EDMONTON, AB (December 4, 2012): The PC government voted to cover up illegal donations made to the PC party, after government MLAs unanimously rejected every single amendment proposed to Bill 7, the Election Accountability Amendment Act, by the Wildrose and the other opposition parties, Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said today.
The law will allow the PC government to keep documented evidence of illegal donations made to the PC party, like thousands of dollars for partisan purchases expensed by Lynn Redford to the Calgary Health Region, from ever being released to Albertans. The proposed amendment only allows the publication of illegal donations going back three years from the date the law is proclaimed sometime in the future, essentially hiding each and every illegal donation ever made to the PC Party. “Albertans have been demanding that all illegal donations solicited and received by the PC Party be made public to ensure the integrity of our electoral system” Saskiw said. “In what modern democracy are findings of illegal donations kept secret? It is clear that Premier Redford and her government are trying to cover-up past wrongdoings.” PC government MLAs also voted in lockstep against making it mandatory that the Chief Electoral Officer report any unpaid penalties and adding an onus on political parties to act with due diligence. “This government is clearly more interested in protecting its war-chest and members of the government family than in being open and accountable to Albertans and making sure that public dollars are only ever spent on public services, not political parties,” Saskiw said. “We expected that Premier Redford would want to strengthen elections financing laws after all of the scandals involving her party, but instead the government has doubled-down by leaving the gaping loopholes in place.” Amendments put forward by Saskiw and the Wildrose Opposition that were voted down include:
- Extend how far back the release of findings of wrongdoings goes from three to seven years
- Make mandatory (instead of optional) that findings of illegal donations are released
- Add mandatory reporting of whether illegal donations and associated penalties are paid back
Saskiw noted that the government’s notice to invoke closure on debate to make much needed improvements to Alberta’s electoral system demonstrate that the PCs are more interested in protecting their own political skin than in working to make positive changes to Alberta’s election laws. “This government undermines the democratic process every time they shut down questions, mindlessly and collectively vote against meaningful amendments put forward by opposition parties and ignore Albertans who voice major concerns with this government’s legislation or ethical track record,” Saskiw said. “The government has an opportunity today to do the right thing by adopting Wildrose amendments to ban corporate donations and close loopholes that allows individuals and corporations to skirt contribution limits.”