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PCs vote to keep big corporate donors, keep Katz loophole open

EDMONTON, AB (December 5, 2012): The PC government has once again voted down proposed Wildrose elections laws reforms that would have banned corporate political contributions, prohibited failed municipal candidates from pocketing campaign surpluses and closed the so-called Katz loophole that allows individuals to donate on another’s behalf. 

In another late night sitting of the Legislature yesterday, PC MLAs once again used their majority to defeat three key amendments to Bill 7, the Elections Accountability Amendment Act. Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith says the amendments would have strengthened accountability and transparency in Alberta’s electoral system.  “It’s a constant disappointment to see 61 MLAs stand up and vote against good ideas simply because another party came up with them,” Smith said. “Through the hard work of our critics and MLAs, we believe we put forward solid ideas that Albertans want to see implemented in order to improve our electoral system. It’s sad and, frankly, rather bizarre that not a single PC MLA voted in favour of any of them.”  Bill 7 will pass third reading today without some of the major reforms Albertans wanted to see included, namely: 

  • Banning corporate donations to political parties. (The PCs received 78% of their 2012 campaign contributions from corporations.)
  • Prohibiting unsuccessful municipal election candidates from keeping any surplus campaign funds they received (Wildrose worked with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s office to craft this amendment.)
  • Closing the loophole that allows one person to donate several times using the names of other people (There is an allegation that the PCs accepted a $430,000 cheque, which would be far in excess of the current contribution limits.)
  • Increasing proposed administrative penalties from $10,000 to $25,000. 

Previously, the PCs also voted down Wildrose amendments that would have made it mandatory for the Chief Electoral Officer to disclose the results of his investigations and would have extended the retroactive release of findings of wrongdoing from three to seven years . The CEO is currently investigating 81 cases of alleged illegal donations, the vast majority of which went to the PC party.  “We have missed a tremendous opportunity to truly improve our elections laws,” Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw said. “Throughout this debate, the PCs have been far more interested in keeping elections laws tilted in their favour rather than leveling the playing field and strengthening transparency and accountability.”