Media releases | June 30, 2009

EDMONTON—On the day before Canada Day, PIA is releasing a new report revealing that Alberta has the least democratic political financing laws in Canada, and calling for broad reforms based on effective practices in other parts of Canada.

Larry Booi, the chairperson of Public Interest Alberta and chair of PIA’s Democracy Task Force , stated, “It is important to remember the words of Canada’s Supreme Court in a 2004 decision (Harper v. Canada) on a key principle related to these issues: ‘Elections are fair and equitable only if…election discourse is not dominated by those with access to greater financial resources.’”

Booi continues, “If the government is at all serious about wanting to improve the democratic process in Alberta, it should adopt the realistic and effective practices that are clearly evident elsewhere in our country.”The main highlights of the report show how far behind Alberta is when it comes to campaign and party financing rules:Alberta is one of the only Canadian jurisdictions that place no limit on campaign spending by party or candidates during an election.

  • In terms of contributions limits, Alberta’s limits of $15,000 (or $30,000 in an election year) are double those of the next least restrictive province.
  • Alberta only requires disclosure for contributions above $375; other Canadian jurisdictions’ thresholds for public disclosure range from $50 to $250.
  • Canada, Manitoba and Quebec ban corporate and union contributions, while Alberta has no policy on who can contribute.
  • In terms of public financing, unlike a number of other provinces and the federal government, Alberta has no cash allowances for parties, nor does it provide any reimbursement of election expenses.
  • In addition, our province has no financial rules for party nomination and leadership races.

“It’s time for the Alberta government to take a bold step and become a leader in improving our campaign and party finance laws, rather than having private members take baby steps about rules for municipalities (Bill 203) and third party spending (Bill 205),” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.

“PIA’s advocacy campaign will engage Albertans across the province and the political spectrum to build a network of people calling for More Democracy in Alberta, beginning with the crucial area of campaign and party finance reform.”

To see the full report, including proposed new policies and the advocacy campaign, please go to www.pialberta.org

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