Elections Alberta in the dark

On August 12, 2016 the Globe and Mail reported that Jason Kenney “is scouring Alberta for support and cash” and that the NDP has asked Elections Alberta whether these fundraising rules violate provincial spending laws. A similar report was made in the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal on August 11.

  • Aug. 25, 2016 10:22 a.m.

On August 12, 2016 the Globe and Mail reported that Jason Kenney “is scouring Alberta for support and cash” and that the NDP has asked Elections Alberta whether these fundraising rules violate provincial spending laws. A similar report was made in the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal on August 11.

The response from Elections Act, perhaps predictably, is that Alberta “currently doesn’t have any authority to govern or restrict election spending by anyone outside the election period”. Subsequent reports by these two Alberta papers have assumed that this is correct. And yet, the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act states in section 17(4) that “No contributions may be made to a candidate except during a campaign period.”

Alberta not only prohibits contributions prior to a campaign, it also defines when a campaign begins – presumably in order to ensure that parties can’t simply fiddle the system. In the case of a leadership context, the Act defines a campaign as “the period beginning on the date of the official call of the leadership contest, as set out in a statement filed by a registered party under section 9.2…” So the question is, what is the date of the official call for the leadership of the PC party? Elections Alberta’s own website states that the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta has “notified the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of its planned leadership contest” and that in “accordance with section 9.2(1) of the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act” that date is given as “June 30, 2016”.

In other words, prior to June 30, 2016, Mr. Kenney should not be able to collect any contributions. After June 30, contributions he receives are governed by the limits set out in the Act. Surely Elections Alberta should know its own legislation, or is this more than ignorance?

Joe Anglin, Rimbey