The biggest pro-UCP PAC has emerged from its post-election hibernation and is now being used to promote Kenney’s goal of pulling Alberta out of CPP
EDMONTON – The outlines of Jason Kenney’s political strategy for the next two years are starting to emerge – and its becoming clear that corporate-sponsored pro-UCP political action committees (PACs) are going to play a significant role.
The biggest pro-UCP PAC is one called Shaping Alberta’s Future, a registered political advertiser formed before the last provincial election to “promote Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party.”
In the lead up to the last election, seven pro-UCP PACs were created. Collectively, they raised more than $5.9 million from corporations and wealthy individuals to pay for attack ads against the Notley NDP. Shaping Alberta’s Future accounted for $2.2 million of that total.
Over the past few months, Shaping Alberta’s Future has emerged from its post-election hibernation and is now being used to promote Kenney’s goal of pulling Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
They’ve revamped their website – www.shapingalberta.com – to focus on the issue. They’ve also paid significant sums of money to place guest columns in newspapers promoting the idea of an Alberta pension (the “sponsored” columns on pensions paid for by Shaping Alberta’s Future can be found here, here and here).
The fact that Kenney is facilitating and orchestrating the work of corporate PACs while moving to muzzle public campaigns financed by unions is an illustration of the Premier’s blatant hypocrisy, says Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan. It also illustrates Kenney’s determination to silence critics and his desire to tip the political playing field in favour of the UCP and it's corporate backers, he adds.
“Jason Kenney will soon introduce legislation to further restrict unions from standing up and speaking out,” says McGowan. “But at the same time, he’s rolling out the red carpet for pro-UCP PACs to campaign in support of the UCP and its policies – policies that are clearly not supported by Albertans and are not in the public interest. Albertans need to be aware of this blatant attempt to silence critics and tip the playing field in favour of corporations and the self-interested rich. When you connect the dots between what the UCP is doing with pro-UCP PACs and what they’re doing to union campaigns, it adds up to an assault on both free speech rights and democracy in our province.”
According to Elections Alberta, Shaping Alberta’s Future had $134,478.50 in the bank at the end of 2019 [LINK]. But McGowan says they’ve almost certainly been aggressively raising money from deep-pocketed corporate donors over the past few months.
“That’s the real reason the UCP has been going berserk over the AFL’s campaign encouraging Albertans to boycott the businesses that bankroll pro-UCP PACs like Shaping Alberta’s Future. They don’t really care about lost jobs. They’re angry that we’ve pulled back the curtain on their dark money strategy and they’re worried that our campaign might make it harder for them to raise money from deep-pocketed business owners,” says McGowan.
“When a business group that is 100% aligned with Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party is campaigning to take control of the retirement savings of ordinary Albertans, people should be concerned. When this happens at the same time that Jason Kenney is moving to silence unions who everyone knows will fight against these kinds of attacks, people should be alarmed.”
Director of Communications, AFL