UCP dominates third quarter fundraising, pro-UCP Shaping Alberta’s Future PAC flush with car dealership cash

Elections Alberta released the financial disclosures showing the results of political party fundraising in the third quarter of 2018.

Here are my quick thoughts on the latest fundraising numbers:

The United Conservative Party raised more than $1 million for the second quarter in a row, demonstrating the dominant conservative party’s ability to raise significantly larger amounts than any of the other parties. There is no doubt that the UCP is an impressive fundraising machine and will not be hurting for money when the next election is called.

The New Democratic Party raised $676,446.91 in this quarter, which is $237,000 more than the party raised in the same quarter in 2017 and a drop from the $856,960 raised in the last quarter. The NDP continues to lag behind the UCP in terms of total fundraising, but the governing party is around $500,000 ahead in total annual fundraising from where it was during last year’s third quarter.

The Alberta Party saw its fundraising totals drop by almost $100,000 compared to last quarter, leaving the third-place party with $28,915 in fundraising reported in the third quarter.

The remnant of the Progressive Conservative Party, which is now legally controlled by the UCP board of directors, disclosed a $2,500 donation from Jack Seguin of Acheson in the third quarter. It is not clear whether this donation was a mistake on the part of the UCP or whether this is an interest payment on the $192,237 remaining debt that was listed in the party’s annual disclosure filed at the end of 2017. 

The total number of donations collected by Alberta’s political parties in 2017 and 2018 is somewhat complicated by the fact that donations collected during by-election periods from November 16, 2017 to February 14, 2018, and from June 14 to July 12, 2018 are counted separately from the regular quarterly reports.

During the by-election period that ended on February 14, 2018, the NDP collected $886,591.29 , the UCP collected $840,794.02, and the Liberal Party collected $61,662.19. The financial reports from the by-election period in June and July 2018 has not yet been released but will include funds raised by the parties during that period that might not be included in the third quarter financial disclosure released last week.

Pro-UCP PAC flush with car dealership cash

A billboard advertisement from the Shaping Alberta's Future PAC.

A billboard advertisement from the Shaping Alberta’s Future PAC.

Not limited by donations laws banning corporate donations that apply to political parties, two pro-UCP Third Party Political Advertisers, known colloquially as Political Action Committees, are flush with cash.

The AAFund raised $261,500.00 in the third quarter of 2018 and a total of $915,454.77 in the first three quarters of 2018. Shaping Alberta’s Future raised $275,000 in the third quarter of 2018, of which at least $170,000 came from car dealerships across the province. 

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson

Following a meeting with UCP leader Jason Kenney on September 6, 2018, Motor Dealer Association of Alberta chairman Andrew Robinson wrote in a letter to association members that the MDA board voted to “contribute $100,000.00 to the Shaping Alberta’s Future political action company to assist in the UCP 3rd party advertising campaign.”

In his letter, Robinson noted Kenney would roll back personal and corporate taxes, freeze minimum wage and explore lower wages for young workers, and cancel all reforms the NDP have made the the Labour Code, Occupational Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation Board.

Robinson wrote that the MDA board voted to solicit its dealer members to contribute to Shaping Alberta’s Future. The letter noted that the “MDA’s goal donation is $1,000,000.00” and that “each MDA dealership write a cheque in the amount of $5,000.00.”

The President of the MDA is Denis Ducharme, who served as the PC MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake from 1997 to 2008.

Speaking to Postmedia columnist Keith Gerein, Shaping Alberta’s Future executive director David Wasyluk denied that the UCP and the pro-UCP PAC have been collaborating. Wasyluk was until recently the spokesperson for the right-wing BC Liberal Party and a research officer for the BC Liberal Party caucus before that party was removed from government in 2017.

Elections Alberta disclosures also show that Edmonton philanthropist Stanley Milner is of the largest individual donors of the AAFund and Shaping Alberta’s Future, having donated around $88,000 to the two pro-UCP political action committees.

The primary contacts for each group are also provided by Elections Alberta. The primary contact for the AAFund is Edmonton lawyer and former Wildrose Party executive director Jonathan Wescott, who is the Principal of the Alberta Counsel lobby firm. The primary contract for Shaping Alberta’s Future is Douglas Nelson, who was previously listed as the Chief Financial Officer for Jason Kenney’s now defunct Third Party Political Advertisers, the Alberta Victory Fund.

11 thoughts on “UCP dominates third quarter fundraising, pro-UCP Shaping Alberta’s Future PAC flush with car dealership cash

  1. Ron

    Is anyone surprised that they car dealerships of all businesses are the ones who don’t want to take action against climate change and pollution? UCP wants to roll back Alberta to the 1950s. Burn baby burn.

    Reply
  2. Jerrymacgp

    Your summary of the MDA letter misses one significant point of self-interest: consumer protection. “Consumer Protection Act Changes – MDA President will be asked to meet with the UCP transition team to provide input on how to rebalance the playing field between consumers and industry. Returning AMVIC to a delegated authority from a government agency, appointments of AMVIC Chair, compensation fund control, etc.”

    Essentially, what the province’s car dealers want is to revert the government’s move to make AMVIC independent of industry, and make it once again captive of the industry it is supposed to oversee. The MDA’s version of MAGA is MAASICA, for “Make Alberta’s Auto Sales Industry Crooked Again”. Too long for a ball cap, but maybe it’d fit on a 10-gallon hat.

    Reply
  3. Al B

    Before anyone gets too high on their horse they should check Ed Stelmach’s Wikipedia entry and drill down to “2008 Election” where this snippet comes from:

    “Shortly before the writ was dropped, a group calling itself Albertans for Change began to buy print and television ads that attacked Stelmach for lacking a plan and portrayed him as unfit to lead the province. The group was funded by the Alberta Building Trades Council and the Alberta Federation of Labour, which led to a series of ads purchased by the National Citizens Coalition and Merit Contractors, in which it was accused of “putting your [union members’] money where [union leadership’s] mouths are.”

    Albertan’s for Change spent a large amount of cash trying to sink Stelmach. I think $2,000,000 was mentioned somewhere.

    My point? NDs thought they had election fundraising tied down to their satisfaction but those damned voters see things differently. Monitoring the process is good and necessary.

    Dave . . . . your comments on the labour PAC fundraising for the 2008 election and how that result influences their involvement today?

    Best Regards,

    Reply
  4. Davi

    I am a bit surprised the Alberta Party didn’t do better, I don’t think this is a good sign for them. Fundraising seems to be mostly a two horse race at this point.

    I am concerned about PAC’s, which seem to have become a way for various industry groups get around the rules against corporate donations. If we actually have to put up with this sort of thing I would rather it was upfront and those signs listed the Motor Dealers Association as who was sponsoring or directing the adverting, rather than hiding behind the rather vague and ambiguous name of Shaping Alberta’s Future. PAC’s are making political activity less transparent, not more and that is not a good thing.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Not a surprise here. The Alberta PCs, were a bad bunch for decades. Why return to that corruption and cronyism. The Alberta PCs have turned bad, when Peter Lougheed left. I see the UCP being identical.

    Reply
  6. Al Boychuk

    NDs thought they had election spending rules nailed down to their satisfaction but those damned voters have their own ideas. Monitoring election spending is necessary and a good thing.

    Before anyone gets to high on their horse about campaign fundraising – and spending, check the Wikipedia entry for Ed Stelmach, specifically, “2008 election” and you’ll learn that labour organizations were running attack ads before the writ was dropped. Good thing Fast Eddie has a thick hide or he’d have been upset about those ads.

    Davealberta: your thoughts on how effective PAC spending by the right and left will be in 2019?

    Reply
    1. Chris

      Before we throw stones in our glass houses let us look at some other PACs currently registered with Elections Alberta (source Elections Alberta, via Edmonton Journal Oct 28, 2018):

      1. Project Alberta
      Mark Wells, a former communications director for the Alberta NDP, launched the PAC last year. In April, the group pulled in the highest fundraising numbers in the first quarter, totalling $295,000. Wells said the organization was focused on communicating a message about social and economic equality.
      Funds raised Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2018: $385,000
      Main contributors: UFCW Local 401 in Red Deer and United Steelworkers

      2. Alberta Federation of Labour Inc.
      The organization is affiliated with the NDP. Earlier this year, AFL president Gil McGowan said advertising dollars raised in 2017 were used for campaigns around the minimum wage, universal child care and changes to the labour code and employment standards.
      Funds raised Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2018: $251,249
      Main contributors: United Nurses of Alberta, UFCW Local 401 in Red Deer, Health Sciences Association of Alberta and local chapters of CUPE, UNIFOR and USW.

      3. Public Interest Alberta Society
      The left-leaning organization lists several “action areas” on its website including child care, democracy and education. Recently the PAC advocated in support of minimum wage increases in Alberta. The NDP increased minimum wage to $15 per hour on Oct. 1 in the final phase of its program to raise wages.
      Funds raised Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2018: $101,142
      Main contributors: Alberta Teachers’ Association, AUPE, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, United Nurses of Alberta

      4. Progress Alberta
      The left-leaning advocacy group is billed on its website as an organization “dedicated to building a more progressive Alberta” and promotes the message that UCP Leader Jason Kenney offers a “regressive style of conservative politics.”
      Funds raised Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2018: $8,706
      Contributor: Progress Alberta political advertising account

      Reply

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