rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Why Alberta car dealers want to unseat the NDP

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Many Albertans were shocked to learn last week that Opposition Leader Jason Kenney had promised an auto dealers association that, if elected, he would hand enforcement of vehicle sale consumer protection back to the dealers. This association has been pouring money into a political action committee supporting his United Conservative Party.

Twenty-six Alberta car and truck dealerships are reported to have donated at least $175,000 to groups that support Kenney's United Conservative Party in the past three months.

To many, the promises by Kenney outlined in a memorandum, pledging $100,000 for the Shaping Alberta's Future PAC and seeking more donations from members of the Motor Dealers Association of Alberta, seemed like a transparent case of a political party pledging to deliver policy demanded by an industry in return for its financial support -- in a way, moreover, that was designed to skirt Alberta’s election financing laws.

Meanwhile, on Halloween, new rules for vehicle sales will take effect province-wide that will, as the government put it in a news release on Thursday, "protect Albertans and improve business accountability."

"These new rules can give Albertans confidence that they won't be hit with unexpected costs because they will know exactly what they’re paying for" when they buy a vehicle, Service Alberta Minister Brian Malkinson said in the government's news release.

"More transparency is good for consumers and it's good for Alberta's many trustworthy auto businesses, too," he added optimistically.

Among the changes scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday will be the transition of the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council, the toothless body the industry set up to police itself and investigate consumer complaints, into a public agency.

This, and a little bit of recent history, likely explain the hostility of the Motor Dealers Association to the NDP Government led by Premier Rachel Notley, not to mention its willingness to pay big money through a legally questionable scheme to unseat the New Democrats and bring the industry regulator back in-house.

The backstory to Kenney's promise began in 2014, shortly before Albertans elected Notley's party, when Service Alberta investigators started looking into the affairs of the AMVIC and discovered a dysfunctional organization failing to serve the public it was supposedly set up to protect from ethically challenged car dealers and auto repair shops.

Things had gotten into such a state, the Service Alberta officials concluded in a report obtained by the CBC in April 2015, that "the government's reputation is … potentially at risk because AMVIC is a delegated administrative organization accountable to the Minister of Service Alberta."

In another story, the CBC quoted the Service Alberta review as saying AMVIC's executive director "acts as a tyrant and dictator who interprets any question of decision, direction or process as disobedience and responds with intimidation, veiled threats of firing, or general bullying and belittling."

A summary of the same review, the CBC reported, detailed "interference in investigations" by the director. "'The large majority of investigators indicated that they are frequently provided direction either directly or implied, as to how to proceed with an investigation,' the review found," said the CBC stated.

The 2015 election campaign was nearing its end when the CBC stories broke, and Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean was quoted calling for a compete audit and overhaul of AMVIC.

After the election, the new NDP government followed through on that suggestion, and the result was the A Better Deal for Consumers and Businesses Act, passed by the Legislature in December 2017. In addition to the change in AMVIC's status, the Act includes new rules to:

  • Inform buyers of a vehicle's previous use, ownership and details of damages
  • Provide a comprehensive bill of sale at the time of sale
  • Remove any outstanding liens on a vehicle within seven days of sale
  • Remove advertising about already sold vehicles within 14 days of sale to thwart bait-and-switch sales tactics

Meanwhile, last week, internationally known elections expert Lorne Gibson was sworn in as Alberta's first Elections Commissioner, with responsibility for investigating complaints and enforcing the Election Act and Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.

That will be just in time to investigate the complaint by the NDP's provincial secretary that Shaping Alberta’s Future and the Motor Dealers Association are operating in open defiance of Alberta’s election financing laws.

And on Thursday, a United Conservative Party nomination candidate in Red Deer dropped out after being fined and reprimanded the day before by the Office of the Elections Commissioner for talking an illegal donation from a local car dealer.

Haley Wile "was found to have violated section 35(1)(a) of the Act when she accepted an illegal contribution from Red Deer Motors," a letter from the Elections Commissioner stated. "Further Red Deer Motors was found to have violated sections 15.1 and 16 of the Act as corporations are strictly prohibited from contributing to any political campaigns in Alberta."

Officials said the details of the infractions would not be made public.

The Fall Session of the Alberta Legislature will commence on Monday.

Wildlife corridor to be named for Jim Prentice

The NDP-led Alberta Government's role in honouring the legacy of rival leader Jim Prentice, the last Progressive Conservative premier of Alberta, is a positive example of generous non-partisanship.

"Jim Prentice loved Alberta," Premier Rachel Notley said in a statement yesterday. "In the true spirit and commitment of public service, he worked tirelessly to protect it for the people of this province."

The government will contribute $1 million to the Nature Conservancy of Canada's effort to preserve an important wildlife passage in the Crowsnest Pass area of Southern Alberta, which will be known as "the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor." The five-kilometre-wide passage will run from Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park, both created in 2017, to Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park to the south.

"All Albertans will benefit from this beautiful natural space, forever protected in his name," Premier Notley said. "I would like to thank the Prentice family, the NCC and the generous Alberta landowners who are supporting this conservation campaign by contributing their land. Albertans can be proud of this campaign."

"During his time as federal environment minister, Jim Prentice oversaw the largest expansion of the national parks system since it was founded in 1911," said Environment Minister Shannon Phillips. "He knew how vital our wild spaces are, and naming the wildlife corridor after him is a fitting tribute to a man who truly loved and respected nature."

Prentice died in the crash of a small aircraft on Oct. 13, 2016.

Image: David Climenhaga.

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.