I feel like I should be outraged about recent allegations that Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives have received thousands of dollars in illegal donations from municipalities and public institutions including the University of Lethbridge, but I am not.
Under elections finance legislation in Alberta, it is illegal for these entities to make financial contributions to a political party.
Perhaps it is the ingrained institutionalism of the Progressive Conservative Association as Alberta’s governing party for more than 40 years that has made these types of allegations seem unsurprising and feel normal. Is this just how municipalities and public institutions do business in a virtual one-party state like Alberta?
I offer three thoughts on this issue:
1) If laws were broken, then those laws need to be enforced and mechanisms need to be created so that these laws are not broken again.
2) These illegal donations were not collected in desperation. The PCs did not need this money. In 2010, the governing party raised more than $3 million, which is twice that of the closest opposition party (the Wildrose Party). I have the impression that some of these financial contributions were solicited and collected by local volunteers, most whom may have unknowingly broken the law (…because this is they way business has always been done in Alberta).
3) Will it stick? CBC reporter Charles Rusnell broke this story and has been producing some excellent investigative journalism, but I am skeptical if this will be an issue that will seriously hurt Alison Redford‘s PCs in the upcoming general election.
Alberta’s opposition parties are skilled at generating angry and outraged media releases, but proving to Albertans that they are fit to govern is a completely different challenge.