Publicly Alberta Bill 81 (2021) was proposed by the UCP Government to block foreign influences on Alberta elections and it has a pretty good veneer of legitimacy:
However, like all such laws, the devil is in the details and Mr Madu forgot to mention some mighty nasty changes Bill 81 brings to Alberta. Here are just three points that invite corruption:
1) Allowing Someone Else to Buy a Membership In YOUR Name
One member, one vote is the guiding principle of democracy but that will no longer be the case in Alberta. This change so very clearly invites fraud and abuse
buy by those with money and political experience.
On its face it is improper so perhaps a closer examination of the details highlight a redeeming quality. Nope! In November 2021 the Elections Commissioner looked into the matter and ruled that this term is in breach of the Elections Finance & Contributions Disclosure Act (aka EFCDA).
“An interpretation of Section 25 that would enable an individual to pay for an annual membership on behalf of others would be inconsistent with Section 34.”
2 – Eliminating Contribution Limits on Nominations
The EFCDA will be modified so that contribution limits no longer apply to nomination races. Unfortunately money really can buy elections, even in Canada.
Unlimited funds are particularly effective with new candidates who need to define their own brand but it is even more useful to someone who needs to hide old nastiness.
3 – Constituency Associations Don’t Have To Keep Contribution Records
This change makes it not just possible, but easy for dirty money to be funneled into the party. When a nomination election is over, unspent funds get moved to the central Party. That means if you give $1M to (say) Jason Kenny’s CA for his nomination bid, he can just transfer that money to the Party which will spend it in any riding or on any issue they want. Citizens will have no idea where that money came from.
Imagine a situation in which the Hells Angels want to support (say) Jason Kenny in exchange for political favours. They could give (say) Davinder Toor $2M for his nomination race and Mr. Toor could just hand it to the UCP Party without any tracking. The UCP can then spend it wherever Jason Kenny wants it. Many would ask where all this money come from, and the answer would be nothing more than a shrug.
A more likely scenario will occur when a developer wants Provincial support for a project or a company needs to make some expensive regulations go away.
In addition to “cleaning” dirty money this one change also makes it nearly impossible to know how much any Party is spending on an election, during the election. What the party is spending may be completely disconnected with how much the Party is raising.
It is true that after the election, total dollars spent (not sources) will be known, but that is too late for a competing party to adjust its promotional allocations.
Who Voted For This Bill?
It seems that the UCP is trying to keep the vote quiet as people worry about new virus variants and the Christmas season, but we thought this public disgrace should have a public disclosure.
Here are the UCP MLA’s that voted for Bill 81:
The short version is that three UCP MLA’s abstained and only three UCP MLA’s voted against this bill:
- Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Dave Hanson
- Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer
- Calgary-Fish Creek MLA Richard Gotfried
In short, Alberta Bill 81 (2021) fixes some small problems and creates some massive ones.
Put simply, wealthy elites and corporations will be able to legally buy elections and you don’t even have the right to know who they are.
At 3am Wednesday December 8th 2021 became law in Alberta. Welcome to America!