Gateway Gazette

New Legislation Strengthens Democracy in Alberta

Now that the Fair Elections Financing Act has been given royal assent, Alberta is moving forward with a fair, democratic and modern electoral system.
Heather Sweet, Deputy Chair of Committees; Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal; Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta; Shannon Dean, Law Clerk and Director of House Services
Heather Sweet, Deputy Chair of Committees; Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal; The Honourable Catherine A. Fraser, Chief Justice of Alberta; Shannon Dean, Law Clerk and Director of House Services

The Fair Elections Financing Act limits the influence of big money on election outcomes by lowering the cap on political donations to $4,000 per individual contributor per year. Previously, individuals were able to give $15,000 to a political party each calendar year, and that doubled to $30,000 in an election year.

“Alberta’s laws will now lead the country in limiting the influence of big money on elections. With this legislation, we are putting an end to loopholes and backroom deals for well-connected friends and insiders of political parties. This act helps ensure a transparent, level playing field for all parties and candidates.”

Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal

 

Alberta now has campaign spending limits for the first time. For political parties, the limit is $2 million and in each electoral division there is a combined spending limit of $50,000 for each candidate. Spending limits encourage candidates and parties to rely on ideas – rather than on large campaign budgets – to earn the support of voters.

As happens at the federal level, nomination contestants will be subject to a spending limit of 20 per cent of their electoral division. They will also be required to register and report to the Chief Electoral Officer, providing important transparency for Albertans.

During the writ period, third-party advertisers – including unions, corporations or individuals – may not spend more than $150,000 on election advertising. No more than $3,000 may be used in a particular electoral division.

Between elections, third parties must register with Elections Alberta and disclose contributions on a “sunshine list” if they plan to spend $1,000 on political advertising. They must also identify themselves in their advertisements.

Amendments made to the act as it went through the legislative assembly include auditing provisions for leadership contestants and clarification on third-party advertising rules.

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