During the 2015 Alberta election campaign, NDP leader Rachel Notley was loud and proud about her plans to abolish union and corporate donations to political parties. Today, she made it known that Bill 1, a bill banning those donations, will be the first bill tabled by her new majority government. This is admirable. While I take some issues with the bill (particularly the fact that it does not address municipal elections), I think it is a very solid move by the new government. Bill 1 speaks clearly to the new NDP government’s commitment to political reform and transparency…or it would, had the Alberta NDP not just won an election won with the assistance of massive union and corporate donations.
Today, I was sent a first quarter (January – March 2015) donation report for the Alberta NDP. While the typical names line the report (Lou Arab, Guy Smith, party candidates, family of candidates, etc), there were also some fairly shocking numbers, especially considering how vehemently Notley claimed to oppose union and corporate donations.
Of the $221,548.16 in donations over $250 that were accepted by the NDP, $59,401.87 or 26.8% were made by unions or corporations. The two largest donations to the NDP in this span of time were made by the Canadian Union of Provincial Employees ($15,000) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada ($14,950). Six of the top ten donations made to the party during this time were made by unions and corporations.
Of course, these numbers do not factor in any of the $185,335.20 that the party collected in donations under $250. These numbers will become much more interesting when the party’s second quarter (including the election campaign) fundraising numbers are released. Again, it is admirable that the NDP made Bill 1 their first piece of legislation, but the numbers presented thus far reek of hypocrisy. If the NDP truly oppose union and corporate donations so strongly, why did they accept more than a quarter of their donations over $250 from those very same unions and corporations?
Furthermore, one has to wonder if members of the Insulators Local 110, USWA District #3 and Teamsters Local Union 362 realize that their dues, taken off their paycheques without them having any say in the matter, were donated to a party that openly opposes their jobs in the oil and gas industry. Ultimately, this is just another argument in favour of right to work legislation in Canada.
The January – March NDP donation report can be found here.
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