with Rehn claiming full per diems for 23 full days in Edmonton.

The house rose for the summer break on July 23, after sitting for 12 days. But Rehn claimed full Edmonton meal allowed from July 24-31, even though business had wrapped up in the capital.

The only day in July Rehn didn’t claim full per diems Edmonton was on July 18, where he billed $29.95 for lunch in Wabasca.

In the wake of the Snowbird Scandal, the mayor and entire council of Slave Lake called on their MLA to resign in an open letter. The council alleges a litany of problems they have had with him.

The town, with a population of 6,500, 255 km northeast of Edmonton, made public a laundry list of complaints against Rehn, including missed meetings and failure to represent the area for economic development.

They claim Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, doesn’t even live in Alberta (or Canada), saying he resides in Texas.

“When Covid-19 began and the Canadian government said Canadians need to get home, you were in the United States. Since that time, you have made multiple trips abroad. In fact, right now, as our businesses suffer and many of our people aren’t working, you still aren’t here.,” said the letter signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and six other councilors.

In fact, the council claims the UCP government was aware of Rehn’s performance and have asked other MLAs to pick up his work.

“We have been told that your government has internally expressed its displeasure at your performance and have arranged for neighbouring MLA’s to check in to help make sure our Region is represented,” the letter reads.

“We seem to be making little to no progress in our Region in advocating for items that are a provincial responsibility. One of the factors that we believe is contributing heavily to this is the lack of engagement from you as our MLA.”

Pat Rehn’s public expense disclosure can be found on the Alberta Legislature’s website.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Editor of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Third wall built around GraceLife Church as protesters gather

A large protest, and possible outdoor service, are expected at the site Sunday morning.

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Authorities have put a third fence around the GraceLife Church hoping to keep out crowds expected to gather Sunday morning.

AHS, with the help of RCMP, raided the church, in Spruce Grove, Wednesday morning erecting the initial barricades. The third level of defence was put up Saturday.

On Sunday morning, about 100 people gathered at the furthest barricade which was manned by more than as dozen police officers.

Protesters sang songs and hymns and yelled at the police.

One woman asked for her son to be allowed to go into the church to use the washroom. She was refused and launched a torrent of abuse against the police.

The church, under Pastor James Coates, had repeatedly violated COVID-19 laws by holding packed services with hundreds of people.

Coates turned himself into the RCMP and served more than a month in jail before being released with a $1,500 fine and a tongue-lashing from the judge.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity. Shandro has denied the story.

A large protest, and possible outdoor service, are expected at the site Sunday morning.

This story will be updated as the Sunday events happen.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Jivraj admits planting fake stories with Press Progress, CBC

Under oath, Jivraj admitted he was a long-time informant for Press Progress, the de facto media arm of the NDP.

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Western Standard News editor Dave Naylor has spent two weeks investigating the story of Caylan Ford. Ford seemed a rising political star – intelligent, photogenic and a working mother. She was recruited by Jason Kenney to run provincial for the UCP.

Ford seemed to be on the path to stardom when she was shot down in flames by rumours and planted news stories in a NDP-linked news site.

Ford blames one man for her downfall – Kiram Javrij. 

Over the next week, Naylor will tell their story backed with court documentation and interviews.

Karim Jivraj, under testimony during a deposition, detailed just how complex his undercover harassment of UCP candidate Caylan Ford, and other women was.

Under withering questioning by Ford’s Lawyer, R.E. Harrison, Javrij admitted to planting fake stories with the NDP-linked Press Progress and the CBC.

In October 2018, Jivraj wrote a letter accusing Ford of committing “residency fraud” and claimed she was ineligible to stand as a candidate for election in the riding of Calgary Mountainview.

“He asked nine members of my constituency association board to sign the letter, but did not sign it himself,” said Ford in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.

“Then he sent it to the media, and invited journalists to report on his allegations. Press Progress did.”

The following is a portion of the Q and A between Harrison and Jivraj.

Harrison: You say that you helped author the letter?
A: Yes.

Harrison then ask Jivraj who else on the board helped author the letter to then UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington.

Q: Now, after authoring the letter, you circulated it to the other board directors to seek their signatures?

A: Yes. I — I and others circulated it.

Read Javrij’s letter to the Mountainview board

Harrison then got Jivraj to admit he didn’t sign the letter he letter. Jivraj then detailed how he was the one who sent the letter to the NDP-linked news website, Press Progress.

Q: The October 13, 2018, article from Press Progress is entitled “UCP Constituency Association Accuses Jason Kenney’s Handpicked ‘Parachute Candidate’ of Breaking Party Rules.” Do you see that.

A: Yeah.

Q: Do you recognize this article?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, do you know who sent the October 1, 2018, letter to Press Progress?

A: I believe I did.

In November 2018, Jivraj purchased Google attack ads on searches of Ford’s name. These ads included a fabricated quotation, which Jivraj attributed to Ford. Harrison asked Jivraj who bought them.

A: I’m not sure if “purchase” is the right word. I received a free $50 budget on Google Ads, and so that was used for this. So there was no monetary investment.”

Q: Okay. So these ads were posted by you?

A: Yes.

In November 2018, Jivraj used a pseudonymous email account to send defamatory statements about Ford to 1,300 of her electors. The emails included another fabricated quotation which he attributed to Ford.

Q: You see the last attack ad has a quote: “My family has lived in southwest Calgary for generations. I could never live in north Calgary. Anywhere above the Bow is basically a suburb.” Do you see that quotation?

A: Yes

Q: Did you create that quotation?

A: I don’t believe so.

Q: Where did you get that quotation from?

A: I’m not sure. I think Ms. Ford may have said something along those lines when I was looking for a place in Calgary.

Q: You’re aware that Ms. Ford has lived in the neighbourhood of Sunnyside?

A: I became aware of that afterward.

Q: And why did these attack — why did these ads link to Press Progress?

A : That’s a good question. I don’t know.

Under oath, Jivraj admitted he was a long-time informant for Press Progress, the de facto media arm for the NDP.

Q: Did you email or call PressProgress to disclose this conversation?

A: I can’t recall. I don’t — I can’t recall if I reached out directly to Press Progress. I think the — what initiated the cycle of events was my meeting, my physical meeting at (Calgary coffee shop) Vendome.

Q: What I want to know is whether you phoned Press Progress to provide them with the contents of the conversation or provide them information

A: I can’t recall.

Q: Why did Press Progress call you out of the blue as you’ve insinuated.

Jivraj admits he has been in contact with Press Progress previously to discuss provincial and federal politics.

Q: OK, How many times would you have spoken with Press Progress previously to their phone call to you?

A: Again, I don’t want to guess, but several, several times.

Jivraj admits he has been in contact with Press progress since 2015. Ford herself then jumps into the questioning, asking Jivraj about his dealings with the CBC.

CBC Logo (photo credit CBC)

Ford: Did you disclose additional private messages between yourself and me to the CBC?

A: Yes

Ford: Have you created any other pseudonymous Twitter accounts?

A: Yeah. In my various political activities, yes, I’ve created many.

Ford is suing Jivraj, Press Progress and several media outlets for a total of $7 million.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

The saga of Karim Jivraj’s campaign against Ford and other conservative women is just too incredible to be told in a single feature article.

That’s why the Western Standard decided to break it down into a series, which will dive into several of the actions taken by Jivraj. It’s a story we did not believe until we obtained the evidence.

COMING NEXT: Tap on back leads to assault allegations from Rivraj against Ford

PREVIOUSLY: 
How a Conservative candidate worked with the NDP to bring down star UCP candidate
Tory candidate admits using a fake Twitter account to spread false sexual rumours
Jivraj admits to undercover online campaigns against women

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EXCLUSIVE: UCP MLA says Shandro approved barricading GraceLife Church

But a spokesman for Shandro denied any involvement by the minister.

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Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity.

RCMP and Alberta Health Services conducted a Wednesday dawn raid on the church in Spruce Grove, Alberta after it repeatedly refused to comply to lockdown and capacity orders from the government.

“Shandro directly signed off on the raid,” said the MLA.

The MLA said the public backlash against the raid has rocked the government, and they are considering removing the wall before an expected large service is held there Sunday.

But a spokesman for Shandro denied any involvement by the minister.

“Minister Shandro did not direct or sign off this action. The law gives AHS independent authority to carry out such an action. The Minister is not required to sign off on enforcement activity such as seen at GraceLife, nor did he sign off. “

The move against the church came the day after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney threw the province back into a COVID-19 lockdown for the third time, discarding the policy of phased reopening based on measurable targets.

The move infuriated even members of his own caucus, with 17 UCP MLAs signing a public letter denouncing Kenney.

Another UCP MLA told the Western Standard they are “100% certain” Kenney will be the subject of an early party leadership review.

“Caucus is in total chaos,” said the MLA, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A new Angus Reid poll this week showed a whopping 75% of Albertans oppose Kenney’s handling of the pandemic, including those that believe he has gone too far in restrictions, and those who believe that he hasn’t gone far enough.

Former federal Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day the Alberta government for barricading the GraceLife Church, saying it would bring “gleeful howls” from dictators around the world.

The church’s pastor, James Coates recently spent 35 days in the Edmonton Remand Centre after refused to agree to stop preaching as a condition of his bail.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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