Labour, Wildrose and New Democrats unanimous in call for election finance reform

Alberta Federation of Labour urges level playing field with ban corporate, union donations

Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) welcomes the support of the Wildrose Party in the fight for election finance reform.

On Monday, Nov. 26, the Wildrose Party issued a press release criticizing the Elections Accountability Amendment Act (Bill 7), and called for an end to corporate and union donations to political campaigns, a move that both the AFL and the Alberta New Democratic Party have been advocating. 

“I’m actually surprised – and pleased – to hear the Wildrose Party calling for this kind of electoral finance reform,” Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan said, noting that the press release also used anti-union language. “Danielle Smith is correct to criticize Bill 7, but is wrong to equate union participation in the democratic process with how corporate interests try to buy elections.” 

In 2010, unions donated about $40,000 to the major parties (PC, Wildrose, NDP, Liberals, and Alberta Party), or less than 1 per cent of total political donations. Corporations, on the other hand, donated about $1.9 million, or 35 per cent of all donations. In fact, the Progressive Conservative Party received more than half (55 per cent) of their donations from corporations.

“If unions were buying elections in Alberta, do you think we would have had more than 70 years of right-wing parties in power?” McGowan said. “The Wildrose wants what they call ‘big union’ money out of politics? Take a look at the numbers. There’s no such thing as ‘big union’ money in politics.”

Several election financing scandals during the last provincial election, including a total of $430,000 donated to the Progressive Conservative party from the Katz Group, have undermined Albertans’ faith in the electoral system.  The Elections Accountability Amendment Act, which Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives brought in front of the legislature this week, will strengthen election finance and contribution disclosure rules. The bill has been slammed as ineffectual.

“Bill 7 is an incremental, barely perceptible move in the right direction, but the government doesn’t want to take the steps necessary to reinvigorate democracy in Alberta,” McGowan said. “The Alberta Federation of Labour welcomes real electoral finance reform, as long as rules are imposed fairly and evenly. Unions don’t have the same deep pockets that corporations do, but we will not stand down until there’s meaningful election finance reform.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact the AFL Communications Director, Olav Rokne at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email orokne@afl.org.


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