Alberta RCMP concludes investigations surrounding the 2017 UCP Leadership Vote

March 8, 2024
Edmonton, Alberta

News release

In July 2017, the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservative Party merged to form the United Conservative Party (UCP). A UCP leadership contest followed, which was an internal UCP process with no oversight from Elections Alberta, except as it related to the Alberta Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act (EFCDA).

On Oct. 4, 2017, Jeff Callaway dropped out of the race and publicly endorsed Jason Kenney. On Oct. 28, 2017, Kenney was officially elected as the new UCP leader. Allegations of wrongdoing surfaced after the leadership contest. In February 2019, a complaint was received by the Alberta RCMP in relation to these allegations, which resulted in the RCMP opening an investigation into two separate allegations.

Allegation #1 – Jeff Callaway candidacy

One allegation was that Callaway entered the contest solely to attack another candidate, always with the intention of pulling out of the leadership race and endorsing a different candidate prior to the vote. Given the allegation that this candidate had portrayed himself as a legitimate candidate and, as a result, was able to solicit money from individuals who believed he was a legitimate candidate, fraud contrary to section 380 of the Criminal Code, was identified as the appropriate offence to be investigated:

  • Investigators reviewed the candidate's campaign debates and political advertisements used during the campaign. A review of the campaign's financial records showed that, as a result, it was able to generate approximately $95,000 in financial contributions. Elections Alberta investigated Callaway's campaign finances under the Alberta Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. The results of Elections Alberta's investigation are posted on their website.
  • Alberta RCMP Investigators conducted more than 170 interviews with contributors and campaign staff, and examined over 25,000 related emails.

Outcome #1: The investigation did not uncover evidence to establish that Callaway, or any other person, committed a criminal offence.

Allegation #2 – Voter Fraud

In order to vote, a UCP member needed to register and receive a Personal Identification Number (PIN), either by phone call, email, or text message. Once the PIN was received, the member could then cast a vote by phone or by using a proprietary electronic voting platform on the internet.

The allegations were that emails were created in order to receive PINs and vote on peoples' behalf without their consent or knowledge. Identity Fraud contrary to section 403 of the Criminal Code was identified as the appropriate offence to be investigated under the circumstances:

  • The online platform used by the UCP to hold the leadership contest was identified and the RCMP obtained the voter database through a legal process, which contained data for more than 60,000 voters.
  • The RCMP analysed the data and identified several suspicious cross-sections of voters where multiple votes were cast from the same phone number, or originated from the same IP address. Similar to an in-person ballot, the data did not show which candidate was voted for, only that a vote had been cast using that unique identifier.
  • The RCMP generated a list of these "suspicious votes," conducted interviews with the more than 1,200 individuals and examined their UCP membership and registration forms.
  • To be clear, the number of potential votes at issue, which after investigation was less than 200, would not have impacted the leadership contest given that Jason Kenney won with 36,625 votes (61%), whereas Brian Jean received 18,336 votes (31%), followed by Doug Schweitzer with 4,273 votes (7%).
  • The RCMP investigation did not find evidence that any leadership candidate encouraged their volunteers to engage in identity fraud.
  • The service provider for the online voting platform used by the UCP was not compromised, and worked exactly as specified.

This high-profile investigation was extremely complex, and time consuming due to several factors:

  • The sheer volume of data being analysed and investigated took a significant amount of time. Further, a portion of this data required that judicial authorizations be obtained both domestically and outside of Canada.
  • The fact that the complaint was not received until 2019 impacted many witnesses' recollections of the event. The 2017 UCP Leadership Contest occurred at the same time as other internal party votes. As a result, some witnesses were unclear about which process the RCMP were investigating.
  • Even for cases that appear to be voter fraud, there can be innocent explanations. For example, it wasn't illegal for one phone number or email to receive many PINs. It was also not illegal for many votes to be cast from the same IP address or phone number. In certain families living under the same roof, this was common. We also saw the same pattern in office buildings and at voting kiosks where many people voted from the same IP.

Outcome #2: While the Alberta RCMP determined that there were suspected instances of potential identity fraud, there was insufficient evidence to charge any suspect, again there was no evidence that any leadership candidate orchestrated these relatively rare instances.

The decision on whether or not to lay a charge in Alberta rests with the police. However, throughout this investigation, the RCMP did seek advice from Crown, which began in Alberta, but was later referred to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General who assigned Crown Prosecutors.

These Crown Prosecutors provided valuable and timely advice throughout our investigation and their assistance was greatly appreciated

It should be noted that these allegations of possible voter fraud occurred during an internal political party voting process, and in no way represents any possible fraud or shortcomings in our general provincial and federal elections.

Nothing in the investigation suggested that the UCP failed to take reasonable steps to manage their internal process. We hope that the information shared today will further reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring in the future for any political party.

The investigators received cooperation from the UCP and the leadership candidates which

assisted in moving the investigation forward.

"We would like to highlight that in investigating allegations of criminality, the thoroughness and completeness of the investigation is the standard that should be assessed and that the lack of criminal charges should not be the test of a successful investigation," said Superintendent Rick Jané of the Alberta RCMP. "In this case, experienced criminal investigators tested these allegations. In the end, Albertans can be confident that a thorough investigation, independent of government, was conducted."


Contact information

Alberta RCMP Media Relations

Key Statistics


  • 65 Investigators
    • 5 core investigators
    • 60 additional investigators seconded for varying lengths of time
    • 10 public service employees assisted in various capacities


  • 1,200 voter canvass interviews
  • 563 structured interviews
    • 226 hours of audio
    • Conducted by two interviewers
    • Totaling 420 person-hours worked


  • Translation was required for Arabic, South Asian and Chinese languages
  • Investigators were sourced from "K" Div Federal Policing; Auto-theft; Digital Forensic Services Units; as well as Airdrie, Canmore, Red Deer, Thorsby, High River, and Maskwacis RCMP Detachments to fulfill this need.


  • $460,877 in overtime and travel expenses
    • $356,288 in overtime
    • $104,589 in travel expenses, with $38,647 in out-of-province expenses


  • 12 out of province trips (BC, Ontario, Nova Scotia) involving 22 members
  • There was no international travel

(warrants, sealing orders, production orders, information to obtain, administration, mutual legal assistance requests)

  • 7,484 PDF documents (totaling 69,922 pages)
  • 20,625 digital files (totaling 54 GB of data)
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