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Friday, October 06, 2006

trade unions buying tory memberships. backdoor fundraising?

This irked me... and it should probably irk the over 48,000 union members who are part of the Council.

The Alberta Building Trades Council has announced that it will be buying and selling 10,000 Alberta PC memberships for Dr. Lyle Oberg.

Assuming that by buying these memberships through a leadership camp, these organizations are only paying $5 per membership (some Alberta PC leadership camps are charging $10 per membership in order to buy a "special card" - translation: %50 donation to the leadership campaign) this money will eventually make it's way in to the coffers of the Alberta PC campaign war chest... why doesn't this bump into some sort of political contribution law?

Here are two examples:

Alberta Building Trades Council - buying 10,000 Alberta PC membership.
10,000 memberships x $5 = $50,000 political donation
10,000 memberships x $10 = $100,000 political donation (50% to the Oberg leadership campaign)

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades - plans to "give away" 2,000 Alberta PC memberships.
2,000 memberships x $5 = $10,000 political donation
2,000 memberships x $10 = $20,000 political donation (50% to a leadership campaign)

There are no laws or any sort of rules regarding what internal-partisan leadership campaigns can raise, but this must bump up in to regular Elections Alberta political contribution limits (which I believe are $15,000 annually outside election periods and $30,000 in election periods).
If not, isn't this simply a backdoor for political fundraising?

Regardless of whether this is happening in the Alberta PC’s, the Alberta Liberals, the Alberta Alliance, or the Alberta NDP - Alberta needs stronger laws regarding how political parties and leadership candidates raise money.

Don't Albertans deserve accountability and transparency?

Don't Albertans deserve to know who is lining political pockets and coffers in their province?

24 comments:

tim said...

Great point, Dave.

These organizations are justifying these purchases by saying that they just want to participate "in the only real election" in Alberta, but they are really outright endorsing a partisan political special interest by donating a wackload of money to them.

The members of the Trades Council should be outraged! As well, so should the members of the Alberta Teachers' ASsociation - who have urged their membership to buy in to the tory party and participate in the $5 democracy.

Anonymous said...

Considering PC Party members regularily vote to deregister unions as PC policy at their conventions, I'm surprised that the union leadership would even think about doing this.

fragmunt said...

Daveberta - I would think the best thing that could happen to Alberta would be to have Lyle Oberg take over the PC helm.

Gauntlet said...

Just another example of how this province has become a one-party state. The union leaders can't work with the NDP, or the Liberals. And it's not the fault of the parties. It's the fault of the people in Alberta who don't give a damn about political corruption unless it's in Ottawa.

Werner Patels said...

I am totally disgusted. I have commented on this here

http://www.wernerpatels.com/musings/2006/10/albertan_freefo.html

and

http://www.wernerpatels.com/musings/2006/10/something_rotte.html

A_Resident said...

I am so NOT surprised by this. They unions have failed so many times to get their foot in the door in Alberta.

I wish I could tell you about a conversation I had with a union rep about this, but it would give me away, and I still need my job. :)

A_Resident said...

"the unions" I never check for typos, sorry.

I might as well add that the union doesn't seem to support the people who pay their dues anymore. Lots of talk, not a lot of action. Kind of like our politicians...

Ken Chapman said...

YO ar right - there needs to be some financial disclosure rules for party leadership contests. Abuses are unlikely but why do we have to "trust" when we should be able to verify.

I have no problem with special interest groups organizing in their own best interest in the 1 person 1 vote format...they do it in delegated convention model as well. Just retail politics at its best.

Putting pressure on people or strong arm tactics as top down "direction" on citizens by union bosses or others is wrong.

No guarantee it will work though. I have heard that in some local Liberal ridings the turnout for delegate selection last week end as low as about 20% of "members." NO strong arm union boss doing the "nudge-nudge wink-wink" to members. IN the Liberal model one presumes some eager delegate had motivation to get their supporters out. Pretty dismal showing and without any over or covert intimidation or "direction."

You can't buy voter conviction and engagement - you have to earn it.

Oberg is that kind of guy to try and bring "special influence" to bear in his own best interest from my experience. Just ask teachers or social services people or municipalties or school boards - and the list goes on

Anonymous said...

"Steve Patten, a political science professor at the U of A, wondered if union support will even help the Oberg campaign. First, he said such campaigns are notoriously difficult to co-ordinate. Second, unions don't always support the people their executive wants them to.

"Unions don't vote, in the majority, for the New Democrats, even if the union leadership has been involved in the New Democratic Party," he said.

The Alberta Teachers' Association and the Alberta Medical Association also urge their members to buy Tory memberships and vote on Nov. 25.

Patten and Mason both lamented the state of Alberta's democracy if these groups feel their only way to be involved in politics is through the conservative party.

"It's really unfortunate," Patten said. "Because politics that matter should be in the Alliance, the New Democrats, the Liberals, the Conservatives -- it should be in all the parties that are competing."
"


From today's Edmonton Journal...

Anonymous said...

"this money will eventually make it's way in to the coffers of the Alberta PC campaign war chest... "

Actually it's going to pay for the costs of the Leadership Race itself. No worries though, as the PC Party already has the warchest needed to run another election, perhaps even two.

That's what happens when you actually have supporters.

eugene plawiuk said...

Actually the irony is that the Building Trades, are affiliated with the Liberals provincially and federally. As is the ATA. Say Dave aren't you a Liberal. Anyways see my article on this Gomperism

Can you say democratic deficit..that is the real problem. But since this is a one party state what do expect folks to do but try and influence the election of our next Great Leader.

And maybe get more construction work....

Alex said...

some Alberta PC leadership camps are charging $10 per membership in order to buy a "special card" - translation: %50 donation to the leadership campaign

As far as I can tell, Dave Hancock is the only candidate who is doing this. I just checked his website, as well as those of Dinning, Morton, Norris, Stelmach, and Oberg, and the rest of them don't force you to pay anything on top of the $5 membership fee to sign up through their site.

Anonymous said...

"Actually it's going to pay for the costs of the Leadership Race itself. No worries though, as the PC Party already has the warchest needed to run another election, perhaps even two.

That's what happens when you actually have supporters. "

No, that's what happens when there are pathetically lax political contribution laws.

jon said...

Let me get this straight - the PC Party of Alberta is letting leadership candidates wholesale thousands of memberships to outside organizations?

What a corrupt and undemocratic process.

I will never understand why Albertans don't see how much of a raw deal they are getting.

Anonymous said...

That's sad. I wonder how many of the 10000 union members will actually get out and vote in the next election.

Anonymous said...

What is Mason talking about? Union members aren't even represented in the NDP caucus of 4.

The Strongest Union representation in the Legislature is from the Liberals - led by Edmonton Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald. Hes's been the strongest voice for workers since being elected in 1997. Go Hugh!

Anonymous said...

I am no great fan of Oberg, but if there is a moral void here it is on the part of the unions. Bulk buying memberships, telling their members how to vote, trying to influence internal party politics in a party they don't support... it's questionable to the extreme.

You don't see oil companies or Conservatives purchasing federal Liberal memberships en masse trying to hijack their leadership race.

Oberg is no angel, but it's the left-wing union heads who are corrupt and acting unethically here.

eugene plawiuk said...

"You don't see oil companies or Conservatives purchasing federal Liberal memberships en masse trying to hijack their leadership race."

Yes you did...until the feds changed the law....

Anonymous said...

Re:"What is Mason talking about? Union members aren't even represented in the NDP caucus of 4."

David Eggin is a member of the ATA. Brian Mason was a member of the ATU before entering politics. That's as much union involvement as Hugh MacDonald.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to back that up?

Anonymous said...

Above challenge is for Eugene.

chris said...

Talk about a betrayal of your membership. the very Unions that the Tories would love to destroy are giving the Tories thousands of dollars.

Short sighted and stupid move.

Anonymous said...

You think we would be having this conversation if the unions threw their support to Dinning? ... something he has met with them and asked for several times that I could document.

Anonymous said...

Save your money to pay for an independent audit of this PC government, so we can send as many or more PC Conservatives to jail as Sask did when they got rid of their corrupt Conservative Party....some Sask PC MLA's are still in jail, others are pending sentencing......Screw Conservatives, Provincially or Federally.