Illegal donations scandal a witch hunt
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 01:33 pm
It was nothing more than a poor job of communicating donation rules, not a widespread scandal of a political party reaping in millions in illegal donations.
Elections Alberta has found the Progressive Conservative Party in contravention of the Elections Act by accepting political donations from prohibited corporations, which were mainly municipalities.
The donations were not significant.
In fact, the MD of Foothills and the Town of Okotoks contributed about $2,900 since 2010, but the “donations” were for entries into golf tournaments and tickets to a premier’s dinner — then Ed Stelmach. These were functions where councillors and administration would have an opportunity to meet ministers and MLAs in an effort to push for funding for local projects or build a rapport with important people in government.
Most councillors still support attending these events despite the ruling from Elections Alberta because they were crucial in building relationships.
The PC party was found to be accepting illegal donations because it cannot take funds from municipalities. However, in every case the councillors purchased the tickets personally and then they were reimbursed by the municipality.
The political party is not without responsibility, but how is a local constituency office supposed to know the councillors are being reimbursed by the municipality? Their cheques were not from a prohibited corporation.
The municipal councillors did not realize what they were doing was prohibited and no one was willingly trying to circumvent the Elections Act.
This entire issue could have been settled with a warning from Elections Alberta accompanied by an outline of contribution rules.
This should not be made into the scandal the Opposition is making it out to be.
Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw, said Elections Alberta should press charges against the Tory party.
“The only thing a bully understands is retribution,” said Saskiw in a press release. “In order to break the cycle of corruption and entitlement in the party, they must be punished for breaking the law.”
This is more than an overreaction and blatant grandstanding by Mr. Saskiw and the Wildrose who need to turn their focus on the significant issues facing the provincial government.
This was a minor issue and the municipalities, who are most guilty in this misunderstanding, have made retribution.
It is time to move on.