A photo of Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley. Credit: Alberta NDP / Facebook Credit: Alberta NDP / Facebook

Albertans donated just over a million dollars to the New Democratic Party Opposition in the first quarter of 2022, according to contribution records released May 2 by Elections Alberta. 

Contributions of $1,037,511.32 placed the NDP well ahead of the governing United Conservative Party (UCP)’s fundraising total of $887,974.49 as reported by the provincial Legislature’s elections administration office.

But wait! The UCP says it actually raised more! 

“UCP beats NDP in Q1 fundraising,” the party asserted in a tweet claiming the party’s constituency associations had raised an additional $375,909 in the same period to give it a total of $1,263,883.

Now, this could very well be true. Last year, the UCP changed political contribution legislation so that constituency associations don’t have to report their donations till the end of the year. Since UCP constituency associations can collect their own donations and the NDP centralizes all donations and reports them together to Elections Alberta, this means we are talking apples and oranges – or, at least, murky Conservative books versus more transparent NDP accounts. 

Still, you have to agree it’s a weird flex to change a law so that you don’t have to report grey money pouring into your party’s coffers, and then to complain about the Opposition party boasting it reported more contributions than you did. 

But, hey, this is Alberta. Nothing should shock anyone. 

“We’re proud to be reporting 100 per cent of our donations for the quarter, and we are the only major party to be doing so,” said the NDP’s Provincial Secretary, Brandon Stevens, adding, “it’s clear that Albertans recognize we’re in the home stretch to the election.”

“The UCP claimed their volunteers aren’t capable of quarterly reports to Elections Alberta, but now they claim they are capable of quarterly reports to party headquarters,” Stevens remarked in a news release. “Albertans can’t trust the UCP to self-report their own fundraising numbers given their long track record of dishonesty.”

Be that as it may, last year the NDP raised $6.2 million compared to $3.8 million for the UCP, which may account for the UCP’s apparently urgent need to redefine the fundraising contest so that it can claim a victory.  

The breakdown of the reported funds shows the NDP received a higher percentage of small donations under $250 than the UCP – 63 per cent compared to nearly 50 per cent for the UCP. Of course, we don’t know the makeup of the constituency donations claimed by the UCP or the corporate funds that have flowed into conservative-leaning political action committees.

Once again, as noted in May 5’s commentary on the leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected decision on abortion rights, the third-largest recipient of political contributions according to Elections Alberta was the single-issue political party devoted exclusively to ending access to abortions in Alberta. 

The Pro-life Alberta Political Association received donations of $67,563.93. While significant, however, this suggests two things: First, that PAPA exists mainly to circumvent election spending laws and keep the pressure on UCP politicians to toe the line on its issue, and second that, for the time being at least, Alberta politics remains a two-party contest. 

The other registered parties that received contributions in the quarter posted the following totals:

Alberta Party: $29,006.45

Alberta Liberal Party: $19,667

Wildrose Independence Party: $14,205.00

Green Party of Alberta: $1,920.00

Independence Party of Alberta: $390.00

Advantage Party of Alberta: $310.00

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...