ILLUSTRATIONS: Elections Alberta’s icon on a canola-yellow field. Below: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark, just to pluck a couple of names out of the story.
Alberta’s New Democratic Party outraised each of the province’s other political parties in the first quarter of 2017, ended March 31.
This is not the first time this has happened since the New Democrat government led by Premier Rachel Notley was elected in May 2015 and, promising to take corporate and union money out of electoral politics, swiftly passed tough political financing legislation that allowed donations only from individuals.
Nevertheless, the latest numbers from Elections Alberta do suggest the law is working essentially as advertised – although, of course, we don’t know how much corporate money is flowing into political slush funds for right wing parties proudly labeled political action committees by their operators.
According to the reports published yesterday by the provincial elections agency, the NDP raised $373,060.23 in the quarter, compared to consolidated donations of $281,606.85 for the Wildrose Party and $226,572.21 for the PCs. (Consolidated reports count donations to constituency associations as well as the party. In the case of the NDP, all donations go to the party.)
We can only speculate on whether a unified right-wing party could collect the same level of support from former supporters of both conservative parties, although, given their traditional differences and the discomfort of many PCs with the direction their party is likely to take under the leadership of social conservative Jason Kenney, this seems unlikely.
The Alberta Liberal Party, with a leadership contest in its near future, raised $47,959.83 in the quarter, the Alberta Party took in a consolidated $14,070.49, which must have been a disappointment for leader Greg Clark, and the Green Party of Alberta was given consolidated donations of $5,192.50.
Totals for all of 2016 lined up in the same order:
NDP – $2.3 million
WRP – $1.5 million
PC – $1 million
ALP – $184,700
AP – $90,100
Greens – $28,000
It would probably be reading too much into these latest numbers to suggest that they mean Wildrose Leader Brian Jean is a little more popular than his rival Mr. Kenney, or that the PCs still haven’t really figured out how to raise money after thriving on huge corporate donations for generations.
The reasons people make political contributions are more nuanced and complicated than such calculations suggest.
If the latest numbers show anything it’s how much support there is for the NDP, notwithstanding the prevailing narratives of both the opposition parties and the mainstream media.
To repeat an old line from past reports of this sort, readers and watchers of various far-right social media sites who see Communists hiding under almost every bed and park bench in Alberta will be disappointed to learn the Communist Party brought in no donations at all once again in the first quarter of 2017. Nor did the Alberta First Party, Alberta Social Credit and the Reform Party of Alberta.
Meanwhile, on either side of Alberta, the conservative party in British Columbia that is known as the Liberals and the conservative party in Saskatchewan called the Saskatchewan Party continue to raise huge amounts of corporate cash by selling access to their leaders.
NOTE: This story was posted on April 20 and has been reposted after it got lost in the move to a new web hosting service. Again, apologies if anyone’s comment disappeared in the shuffle. The post also appears on Rabble.ca. DJC