EDMONTON, AB (November 26, 2012): Today, the Wildrose Official Opposition called on the PC government to adopt a more aggressive electoral reform agenda by lowering limits on individual political contributions and banning political contributions from corporations and unions.
The PCs have tabled Bill 7 – the Elections Accountability Amendment Act – to make some changes to Alberta elections laws but Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said it doesn’t go far enough and more major reforms are needed. She said recent examples of excessive corporate donations have shaken the public’s confidence in the electoral process and changes must be made to limit the influence of big business and big labour. “We’ve heard loud and clear from Albertans. They want to know that elections and governments aren’t for sale to corporate and union interests,” Smith said. “Elections should belong to voters, not corporations and unions with deep pockets. That’s why we’re putting forward these important changes – to put elections back into the hands of hard-working Albertans.” In addition to banning corporate and union donations, Wildrose is also calling for a reduction of the contribution limit for individual donors from $15,000 in a non-election year to $5,000 and from $30,000 in an election year to $10,000. “We believe these two major reforms to Alberta’s electoral system will go a long way in restoring Albertans’ confidence in the integrity of our democratic process,” Smith said. Wildrose Justice Critic Shayne Saskiw will table several amendments to Bill 7 that he says will bring clarity and transparency to recent illegal donations scandals. One major amendment would force the mandatory release of illegal donation investigation results and full disclosure of all illegal donations going back seven years. As written, Bill 7 merely gives the Chief Electoral Officer the option of releasing information going back only three years. “As written, Bill 7 does very little to actually improve the accountability and transparency of our democratic institutions and practices,” Saskiw said. “It protects the PC culture of entitlement that resulted in dozens of illegal donations and does not require any of that money to be returned to taxpayers. The PCs are once again attempting to make off like bandits at the taxpayers’ expense.” Other notable amendments to be put forward by Saskiw include:
- Closing any loopholes that allow corporations or individuals to skirt the contribution limits
- Extend how far back release of findings goes from three to seven years
- Make mandatory (instead of optional) that findings of illegal donations are released
- Ensure parties who accept illegal donations face the same penalties as the donors
- Add mandatory reporting of whether illegal donations are paid back