Monday, March 26, 2012

Evidence of Wildrose Being Canceled Out by the PC Party

In this Edmonton Journal article by Trish Audette and Lucas Timmons, there is evidence that the Wildrose Party is being canceled out by the PC Party in terms of large contributions. Yet ironically, the Wildrose Party has the single largest donors from 2004 to 2010 from the Thorsteinson family. The Wildrose claims that it has the highest contributions in terms of small contributions, but the FDA has no evidence to prove that. Interestingly, the large corporate contributors play a hedging game, which may be an indication of political corruption in terms of buying influence over Alberta provincial legislation. (The same hedging occurs at the Alberta municipal level of government.) The FDA believes that corporations and trade unions should be disallowed from making electoral contributions as is the case in Manitoba and Nova Scotia for examples. Democracy should only be about the people.

Shortly, the FDA will be releasing an electoral fairness audit report on Canada's 10 provinces.

Just 31 donors switch to Wildrose from Tories; New party gained $75,000

While recent polls suggest the Wildrose is closely tailing the Progressive Conservatives going into a spring election, an Edmonton Journal analysis of political donations shows that by 2010 the fledgling right-wing party hadn't managed to over a majority of big-spending Tory donors.

Between 2004 and 2010, only 31 donors switched allegiance from the Progressive Conservatives to the Wildrose, taking nearly $75,000 with them between 2008 and 2010. Up to 2009, those donors had contributed nearly $112,000 to the Progressive Conservatives.

But Wildrose senate candidate and former executive director Vitor Marciano said the analysis, based on financial records filed with Elections Alberta, only takes into consideration donors who contributed at least $375 to political parties. The province's disclosure laws don't require names of donors who contribute less than that to be made public.

We massively outraised (the Tories) in the small donation category. And that's where overwhelming numbers of people who used to be (Progressive Conservative) supporters are now in Wildrose," Marciano said. The large donors, they tend to make their donations sometimes a little strategically, so I'm not surprised they haven't completely switched over."

Donors who hedged their bets by donating to both conservative parties in 2010 contributed a total $84,000, 52 per cent of which went to the governing party and 48 per cent to the Wildrose.

For a number of years, Wildrose funding - or Alberta Alliance donations - came from a smaller cross-section of individuals, reflecting the party's roots as what Marciano called a "small protest party." Marciano said that changed when Danielle Smith took over as leader in 2009.

Political scientist Chaldeans Mensah said after then-premier Ed Stelmach's review and realignment of oil royalties in 2008, some observers expected financial support for the governing party to drop.

There was concern that funding for the (Progressive Conservatives) was going to dry up because of unhappiness by some of the oil and gas entities with the royalty review," the MacEwan University professor said.

"The government went out of its way to make some changes in that regime and I don't think that they suffered too much in terms of political contributions."

The largest loss for the Progressive Conservatives was Nexen Inc., a Calgary-based oil and gas company. Nexen donated $59,850 to the Tories between 2004 and 2009, and $41,850 to the Alberta Liberals during the same period. In 2010, the company gave $2,200 to the Wildrose and nothing to the PCs or Liberals.

Asked about the 31 donors who switched parties, Progressive Conservative campaign strategist Stephen Carter said, "I don't think that's too bad."

"People give for all kinds of different reasons. The key is to make sure that you're representing their points of view," Carter said.

"I'm a believer that there should be lots of political parties with lots of different points of view, and they should be well-funded by people who care."

ALBERTA'S TOP DONORS

Top 10 individual donors to Alberta's political parties, 2004-2010
- Randy Thorsteinson: $92,000 (Wildrose)
- Carl Thorsteinson: $90,000 (Wildrose)
- Kathleen Thorsteinson: $90,000 (Wildrose)
- Jackie Flanagan: $85,900 ($70,900 to the Alberta Liberals; $15,000 to the Alberta Party)
- Stanley A. Milner: $73,250 (Progressive Conservatives)
- Audrey Luft: $65,925 (Progressive Conservatives)
- Kathleen Gayle Thorsteinson: $60,000 (Wildrose)
- Edward Mcfeely: $55,000 (Wildrose)
- Irving Kipnes: $46,550 (Progressive Conservatives)
- David Swann: $41,485 (Alberta Liberals)
Top 10 corporate donors to Alberta's political parties, 2004-2010
- EnCana Corp.: $201,710 ($106,710 to the Progressive Conservatives; $50,000 to the Wildrose; $45,000 to the Alberta Liberals)
- TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.: $134,370 ($115,470 to the Progressive Conservatives; $18,900 to the Alberta Liberals)
- Suncor Energy Inc.: $124,768 ($81,780 to the Progressive Conservatives; $42,988 to the Alberta Liberals)
- Enbridge Pipelines Inc.: $115,600 ($82,400 to the Progressive Conservatives; $33,200 to the Alberta Liberals)
- Nexen Inc.: $103,900 ($59,850 to the Progressive Conservatives; $41,850 to the Alberta Liberals; $2,200 to the Wildrose)
- Penn West Petroleum Ltd.: $99,950 ($92,950 to the Progressive Conservatives; $7,000 to the Alberta Liberals)
- Big Rock Brewery Ltd.: $91,700 (Progressive Conservatives)
- Dow Chemical Canada Inc.: $90,500 ($79,850 to the Progressive Conservatives; $10,650 to the Alberta Liberals)
- Cascadia Motivation: $90,000 (Wildrose)
- Imperial Oil Ltd.: $85,000 ($58,500 to the Progressive Conservatives; $26,500 to the Alberta Liberals)
Compiled by Lucas Timmons. Source: Elections Alberta

2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Alberta

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