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Tuesday, the Wildrose asked Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler to investigate Rachel Notley’s role at a big-ticket Ontario NDP fundraiser last week that solicited donations from blue-chip multinational companies, some of whom do business in Alberta.
Jason Nixon, the Wildrose critic for democratic accountability, said that event in Toronto, hosted by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, cost almost $10,000 a ticket, and he said it, too, raises questions around impartiality and the selling of access.
“Alberta companies who cannot donate to the NDP in Alberta can pay 10 grand in Ontario to get special face-to-face interaction,” said Nixon.
“It is unseemly and it is unethical.”
In Alberta, corporations and unions are banned from donating to political parties under legislation passed by Notley’s government last spring.
Notley said she also cleared that event beforehand with Trussler.
“I’m the leader of Alberta’s NDP. Andrea Horwath is the leader of Ontario’s NDP,” Notley told a legislature news conference.
“It’s not uncommon for certain sections of the party to ask leaders of other sections to come along to events to attract people.
“Andrea’s a friend of mine,” she added. “She asked me to do (this). I said, ’You know, I can probably give you one event in a year’ … and she invited me to come out to this.
“I actually don’t think there’s an issue here.”
She said the Ontario NDP paid for her trip and kept all donation money raised.
Advertising for the event at the Royal York hotel was low-key. The fundraiser was billed on tickets as an evening with Horwath, whose party sits third in the Ontario legislature.
Karla Webber-Gallagher, provincial secretary for the Ontario NDP, said donors were eventually notified that Notley would be attending.
Legislature reporters in Alberta were told by Notley’s office she was going to Toronto to accept an award.
Webber-Gallagher, in an email exchange, said the “intimate dinner” was with 20 donors.
Webber-Gallagher initially declined to name those who attended.
However, as Notley faced repeated questions in a news conference over whom she met with, the Ontario NDP released to Notley’s office a list of those at the table.
They were: the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Labatt Canada, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, the Society of Energy Professionals, United Association, USW National, Teranet Inc., Borealis Infrastructure, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, General Electric and Eli Lilly Canada.
Nixon said the Toronto fundraiser reflects poorly on a premier who has fought to remove corporate influence in Alberta politics.
“(And) given the fact that all NDP parties across the country are under the same banner, we have to wonder if money or volunteer labour is being kicked back to the Alberta NDP,” Nixon said.
offs its relentles.