by Morinville News Staff

The government says if its Fair Elections Financing Act passes, it will “ensure Albertans – not big money and special interest groups – decide the outcome of elections,” and create a “sunshine list” for third party advertising.

The NDP’s proposed changes to The Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act would introduce a combined contribution limit of $4,000 per individual contributor per calendar year. Currently, the limit is $15,000 per year or $30,000 if it is an election year.

The annual limit applies to any combination of parties, constituency associations, candidates, byelection candidates, leadership contestants and nomination contestants.

“Albertans decide elections, not big money and special interests,” said Premier Rachel Notley in a release Monday. “True democracy ensures equal opportunity for all, and these amendments would level the playing field so that political parties, leaders, and candidates focus on the strength of their ideas rather than the depth of their donors’ pockets.”

Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal, said the move follows last year’s banning of corporate and union donations.
“[We] are now taking the next step to strengthen the democratic process,” Gray said. “Our comprehensive approach is aimed at encouraging fair elections and making sure we close back doors and loopholes that allow big money to flow into the electoral process.”

The act also proposes amendments to limit campaign spending, set reasonable rules for leadership contests and nomination races, regulate loans and guarantees to political parties, and improve transparency in third party advertising.

If the bill passes, political parties would be limited to $2 million in spending. Electoral divisions would be limited to $50,000 for candidate campaigns. The spending limits for general elections would apply from the dropping of the writ to the close of polls on election day.

The act would also set spending limits on election advertising by third parties to $150,000, of which the government says no more than $3,000 could be used to support or oppose candidates in a particular electoral division.

Third parties would have to register with Elections Alberta between elections and disclose contributions on a “sunshine list” if they planned to spend $1,000 on political advertising, incur $1,000 in expenses for political advertising, or receive $1,000 in donations for political advertising. Third party advertisers would have to identify themselves in their advertisements, and contributors to third party advertisers would be disclosed on a database maintained by Elections Alberta.

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