Over $80,000 traced to companies owned by Edmonton liquor baron and Calgary Budget Rent-a-Car owner
One of Alberta’s loudest third party advertisers received over half of its donations from nearly 20 different business entities controlled by just two businessmen.
Alberta Proud, which largely operates as a right-wing Facebook page, is connected to the same network of conservative Facebook pages known to share and amplify one another’s content, a family of pages that includes Ontario Proud and more recently Canada Proud.
But a closer look at the group’s election filings shows $86,000 of its donations were sourced from a constellation of business entities directly tied to two Alberta businessmen: Calgary’s Naim Ali and Edmonton’s John Mather.
John Mather is the chairman of New Star Capital, a private holding company that owns liquor stores, casinos, car washes, motor vehicle licensing registries and more.
Mather has some history in provincial politics. On his website biography, he credits himself with helping privatize Alberta’s liquor industry in 1993. He later set-up Alberta’s first private retail liquor chain — the Liquor Barn Group.
During the election, Elections Alberta records show companies controlled by New Star made 14 donations to Alberta Proud, ranging from $1,000 to $4,200 each.
“Liquor Town Parent Co. Ltd,” which is owned by New Star Capital, gave $4,250 to Alberta Proud. Two other Liquor Town franchises gave the group an extra $3,800: “Hometown Liquor Town” ($2,050) and “Park West Liquor Town” ($1,750).
The three Liquor Town entities gave a combined $7,000 to Alberta Proud.
Alberta Proud also received donations from New Star subsidiaries which are listed as numbered companies. “2072882 Alberta Ltd,” which gave $2,100 to Alberta Proud, is registered at the same address as a company run by Mather that provides motor vehicle and corporate registry searches.
Together, all donations to Alberta Proud from Mather’s various corporate entities amount to a total of $38,165:
- Windermere Registry: $4,250
- Strathcona Registry: $3,800
- 1615016 Alberta Ltd (Abbey Road Registries): $3,250
- 1597251 Alberta Ltd (Summerside Registry): $3,150
- 2072882 Alberta Ltd: $2,100
- Fort McMurray Vehicle Licensing & Registry Ltd: $3,750
- Fort McMurray Vehicle Licensing & Registry Ltd (Timberlea Registry): $3,650
- Green Depot Fort McMurray: $4,250
- Green Depot Banff: $2,000
- Green Depot Fort McMurray South Inc.: $2,750
- Liquor Town: $4,250
- 1224190 Alberta Ltd: $2,050
- 1260014 Alberta Ltd. (Park West Hinton Liquor Town): $1,750
Companies directed by Naim Ali, a former New York corporate lawyer and current President and CEO of Steinbock Development Corp, were also big donors to the right-wing Facebook page.
Corporate records obtained by PressProgress reveal five seemingly unrelated donors are, in fact, all connected through an entity called SM2 Holdings Ltd.
SM2 Holdings owns a used car dealership and Budget car rental location in Calgary. Naim Ali, along with family members Jamil, Shiraz and Mohamed Ali, are listed as the holding company’s directors.
Elections Alberta records show the five companies linked to SM2 Holdings gave Alberta Proud a total of $44,000:
- Calgary Park and Jet: $8,800
- Prairie View Holdings: $8,800
- Steinbock Development Corporations: $8,800
- 578919 Alberta Ltd: $8,800
- 578917 Alberta Ltd: $8,800
Neither Mather nor Ali responded to requests for comment from PressProgress about their use of multiple companies to make donations to Alberta Proud.
Questions to Alberta Proud seeking more information about their relationship with the businessmen also went unanswered.