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Analysis

Alberta Election: Corporate Money Flowed Out Of Right-Wing Parties, Into Right-Wing PACs, Experts Say

Corporate and right-wing advertisers seem to have significantly out-funded progressives

Nearly $1 million — much of it from large corporations banned from donating to parties themselves — supported Alberta’s key, four right-wing advertisers in the 2019 provincial election, data shows.

Alberta’s top four right-wing third-party advertisers reported raising $955,018 — outmatching the province’s top four progressive third-party advertisers, which reported only $595,675.

With corporate donations banned by Alberta’s previous government, Mount Royal university political science professor Kieth Brownsey told PressProgress, the uptick in third-party spending isn’t coincidental.

“It certainly appears that a lot more money is flowing into these third Party groups. You bring in election spending rules, that money’s going to find its own way, like water, and appear somewhere else.  It’s going to third parties,” he said.

And, Brownsey said, that money bought attention from would-be voters. “There are half a dozen of these groups out there, they’re always on your twitter feed. That costs money.”

Here’s a quick look at this past election’s biggest four right-wing advertisers:

Shaping Alberta’s Future:

Shaping Alberta’s Future raised more than any other advertiser, in the election — reporting $298,000.00.

Back in October 2018, a letter, drafted by the Motor Dealership of Alberta was leaked encouraging members to donate to the advertiser to support the UCP.

The letter reads “Elections Alberta allows for third party advertisers. There is no cap on the amount of contributions.”

Its top corporate donors include:

  • Surge Energy Inc. $75, 000
  • Crew Energy Inc. $30,000
  • La Crete Sawmills Ltd. $25,000

Merit Contractors Association

Coming in second is the anti-labour association, Merit.

Representing anti-union construction trades companies, Merit reported bringing in $292,586.

However, its only listed donor is itself — the Merit Contractors Association.

As PressProgress reported previously, Merit is a key supporter of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party and Ontario Proud — a key third-party supporter of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others.

Alberta Proud

Alberta Proud, with the support of the Manning Centre, is part of a Canada-wide network of conservative organizations that includes Ontario Strong, BC Strong, and Canada Strong.

It claimed $165,450.44.

Its top corporate donors, not including CEOs and board members, include:

  • Steinbock Development Corp $8,800
  • Prairie View Holdings $8,800
  • Calgary Park and Jet $8,800
  • Woodfield Holdings — $50000

Alberta Victory Fund

The Alberta Victory Fund was originally set up by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “closest friend and most trusted adviser”, John Weissenberger, to assist Kenney’s bid for UCP leader.  Elections Alberta filings list him as the advertiser’s main contact for the election.

Weissenberger told reporters the PAC was supposed to be shut down by the second quarter of 2018. But that didn’t happen.

This past election, the AVF pulled-in $159,000.

That includes a $20,000 donation from an anonymous, numbered corporation and six $10,000 donors tied for second.

They include:

  • Can-West Corporate Air Charters Ltd.
  • JWI Investments LP
  • CAN-WEST CORPORATE AIR CHARTERS LTD.
  • KidCo Construction
  • Morrison Homes
  • The Cedarglen Group Inc.
  • United Communities LP

Other Conservative PACs

In total, conservative and corporate lobbyist PACs raised well over a million dollars for the election — with a total of $1,037, 538.

Aside from the top four, that number includes smaller advertisers like:

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