Media releases | April 05, 2011

EDMONTON—The Progressive Conservative Party's announcement on contribution limits and disclosure levels in their leadership campaign shows they recognize that we need new rules governing campaign finance. However, their new regulations largely fail to make the necessary changes and ignore crucial issues."While it is good to see some action, this move represents not even baby steps, but crawling toward democracy," said Larry Booi, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta, as well as chair of their Democracy Task Force. "We are moving from the complete absence of rules for leadership contests to simply having some very bad rules for only one party.""The limit of $30,000 in contributions is a clear indication that the Tories just don't get it. At that level, wealthy Albertans will clearly have an unreasonable influence in the process. The current federal level, a limit of $1100 per individual, is much more democratic," continued Booi. "Further, it still allows contributions by corporations and unions, which are not allowed at the federal level.""The policy fails to address the critical issue of spending limits. A candidate could still spend any amount, with the clear possibility of an unlimited numbers of rich Albertans giving $30,000," states Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. "Clearly, this allows money rather than votes to play the dominant role in this contest.""The whole process is left as voluntary. The party could change it at any time, and the other parties are still free to conduct their leadership campaigns without rules to protect the public interest," said Booi. "We need legislation similar to that in effect at the federal level, which requires all political parties to follow rules that protect democracy and the public interest. Political parties are not private clubs. They are vital aspects of our political system, and as such they need to operate in a reasonable legal framework to strengthen our democratic system."Public Interest Alberta has developed a comprehensive proposal for the reform of party and campaign financing. A draft proposal was considered at PIA's annual advocacy conference last weekend, and PIA will be releasing the policy proposals shortly.-30-Media contacts:
Larry Booi, Chairperson of Public Interest Alberta and Democracy Task Force Chair, (780) 433-2667 or (780) 974-7400 (cell)
Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, (780) 993-3736

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