Alberta Campaign Finance Laws

An interesting article in the Edmonton Journal, a reader e-mailed to me.

The Government there is planning to bring in laws to restrict third party campaigns. And it is a Conservative Government doing so. Why?

Albertans for Change was a union-backed effort that ran splashy election advertising attacking the Stelmach government’s record. The ominous voice accusing Stelmach of having “no pla-a-a-a-n” was easily the most recognizable refrain of the campaign.

The exact cost of the ads – which were supported by the Alberta Building Trades Council, the Alberta Federation of Labour, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta and the United Nurses of Alberta – has never been made fully clear, but estimates have pegged it at over $2 million, more than double the NDP and Liberal budgets combined.

Just like in Australia – the biggest spenders are the unions. And they spent twice as much as the two actual wing parties themselves.

So is the Government right to try and ban such a campaign? Well I note the campaign was unsucessful:

“It’s something that really piqued my curiosity during this last campaign, though I believe the strategy backfired on whoever came up with the idea,” Stelmach said of the campaign.

And the unions are not happy:

AFL President Gil McGowan accused Stelmach and the of trying to muzzle its opponents with the new laws.

“This is a disturbing development and it doesn’t bode well for democracy in this province,” McGowan said. “He’s just trying to shut down the voice of the labour movement as a voice of dissent on the left.”

Which is very bad. Shutting down chinless scarf wearers though is very good.

And with further comparisons to NZ:

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said the Albertans for Change ads may have actually hurt his party.
“We had nothing to do with that spending whatsoever,” Taft said. “And yet, on the doorsteps, we were often getting lectures about how ‘you guys are those terrible attack ads on Ed Stelmach.’ So we got dragged into it.”

Yes if a third party campaign spends too much money or is too aggressive, it often harms the party they are trying to support. You see voters have a degree of intelligence.

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