NDP MLAs on the Ethics and Accountability Committee have voted in favour of a motion from Edmonton-Ellerslie MLA Rod Loyola that would see fifty percent of party and candidate expenses subsidized during election campaigns. Opposition MLAs spoke out against the motion almost immediately.
“The very last concern of people in my riding and across Alberta is how to further use tax dollars to finance political parties and election campaigns,” said Wildrose house leader Nathan Cooper in a statement.
PC Richard Starke took to Twitter to call the move, “stunning.” Alberta party leader Greg Clark said, “Yikes. I want to see less tax money in politics, not more,” on his Twitter account.
“We estimate taxpayers could shell out over $9 million in cash to political parties and politicians in the next election,” Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta director Paige MacPherson said. “Of course some opposition MLAs would benefit from that as well so it is great to see some of those MLAs are opposing this move.” She said she selected at random one Edmonton, Calgary and rural riding to base her calculations on.
The CTF did some number crunching on the money, which would cover half of expenses for those parties that garner more than ten percent of votes. MacPherson said in Edmonton-Ellerslie, NDP MLA Rod Loyola, who introduced the motion, would have received a taxpayer kickback of $11,095.69. PC candidate Harman Kandola would have received $59,595.13, and Wildrose candidate Jacqueline Lovely would have received $24,666.52.
“It really shows questionable priorities on behalf of the government, because with a $14 billion deficit, to prioritize giving money to stuff the coffers of political parties for partisan election campaign, I think that’s certainly a questionable move and I think Alberta taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to pay for partisan campaigns during elections.”
“We’re telling our members as well to tell your MLA to reject this taxpayer subsidy,” MacPherson said in an interview. “It was something that we had warned about in October. We had expected something like this might happen, so now that this day has come we’re asking for MLAs to wholeheartedly reject it. It’s not fair to expect taxpayers to pay for shrill partisan attack ads and junk mail from political parties.”
The motion from the Ethics and Accountability Committee will be voted on in the house this fall.