To say I rarely agree with the Wildrose Party would be an understatement. Yet they have recently stated a policy which I heartily support and have heartily supported for a long time. Party leader Danielle Smith reported this week that her party wants Alberta's election financing laws to ban donations to political parties from unions and corporations. The party joins the Alberta Liberals and NDP who have long supported a ban.
The measure would have cost Wildrose $870,000 in the last provincial election, 28 per cent of their total fundraising. However, this is a lower percentage than would have been lost by the other three parties. The Conservatives, for example, who are heavily dependent on corporate largesse, would have lost 78 per cent.
Prohibiting political contributions from corporations should be automatic— democracy is for citizens, not organizations—yet in this country only Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, the City of Toronto and the federal government do so.
And it won't happen in Alberta soon. For obvious reasons, the Conservative government opposes the idea. House Leader Dave Hancock insists that campaign contributions don't come with expectations of favours. The Conservatives also intend to keep the individual contribution limit at the remarkably generous level of $30,000. Wildrose advocates reducing it to $10,000, still much too high but at least in the right direction. The federal limit is $1,000.
The fact that Wildrose, judging by the 2012 election figures, would benefit most from the ban on corporate and union contributions suggests their position isn't entirely altruistic. Nonetheless, they have done the right thing, and for that I salute them.