Katz cleared of misdeeds

Election officials have cleared Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz of wrongdoing in a $430,000 campaign contribution last year. Critics say the case has exposed loopholes in campaign funding rules that are so gaping, such contributions should be banned altogether.

EDMONTON — Election officials have cleared Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party and Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz of wrongdoing in a $430,000 campaign contribution last year.

Critics say the case has exposed loopholes in campaign funding rules that are so gaping, such contributions should be banned altogether.

Chief electoral officer Brian Fjeldheim says there’s no evidence that a $430,000 bank draft organized by Katz and delivered to Premier Alison Redford’s Tories a week before voting day in April 2012 broke fundraising rules.

By law, individual donations may not exceed $30,000.

“The investigation revealed that this was not a single contribution of $430,000,” Fjeldheim wrote in a report made public Wednesday,

“There were in fact 17 contributions.”

He confirmed the money was delivered to Redford’s party on April 16, 2012.

The cash represented 20 per cent of the entire Tory campaign war chest.

“Because of a perceived urgency (by the Tories) to utilize funds to purchase advertising during the final week of the campaign, the legal propriety of a bulk donation was discussed and subsequently agreed upon,” wrote Fjeldheim.

Redford’s team won last year’s April 23 election handily with 61 seats to 17 for the Wildrose party in the 87-seat legislature.

The donation made headlines last fall when news reports said the money may have come in one $430,000 cheque from Katz alone.

Katz and Edmonton city councillors have been seeking $100 million in provincial money for a new hockey rink for the National Hockey League Oilers. Redford has refused, but has said the city is free to use infrastructure grant money it gets from the province.

Fjeldheim said his investigation showed that Katz’s friends, family and related corporations contributed properly and that the money was paid soon after the bank draft was sent.

The one exception, said Fjeldheim, was the Katz Group’s chief financial officer. Paul Marcaccio splits his time between Alberta and Ontario.

Fjeldheim deemed Ontario to be the primary residence, making Marcaccio ineligible to donate to Alberta elections.

Marcaccio and the Tory party have said Marcaccio’s $25,000 contribution was returned. The elections office has given him a letter of reprimand.

In Calgary, Redford said the party is pleased with Fjeldheim’s conclusions and stands by what it said in the fall. “We were confident with respect to the work that we had done.”

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said last fall that Katz, his family and friends were smeared in what Denis called an Opposition “Wildrose witch hunt.”

“It’s time they stop maligning these individuals and actually go and apologize,” Denis said at the time.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said even though Fjeldheim has decided that most of the money was donated according to policy, the donation violated the spirit of the rules and the Tories should pay it all back.

“Even if Elections Alberta doesn’t see anything wrong with a single entity delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars to a party in this manner, Albertans certainly do,” said Smith.

NDP critic Rachel Notley said if corporations are allowed to play fast and loose with funding rules, it’s time to scrap union and corporate donations altogether.

Unions are deep-pocket supporters for the NDP. Notley said a ban on those donations would take a $200,000 bite out of the party’s bottom line, but suggested it would be worth it.

“This decision ensures that any corporation can drive a great big truck through an ever-growing set of loopholes in our financing legislation in order to make huge donations,” she said.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman agreed.

“Politics in Alberta is too much about money and not enough about people,” he said.

“Democracy cannot be for sale, or even appear to be for sale.”

Just Posted

Stolen vehicle and gun seized in Blackfalds

Blackfalds man to appear in court

China grants Ivanka Trump 5 trademarks amid trade talks

SHANGHAI — The Chinese government has granted Ivanka Trump’s company preliminary approval… Continue reading

Few signs of breakthrough as May set to unveil Brexit Plan B

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May was set to unveil her new… Continue reading

Winter storm brings snow, rain, wind and cold to Eastern, Central Canada

A powerful winter storm that brought heavy rain and snow to much… Continue reading

250 passengers stranded aboard airplane in frigid Labrador for 16 hours

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — An end is finally in sight for… Continue reading

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Olympian Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Ontario riding

MILTON, Ont. — Former Olympic flag-bearer Adam van Koeverden will be carrying… Continue reading

World champion Osmond says it’s “really nice” not to know what future holds

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Kaetlyn Osmond has a world title, Olympic medals… Continue reading

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

Timberlake pops in on patients at Texas children’s hospital

DALLAS — Justin Timberlake has pulled some sunshine from his pocket for… Continue reading

UK police speak to Prince Philip about not wearing seatbelt

LONDON — British police have spoken with Prince Philip after the husband… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

Most Read