Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alberta Media Bias and Big Money Interests

This article by Kelly Cryderman And Darcy Henton (from the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Sun) captures the nature of the Alberta provincial electoral system, in which private major media has free reign to be biased and partisan, and corporate money interests dominate electoral finances. In addition, the Alberta system is characterized by electoral finance inequity. The FDA believes that the Alberta provincial electoral is working for minority/special interests rather than the interests of Albertans as a whole.

In 2011 Alberta party electoral finance figures from Elections Alberta are as follows:

PC Party: $3.4 million (including large donations from major corporations)
Wildrose: $2.7 million (including large donations from major corporations)
Alberta NDP $877.488
Alberta Liberals $593,000
Alberta Party $227,404

Note the article (below) makes zero mention of four other Alberta registered parties:

Alberta Social Credit
Communist Party--Alberta
Evergreen Party
Separation Party of Alberta

The FDA just completed an electoral finance audit of all 10 provinces, and Alberta finished last with a failing score of 47.7 percent. The score means that the Alberta's electoral finance legislation is systematically corrupt. The FDA will be releasing the report on April 10th.

Wildrose donations skyrocket; 'Financial rival' to Tories saw 2011 fundraising jump to $2.7M

Edmonton Journal
Wed Apr 4 2012
Page: A1 / Front
Section: News
Byline: Kelly Cryderman and Darcy Henton
Source: Calgary Herald

The long-governing Progressive Conservatives have finally met their monetary match in the Wildrose, according to 2011 party financial statements released by Elections Alberta.

With money flowing in from regular Albertans and Calgary's downtown corporate towers, the Wildrose party raised about 50 per cent more last year than it did in 2010 - jumping to $2.7 million from $1.8 million.

But the documents show the Tories have no shortage of cash. Despite the party's most productive fundraisers being focused on an eight-month leadership race in 2011, the PCs managed to raise about $300,000 more than they did in 2010, taking in about $3.4 million.

To see how well we did last year as a party in light of that, I think is a phenomenal result," said party president Bill Smith.

Smith noted five of six PC party leadership candidates took in $6 million in 2011 for the big-ticket leadership race to replace former premier Ed Stelmach, more than double what the party spent during the entire 2008 provincial election.

However, Mount Royal University political analyst David Taras said the 2011 numbers released Monday don't reflect what's happening on the ground now, and the Wildrose ascendancy in the polls.

"This is the first time in the last 35 years when the Tories have a financial rival," Taras said. "What this indicates is even in 2011, the Wildrose was in a position to go toe-to-toe with the Tories" and spend on pricey items such as advertising and travel. The question, Taras said, is whether Wildrose has surpassed the Tories in raking in 2012 donations.

In 2011, Wildrose got large donations from major business players including FirstEnergy Capital Corp., Cenovus Energy Inc. and EnCana Corp., as well as industry leaders such as former WestJet chief executive Sean Durfy and former Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. chairman Allan Markin.

The Tories' donor list shows corporations provided the lion's share of funding to the governing PCs, totalling $1.9 million of $3.4 million raised.

For instance, AltaLink and ATCO donated $14,999.50 and $12,950 respectively. SNC Lavalin, which owns AltaLink, donated another $2,500.

Both the Liberals and NDP also said 2011 was a good fundraising year. The Liberals raised $593,000 in 2011, a slight increase from 2010. Leader Raj Sherman said his party managed early in 2012 to pay off the last thousands of a $1-million debt incurred in the 2001 election.

The New Democrats raised total revenues of $877,488 in 2011 - compared to $728,460 in 2010, said party secretary Brian Stokes. The party has liabilities of $378,993, but Stokes said he's confident it will clear that off in a few years.

The upstart Alberta Party, led by Glenn Taylor, managed to raise $227,405, more than double the $91,626 it raised in 2010.

Alberta allows individuals, corporations and unions to donate $15,000 in non-election years and $30,000 in election years. The limit federally is $1,200 per person.

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