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Donations to Alberta's NDP plummet in most recent fiscal update

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Donations to Alberta's NDP plummet in most recent fiscal update

The province's new director of the non-partisan public affairs bureau donated $2,500 to the Alberta NDP, according to Elections Alberta. Ed Kaiser / Edmonton Journal

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Alberta’s NDP stopped asking for donations in the last fiscal quarter, compounding a sharp decrease in political giving as new rules kicked in stopping corporate donations.

The New Democratic Party took in $82,746 in donations between July 1 and Sept. 30 this year, less than half the $269,730 in donations they saw from April through June. Starting June 15, donations from unions and corporations were banned under the new NDP-introduced Bill 1, An Act to Renew Democracy.

“The last 12 months or so have been the best and most successful fundraising period we’ve ever had and after the spring election and now there’s a federal election, we frankly thought that Albertans deserved a break from being asked for donations,” said Amanda Freistadt, acting provincial secretary for the Alberta NDP. “We do expect our fundraising efforts will ramp up in the coming weeks.”

In comparison, the Wildrose Party raised $263,676 in the third quarter, of which $208,851 came in individual donations of $250 or less. That’s compared to the $269,356 collected in the last update from the Wildrose.

“It shows that we have a strong base of supporters,” said Jeremy Nixon, Wildrose’s executive director. Nixon said the federal election likely drew some money away as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper sought support from a similar base.

“Obviously with the loss of corporate giving, that will have an impact on overall donations, but the Wildrose remains strong because we have a very strong base here in Alberta,” Nixon said.

The new rule — plus the Tories’ plummeting trajectory after the spring election — appears to have also hit the provincial PCs, whose party managed to raise $15,576, according to figures reported by Elections Alberta. That’s less than the Alberta Liberals, who raised $29,901. The Liberals have one sitting MLA compared to nine sitting PC members.

“It’s obviously not good from our end,” said interim PC leader Ric McIver, who said the party spent more time after the election getting its house in order — slashing expenditures, making payment arrangements with creditors — than fundraising. “The NDP (brought in the new legislation) for political purposes to injure us and I guess I’ll give them credit for being successful in bringing in legislation to injure their political foes.”

McIver said his party voted in favour of the legislation as long as a review was done to make sure it was fair and balanced.

“It hasn’t happened yet. The fact is, there is still time to do that,” he said. McIver said the Tories must now appeal straight to members rather than business owners.

“I guess we were fishing where the fish are and we had pretty good success with corporate Alberta,” he said. “We’ll follow the rules whatever the rules are. “

Each party must report its donation finances to Elections Alberta each fiscal quarter, including the names of those giving more than $250.

Mark Wells, the province’s new director of the non-partisan public affairs bureau, donated $2,500 to the Alberta NDPs.

Wells became managing director of the apolitical public affairs bureau in late September, a move the opposition party called a “hypocritical acceleration of the politicization of the public service.” Wells previously worked as a former senior communications adviser to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, and once served as the Alberta NDP’s communications director.

Cheryl Oates, press secretary for Premier Rachel Notley, said Wells was chosen for the job because of his experience and qualifications.

“Mark Wells retains his democratic right to vote and donate to the political party of his choosing,” Oates said in a statement.

Only Ian MacGregor, president and CEO of North West Upgrading, gave a larger personal donation of $5,000. NDP MLA’s Irfan Sabir and David Shepherd also donated $1,500 each.

Before the new rule kicked in, the New Democratic Party raised $17,500 from eight unions and $7,500 from three corporations at the last quarterly fiscal update.

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