Conservatives had financial advantage in campaign

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Elections Alberta financial disclosures shows PCs had big financial lead going into campaign

Local Progressive Conservative candidates started this election year with a hefty financial advantage, according to the latest documentation from Elections Alberta.

The financial disclosure statements for 2011 were posted online last week and show the St. Albert Conservatives started the year with a big financial advantage over their rivals.

At the end of 2011, just as a new PC candidate was being selected, the party had $56,590 in the bank ready to fight an election. Doug Horner’s Spruce Grove-St. Albert riding association also had a significant war chest with $43,824 ready for this year.

Other campaigns had nowhere near that level of reserves. In Spruce Grove-St. Albert the Liberal riding association had $2,024 in the bank, the NDP riding association had nothing saved and the Wildrose association had $1,994 ready for the election.

The St. Albert riding paints a similar picture with the Liberal association carrying $2,705 and the Alberta Party having $2,069. The NDP campaign again started the year with an empty bank account locally. According to Elections Alberta the Wildrose return was still being finalized and was not yet available online.

The returns show only where the parties stood financially at the end of 2011. It does not include money raised in 2012 or money raised during the election campaign.

St. Albert PC candidate and now incoming MLA Stephen Khan said the financial resources he had to fight the campaign all come from the work of his local volunteers.

“Our board has remarkable resolve that way and is very committed to fundraising and to make sure that we have the resources to run a campaign.”

Khan said his advantage going into the campaign was based on hard work at fundraising and any political party could have raised the same amounts.

“All the other campaigns functioned under the same rules as we did.”

Spruce Grove Liberal candidate Chris Austin said he did feel he had a financial disadvantage in the race and said he hopes to move toward levelling the playing field over the next few years.

“I think that is because we have to work at making the constituency association stronger.”

Austin said he would like to see a cap for election related spending imposed on provincial campaigns as there are in federal elections.

“It would level the playing field if it were capped at a certain limit,” he said.

Khan said limits aren’t really as important as a transparent financial system that shows people where the money is coming from, which he said the Alberta system does well.

“There needs to be transparency and I think we have good transparency rules.”

Financial reports regarding the campaign are due to Elections Alberta four months after election day and are also posted online once they are made available.

The election disclosure also requires constituency associations to reveal any donor who gave more than $375 to the party. For the St. Albert Conservatives, that included several building and contracting firms, as well as MP Brent Rathgeber, former MLA Mary O’Neill and former nomination contender Jeff Wedman.

Horner’s constituency association also received several donations from building and construction firms, engineering companies as well as local developer Landrex and the St. Albert Inn.

Political dollars

St. Albert constituency
Progressive Conservative: $56,590
Liberal: $2,705
Alberta Party: $2,069
NDP: $0
Wildrose: Not available

Spruce Grove – St. Albert constituency
Progressive Conservative: $43,824
Liberal: $2,024
Wildrose: $1,994
NDP: $0

Source: Elections Alberta financial disclosure statements for 2011

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