News | March 09, 2012

“A recipe for undue influence by corporations and rich individuals”

EDMONTON Representatives of Public Interest Alberta (PIA) described the release of information on donations to last year's Progressive Conservative leadership contest as a clear sign that the process was fundamentally flawed and reflects serious problems with the role of wealth, power and influence in our provincial political system.“The audited figures for five of the six candidates clearly show that the process was dominated by money from corporations and wealthy individuals. Some corporations and individuals made large contributions to all five candidates, and each of the five candidates depended on corporations and wealthy individuals to finance their campaigns, “ said Larry Booi, Board Chair of Public Interest Alberta. “This situation would simply not be tolerated in any other province, or at the federal level where donations are limited to $1100 and contributions by corporations and unions are illegal. This situation is clearly undemocratic, and is a recipe for undue influence by corporations and rich individuals,” said Booi.PIA’s Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon pointed out a number of specific areas of concern: “The president of a large energy firm gave $30,000 each to Mar, Redford and Horner, as well as $15,000 to Morton. An organization representing construction companies gave to all five candidates, for a total of $71,800. There is a contribution of $10,000 from a numbered corporation to Ms Redford’s campaign, which turns out to be owned by an individual who provides private health care for seniors. Ms. Redford even received a contribution for $5,000 from a Saskatchewan mineral corporation, which would have been illegal in a provincial election but was not prevented by the inadequate rules for the PC contest.”Booi stated that the dominant role of corporate and wealthy interests was clearly illustrated by other aspects of the audited statements. “Ms. Redford received a total of $1,237,322 in donations of more than $375 each, and only $36,859 in donations of less than $375; in fact, she received $350,000 from her top fourteen donors alone,” said Booi. “Donations to Mr. Mar reflected an even bigger role for corporate and wealthy donors. Mar received almost $2,000,000 in donations, with $570,500 coming from 28 corporations or individuals who each gave $15,000 or more.”The figures reveal many more problems, including clear violations of their own weak rules that limit maximum contributions to $30,000. Doug Horner received $35,000 from one individual, an additional $10,000 from his wife, and a further $20,000 contribution from their privately owned company, for a total contribution of $65,000. Alison Redford’s campaign also received $35,000 from a construction company (divided into two contributions of $30,000 and $5000). “The PC party will certainly need to explain how it is going to address these clear breaches of their own rules,” says Moore-Kilgannon.“In a genuine democracy, it is people’s votes rather than their wealth that counts. These figures clearly demonstrate the need to move ahead with comprehensive reform in the area of campaign and party financing, and PIA will be making this a priority in the coming election,” said Moore-Kilgannon.-30-Media ContactsBill Moore-Kilgannon (780) 993-3736Larry Booi (780) 433-2667