Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Alberta’s Prime Minister Jason Kenney’s office has chosen Edmonton’s integrity commissioner to review its HR policies for staff following serious allegations of fraud in the Alberta Legislature.

A lawsuit filed by a former Kenyan government chief of staff alleges sexual harassment and excessive drinking in the Legislative Assembly building last fall, saying complaints about the behavior were not properly addressed despite being raised to several senior staff in the Prime Minister’s Office .

Ariella Kimmel, the plaintiff, also claims she was fired in February in retaliation for persistently raising these issues.

Kenney’s office promised an independent review of its HR policies for political staff after CBC News first reported the allegations last week. Kenney himself is not mentioned in the trial. None of the charges have been proven in court.

On Tuesday, an email from Kenney’s office informed staff in the Legislative Assembly that Jamie Pytel has been detained to carry out the review. The email was received by CBC News.

Kenney’s office promised an independent review of its HR policies and said Tuesday that Edmonton’s integrity commissioner Jamie Pytel has been hired to carry out the review. (Alberta Cancer Foundation)

Pytel currently serves as City of Edmonton’s Integrity Commissioner and is a co-founder of Kingsgate Legal, specializing in workplace culture, harassment, ethics, whistleblower policy and HR management.

“Ms. Pytel’s review will begin immediately and will be completely independent. Should new policies be adopted as a result of Ms. Pytel’s review, they will be made public,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

They did not say when Pytel’s results are expected to be delivered. CBC News has also contacted Pytel for a comment.

“This suggests that they are certainly taking steps that are appropriate and proportionate,” said Lisa Young, a professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

“Of course, it’s one thing to take action and get advice. To act on it is another thing, so it’s still unknown what kind of recommendations will be put in place and what kind of action to take.”

Dreeshen talks about drinking allegations

In addition to the allegations of sexual harassment, the trial included allegations of excessive alcohol consumption by ministers and law enforcement officials.

Kimmel highlighted Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen for allegedly being heavily intoxicated in October 2020 and shouted at her so aggressively that a spectator intervened. The two had previously been romantically involved.

Dreeshen addressed these allegations for the first time Monday.

Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshen, seen here in March 2020, on Monday addressed allegations of excessive drinking by ministers and staff in legislative offices. (Will Wang / CBC)

“It’s been long, hard days in the Legislature, and I think it’s something everyone has had to deal with,” he said, adding that he does not have an alcohol problem.

“There’s a social aspect to politics where I think people sit down and talk about politics over a drink. I think it’s something that’s happened for a long time, obviously I have not invented it. “

Young says it is unlikely the prime minister will deal with any of the allegations in a comprehensive manner because the trial against his office is in the courts.

“I think if further public allegations emerge, then it will put the government in an increasingly difficult place,” she said.

Elise von Scheel is CBC Calgary’s political reporter. If you have a tip or information, you can contact her at or on Twitter at @elisevonscheel.

By Victor

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