Danielle In QP, November 26: Corporate and Union Donations to Political Parties

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s clear that the current rules on campaign donations can lead to problems. We all know of the hundreds of thousands of dollars directed to one party by one individual with many different business interests before this government, and we’ve seen union members balk when their dues are used to support political parties with which they may not agree. In the spirit of raising the bar on openness and transparency, will the government now join the growing chorus of voices and put an end to political donations from both corporations and unions?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear to Albertans. With the advent of our Premier’s assuming the leadership of this government, we have introduced legislation on provincial elections and donations, which is currently before the House and will be one of the most transparent ones in the land. We have also introduced a public disclosure act, which is known as the whistleblower legislation, which further speaks to those points. We have instituted what I would consider, and probably most would, to be the toughest expense and travel policies for not only elected officials in government but also for all public-sector employees and third parties. That shows leadership, and we are taking that leadership.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is quite specific because the government’s proposed legislation doesn’t include any provisions to limit the source of donations. Earlier today we made a policy statement on it. Now, the Premier does like to talk about policy in question period on the odd occasion, so will she now agree with this policy and put an end to union and corporate donations?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, legislation has been tabled on the table. I don’t think we will be discussing it in question period. The member, if she chooses to do so, will have ample opportunity to  not only debate the legislation as it stands, but she can also file additional amendments. She knows she’s privileged to do so.

Let me point out one difference. While these individuals continue to complain about standards and practices, this side of the House actually is introducing changes and brings in much more transparency and much more accountability to finances in Alberta.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our understanding is that we specifically can’t amend this section in the legislation, which is why I am asking this question today. We believe that putting election financing entirely in the hands of individuals is the easiest way to protect the process from even the perception of undue influence. Now, the feds have done it. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Quebec have done it. Isn’t it time for Alberta to clean things up, too, and ban corporate and union donations?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, I can’t be more clear. The piece of legislation that speaks to that was introduced by this government and by this leader. That is why it is on the floor of this Legislature, and that is why we are debating it. If that particular member feels that there are ways of strengthening that legislation, instead of making innuendos during question period, table amendments, debate the legislation as it comes up for debate. All we’re hearing is innuendos. I’m looking forward to some meaningful discussion out of the oppositi