The Government of Alberta has announced they will introduce legislation to regulate Political Action Committees (PACs), or so-called “dark money,” in Alberta’s political system. Public Interest Alberta welcomes the changes as a necessary and important contribution to further strengthening democracy in the province.
“The recent use of Political Action Committees and related fundraising by those seeking to influence and control political parties has clearly been undermining Alberta’s democracy,” says Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Recent party leadership races have shown that groups have found ways to circumvent the intent of existing campaign and party finance legislation, so major changes are required to deal with the problems and make our electoral system more fair and democratic.”
The government previously introduced legislation to ban corporations and unions from contributing to political parties and strengthened other party and campaign financing rules by introducing campaign spending limits, lowering contribution limits, and regulating third party advertising. The new legislation, however, did not fully remove big money from partisan activities, focusing only on party membership sales, fundraising, and collection of voter information.
“Large corporations, through PACs, have been legally violating the principles of previous legislation that aimed to remove big money from partisan politics,” added French. “Unfortunately, this new legislation seems to give the wealthy and powerful license to continue to undermine democracy in many ways, including through partisan political advertising. Corporate and union contributions to PACs must be banned.”
French expressed hope that more will be done in the next sitting of the legislature.
“The government will have another opportunity in the spring to close these loopholes and further restrict big money’s influence on partisan politics,” said French. “They must also address the need to further lower contribution limits to parties and to apply provincial campaign finance rules to the municipal level. For now, they have taken steps in the right direction, but much more must be done.”
Executive Director, Public Interest Alberta