Official complaint over Katz' donation to PC party filed, calls for investigation
Published Friday, October 26, 2012 4:35PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, October 26, 2012 6:39PM MDT
An official complaint has been filed with Elections Alberta, calling for an investigation into Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz’ sizable donation to the PC party.
Both the Wildrose and NDP parties made the requests on Friday, after allegations that Katz’ gave one single cheque worth $430,000 when the legal maximum for a single donation cannot exceed $30,000.
“We want to see the cancelled cheque because it’s not okay as far as we’re concerned to send a cheque that is massively in violation,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason.
“Heck, we probably have some donors who would’ve have given us $430,000, if it wasn’t against the law. It’s against the law,” said Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.
Critics say the situation is a perfect example of why election laws need to change.
“We need a system where donors decide elections, not dollars,” said NDP Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley.
“It is problematic with respect to the spirit of the (Election) Act,” said political scientist Chaldeans Mensah.
“We need to reduce the limits. We also need to make sure controls are in place so any donations have a paper trail that will leave no doubt as to the intent and purpose of the contribution.”
Mensah suggests $5,000 as a maximum cap, but also thinks the rules need to be clarified as it is reported that one cheque led to receipts divided to Katz’ family, friends, employees and businesses in order to get under the $30,000 donation.
“This idea of family contributions shouldn’t be allowed because it breaks the purpose and the spirit of the Act,” Mensah said.
“There needs to be clarity going forward.”
Premier Alison Redford said on Thursday that she was confident the PC party had complied to all Elections Act financing rules and says the Chief Electoral Officer is welcome to investigate.
“We know the Chief Electoral Officer has the ability to do investigations, to provide advice to independent prosecutors and that will be entirely up to the chief electoral officer to decide to do that … and we are very happy to co-operate fully,” Redford said.
News of the donation had critics alleging that Katz was trying to buy off the Tory government – as he’s been lobbying the province for cash for a new downtown arena.
However Redford restated Thursday that the government will not be directly providing money to fund the project.
“We’ve been very clear on the fact that this provincial government will not be providing any direct provincial funding to any professional sports arena,” she said.
The Chief Electoral Officer will decide next week if an investigation into the donation is required.
If wrongdoing is determined – the PC party would have to return the money and the donor would be fined $10,000.
A review of the province’s election financing laws was already on the agenda for this fall session, even before details of the Katz cheque donation became public.
With files from Kevin Armstrong