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With gov't spending millions per year on ads, NDP should scrap motion to handcuff political party spending

With the government spending almost $6 million in government advertising in just one year, the NDP should either scrap a new motion to limit election spending or give political parties the same spending caps on advertising as the Alberta government, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

At a recent Ethics & Accountability Committee meeting, NDP MLAs moved a motion to put a cap of $1.6 million for parties to spend on an election, or 60 cents per elector, the lowest in the country for jurisdictions with election spending caps.

In Ontario, a jurisdiction with an 80 cents per elector spending cap, unions were behind 94 per cent of ad spending in the past three elections.

Wildrose House Leader Nathan Cooper said with big money donations on their way out in Alberta politics, the NDP should not use their majority to tilt elections in their favour.

“Right now, the NDP government is wasting taxpayer dollars saturating the airwaves with expensive ad campaigns while trying to handcuff the ability of their political opponents to share their vision for the province by the time of the next election,” Cooper said. “Wildrose has successfully advocated and worked to get rid of big money influence in Alberta politics. With third party groups and advertisers having a growing influence, political parties should be allowed to spend the money they raise so they can share their vision with Albertans.” 

Last June, NDP MLAs adopted Wildrose policy to get big money out of political party financing by scrapping corporate and union donations. To date, the NDP government has refused to pass a Wildrose bill to ban all government advertising and announcements during a byelection or within an election cycle.

Cooper warned the NDP policies could lead to an Ontario-style system where parties are drowned out in their ability to communicate with Albertans.

“The NDP are trying to restrict total party spending, including advertising, to a fraction of what their government has spent just on advertising in one year,” Cooper said. “That’s not a fair system. They should focus on serious proposals to improve accountability in our system, instead of playing political games.”