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Wednesday, 24 June 2015 11:23

Bill 1 a good start for the NDP gov’t

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Alberta’s New Democrats hope to level the playing field for political parties in Alberta with Bill 1.

Introduced in the legislature this month, the Act to Renew Democracy is about putting Albertans first — at least that’s the spin from the NDP.
The legislation will ban corporate and union donations to political parties. According to the news release, only residents of the province will be able to contribute to a candidate, constituency association, political party or leadership contestant.
This is a bill that is a long time coming. After almost 44 years of political rule by the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, it was becoming more obvious to the everyday man, that the party was powered by big business.
The PC party coffers generally filled up easily thanks to political contributions from companies, especially those in the oil and gas sector. It is hard to claim to be non-partisan or for party officials not to play favourites when there is such a large percentage of their monetary livelihood coming from this sector. Heard the saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?”
This new bill will help level the playing field between all of the parties. Some have in the past had an easier time attracting donations from business, while others have relied upon donations from unions. The NDP falls into the latter category and, while one could argue this legislation hurts them also, in true ‘orange’ fashion they have chosen to do what is best for the greater good.
It should also be noted, where individuals choose to donate their money — and receive a tax benefit for doing so — should be up to each person, not a corporation or union. Individuals who work for these companies or unions making political donations, may have felt some pressure they could not disagree with those decisions or that a donation to a certain political party represented their own political views. That simply isn’t the case.
“This legislation — the first bill of this government — is about focusing Alberta’s political parties where they should be focused: on Albertans,” said  Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, in a news release about Bill 1. “We are doing this by renewing our province’s democracy. Once this legislation is in place, Albertans can be assured that political parties in this province are responsible to them — and only to them — as citizens.”
It should also be noted this isn’t precedent-setting in the country. The governments of Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, along with the federal government, have banned corporate and union donations to political parties/individuals.
As far as first bills go — this is a good one.
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor