The Alberta government said it is updating justice legislation to clarify definitions, increase access to justice and ensure legal provisions are current. “If passed, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2023 will make it easier for Albertans to access important services and ensure our legislation is up to date,” said Alberta Justice Minister Mickey Amery in a Thursday press release. If passed, the Alberta government said the Justice Statutes Amendment Act would include updates to the Conflicts of Interest Act, Trustee Act, Estate Administration Act, Jury Act, Justice of the Peace Act, and Court of King’s Bench Act. Following a recommendation from Alberta’s ethics commissioner, it said amendments to the Conflict of Interest Act would suspend investigations by the ethics commissioner during the period leading up to an election, which would keep unproven allegations from influencing the democratic process. Amendments would move dollar limits and rules for elected officials receiving gifts into regulation. This would provide flexibility to adjust the limits to reflect current costs.The Office of the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta found Premier Danielle Smith contravened the Conflicts of Interest Act in her interaction with Alberta Justice in relation to the criminal charges against Street Church pastor Artur Pawlowski in May. READ MORE: Ethics Commissioner finds Smith contravened the conflicts of interest act in her dealings with PawlowskiThe allegations were Smith sought to influence the prosecution of Pawlowski, who was facing charges relating to the Coutts Border Blockade. But Smith was cleared of allegations made by the CBC and Alberta NDP. She and her office had contacted the Crown attorney about the case.The Alberta government went on to say the amendment to the Trustee Act would clarify the definition of incapacitated person. It added the amendments to the Estate Administration Act would make it easier to understand the requirements of Albertans acting as personal representatives in the administration of estates of deceased people. The amendment to the Jury Act would replace a reference to summary trial with streamlined trial. Effective January 1, streamlined trials would replace the seldom used summary trial process for civil and family matters in the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta. A streamlined trial differs from other forms of trial by relying on written rather than oral evidence, allowing court resources to be used better, free up court time and increase Albertans’ access to justice.Amendments to the Justice of the Peace Act would increase access to justice for Albertans by expanding the maximum number of terms a justice of the peace can serve, allowing time for additional permanent appointments to be made.Amendments to the Court of King’s Bench Act would increase the number of judges by six, which reflects the current size of the court based on increases made by orders in council since 2021.Amery followed up by saying the Justice Statutes Amendment Act indicates the Alberta government is taking the ethics commissioner's recommendations seriously. "I think the report that came out provided good guidance to the Legislative Assembly and this government, and we're certainly happy to incorporate the changes made by the ethics commissioner on these recommendations into legislation," said Amery. "When it comes to talking about the reasons for it, I think the ethics commissioner outlined some of the important reasons and that is putting that office in a difficult position based on allegations of that time." He admitted the Office of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta does not want to be put in these situations. During elections, he said voters should be able to make decisions without undue influence.