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Thursday, January 11, 2007

stelmach backs off exclusive fundraiser.

That was fast.

Within a matter of hours, Premier Ed Stelmach's PC Party both announced and cancelled an exclusive $5,000 a ticket fundraiser that would have allowed those with deep pockets to buy exclusive access to Stelmach and his top Ministers. This obviously clashes with Stelmach's finely-tuned image as a down-to-earth farmer from the Village of Andrew. Something makes me think that Stelmach's constituents in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville would be less than impressed with the idea of an $5,000 exclusive fundraiser...

The morning began with:

For $5,000, Albertans can have exclusive chat with Stelmach
Jason Fekete, CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007

CALGARY - Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and two top ministers came under fire Wednesday after revelations that fundraising soirees will be held next week in Calgary and Edmonton allowing Albertans to buy ''exclusive'' access to them for a minimum $5,000.

Even Alberta's ethics commissioner said he's ''not so sure it's a good thing to do,'' but conceded there's little that can be done under current legislation.

In an effort to pay off leadership campaign debts, organizers for Stelmach, provincial Health Minister Dave Hancock, provincial Finance Minister Lyle Oberg and former MLA Mark Norris - all of whom sought to succeed former premier Ralph Klein - are holding a $500-a-ticket reception in Calgary on Jan. 18.

However, there's an opportunity to attend ''a smaller, more exclusive event'' with Stelmach and ministers prior to the reception ''for a minimum donation of $5,000,'' notes the invitation to shindig.

Cheques are payable to ''True Blue,'' which appears to be an entity formed to raise money for the four politicians, who teamed up on the second ballot of the Progressive Conservative leadership election to topple favourites Jim Dinning and Ted Morton. No tax receipts will be issued on the tickets.
and this afternoon ended with:
STELMACH CANCELS $5000 Receptions
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has cancelled two receptions where people were offered exclusive access to the new premier and his ministers for a minimum $5,000 donation to help erase Tory leadership campaign debts.

The premier held a news conference to say he was on holidays last week in Mexico and wasn’t fully aware of the details of the fundraising events planned for next week in Edmonton and Calgary.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Bad optics. But a smaller, more exclusive reception is still a reception. It is not like he is taking one-on-one meetings.

But it did give Taft and Mason a day or two of fodder. Interesting how both men did not speak up in support of Stelmach when he rightly nixed a potential promotion for this son.

In a similar vien, how is Dion (and the other federal Leaderships contenders) going to pay off their campaign debts? Foregiveable loan from PowerCorp?

docsanchez said...

There is nothing wrong with what they are doing but John Larsen should never have said it was a venue to "make [the premier and ministers] aware of your key issues." That implies if you don't attend your issues will not be heard.

BTW in this story it is implied Joan Forge "says the premier is fully aware of all the details surrounding the fundraising events.". Yet in the article cited above he says he wasn't. Communications people! Let's get our story straight.

And why the hell did Stelmach say he canceled the event earlier this week but the invites just went out yesterday?

Anonymous said...

The entire event wasn't cancelled, only the $5000/ticket part. the $500 per ticket fundraiser is business as usual for the Tories

Anonymous said...

Mason DID stand up for Stelmach when he nixed his son's promossion. I believe his quote in the paper was, "he did the right thing."

Chris Young said...

This strikes me as sensationalism. Politicians fundraising? Gadzooks!

Of course, Dion and Kennedy have been holding expensive fundraising events to pay back their loans as well.

Anonymous said...

"This is very black and white. This is about open, accountable government or about secret, cynical government. I'm really disappointed that Ed Stelmach has chosen secrecy and cynicism," said provincial Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

eugene plawiuk said...

Wow that was fast, now we can call him Fast Eddie. First kaboshing his sons promotion, now this. But it is still dependent on the autarch, so when will we see some legislation over this. Once again the Tory party thinks the government is its private slush fund.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 4:44:51 PM,

Hi Mr. Taft,
Don't you have work to do?

Since you are on-line, how exactly are you fundraising? Lottery tickets?

I'm interested in the comments of those that would have alternatives to the current system. Is running for the leadership of a political party open only to the very wealthy? I'm sure Dion is in the same boat money-wise, and I am sure Taft does not host dinners for free (assuming that there are buyers).

Anonymous said...

You're right. Mason did say Stelmach did the right thing when he nixed the offer of a promotion for his son.

Then again, Mason also effectively insulted all people living outside of the major cities when he said that the Stelmach cabinet is a bunch of hillbillies. And what exactly did you do for a living before getting into politics Mr. Mason? Maybe you should go back to driving a bus. You'll get farther (pun totally intended).

Jim said...

While I couldn't be certain, I highly doubt that Mason used the term "hillbillies". If he was criticizing the current cabinet for not representing Edmonton & Calgary enough, he might have a fair point. Of course, you might interpret that as a slam against the good ol' non-urban folk.

donald said...

From the CBC story:

"An e-mail from John Larsen, former campaign manager for Lyle Oberg

"...Today I wanted to let all of you know, if you haven't already heard through other channels, that there will be a great opportunity for you and your associates to meet our new Premier, the Honourable Ed Stelmach, and some of his Ministers, here in Calgary on the evening of January 18th, 2007.

A reception will be held in Ranahan's in the Grandstand at Stampede Park from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Tickets to the reception are $500.00 per person. There is also an opportunity to attend a smaller, more exclusive event prior to the above event for a minimum donation of $5,000.00 (which also provides admission for two.)

Both events will offer you and your colleagues an excellent opportunity to spend time with the new Premier, and Ministers, to discuss the issues the new Government will face in the run-up to the next election and make them aware of your key issues. The purpose of this event is to help retire the campaign debts of Premier Stelmach, Ministers Hancock and Oberg, and Mr. Mark Norris. As such, although no tax receipts can be issued for this event, in the appropriate circumstances it can certainly be considered a business expense..."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:55:14 PM

Dear Premier Stelmach,

One would think that you would have your hands full running the government and that you wouldn't have a lot of time to surf the internet. Keep up the good work with the anonymous blog posts, Eddie! I'm sure the voters in your riding approve!


michael in calgary said...

Tory MLA's have began jumping ship!

Tory MLA Lukaszuk may quit to run in next federal election
Two-term backbencher pressured to contest seat held by John Williams

Jason Markusoff, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2007

EDMONTON - One of Edmonton's three Progressive Conservative MLAs is tempted to quit provincial politics and run as a federal Conservative in the next election.

Thomas Lukaszuk, the Edmonton-Castle Downs MLA, said he will likely decide this weekend whether he will seek the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-St. Albert, whose veteran MP John Williams is retiring.

The second-term backbencher said he's been pressured recently by some local organizers to join what's already a five-way race that includes former MP Scott Thorkelson and former MLA Brent Rathgeber -- Lukaszuk's old legislature seatmate.

Anonymous said...

So now that we've heard that Klein will step down on Jan 15th, as will Shirley M... and others such as Thomas Luk, Gene Zwoz, and Gary Mar are also said to be thinking of leaving.

How many vacant seats would the new premier feel comfortable with? What would needing to have several by-elections due to his image? Will resignations of a certain # of Klein-era MLAs force Steady Eddie into a spring 07 general election?

No party spin here, just wanting everyones' actual thoughts as to what these vacancies may cause?

docsanchez said...

Does anyone have a map of where these vacancies may be? Reading the list they mostly seem urban.

If Stelmach holds by-elections comments from an earlier topic about the Tories possibly being in jeopardy of losing urban seats may come into play.

At the same time if Stemlach can hold those ridings it should be smooth sailing and the critics can shut their pie holes for a while.

It would be the first TRUE test of his leadership.

Art said...

Let's not forget that Kevin Taft himself held a $3,000/plate dinner in 2006 for Toronto businesspeople. His protests ring a little hollow.

bryan said...

It's not so much that Stelmach had a $5,000 a ticket fundraiser that bothered me as much as how fast he backed down and cancelled them the minute the media started talking about it.

Is this what an Ed Stelmach Premiership is going to look like? Is he going to flip flop and back down everytime he gets challenged?

Anonymous said...

Less than "Steady Eddie"

Backlash surprises fundraiser organizers
Jason Markusoff, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, January 12, 2007

The premier's office reported a handful of phone calls on the issue, saying most were demands to scrap the posh fundraisers, but a few callers wanted to buy tickets.

Stelmach campaigned for the Tory crown with a promise to set up registries of government lobbyists and contractors, to make government more transparent.

The leadership race itself operated without any rules about how much could be raised and spent or whether there should be any disclosure.

The premier has pledged to release his donor info, but will keep contributors anonymous if they so request.

Even some Tories were taken aback by the $5,000 offer for access to a small room with the premier and his ministers.

"There isn't any way to read that except: write a cheque and get the ear of somebody," said Sam Armstrong, campaign manager for Ted Morton, another candidate-turned-cabinet minister.

"This soon into a new premier's tenure for something like this to be launched -- there are some real difficulties, that's for sure."

Armstrong said the third-place Morton campaign ended with a small surplus.

NDP Leader Brian Mason asked the province's ethics commissioner Thursday to investigate whether Stelmach and others broke the Conflicts of Interest Act by devising the fundraiser idea.

Don Hamilton, the commissioner, has questioned the $5,000 fundraiser, but said legislation doesn't bar such activities.

"I expect a higher standard than that," Mason said of the premier.

"There's a real blind spot on the part of all the Conservatives -- leadership candidates and the party and the government -- around the whole question of transparency and fundraising for political purposes."

Anonymous said...

If I were some individuals employed directly or indirectly over at the the Calgary Health Region, I would be very careful next time to cover your tracks more thoroughly. Your involvement in this $5K story and how it got into the hands of the media is as transparent as a pane of clear glass

michael in calgary said...

the CHR is filled with Tory cronies. Look who the past chairs have been - Jack Davis, Jim Dinning. It's like the Senate, full of political patronage.