Alberta Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley.
Alberta Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley. Credit: Rachel Notley/Facebook

Alberta’s Opposition New Democratic Party led the United Conservative Party in fundraising for the third consecutive quarter of 2021, although not by the dramatic margins seen in the first two quarters.

This leaves Rachel Notley’s NDP far in the lead for year-to-date contributions from Albertans, but it contains a warning for the party’s supporters too. 

To wit, you can’t discount the effectiveness of the Conservative fundraising machine, even in desperate times like these for the party and its unpopular leader, Premier Jason Kenney. 

This is all the more true since the UCP has no shortage of deep-pocketed donors who can afford to fork over large donations. 

Only about 17 per cent of the cash raised by the right-wing governing party came from small donors who gave less than $250, according to figures released yesterday by Elections Alberta. Close to 40 per cent of the NDP’s funds came from the same kind of small donors. 

Still, the NDP raised $1,367,080.50 in the third quarter, while the UCP raised $1,235,482.45.

That was down a little from the NDP’s second-quarter contributions, which exceeded $1.5 million, compared to $771,000 for the UCP in the second quarter, which may have reflected confidence by NDP supporters because of their party’s strong polling and fundraising to date. 

Certainly its much-stronger fundraising performance in the first two quarters left the NDP far ahead of the UCP for political donations through the year to date: $4,060,290.40 to $2,596,202.81.

This is one story you can’t really blame mainstream media for treating as if it were a horserace. Donations to other parties illustrate that, if it actually were a horserace, only two horses would be in the running.

The Pro-Life Alberta Political Association — a “party” drummed up by anti-reproductive-rights activists so they can give tax receipts for donations they receive to pay for political activities — raised $92.560.92 in the third quarter, giving them the right to claim a distant third place in the race. 

The Western Independence Party, mockingly dismissed by some as the Bloc Redneckois, raised $53,839.93 in the quarter. The Alberta Party — the little party that for some reason never seemed to grow no matter which political philosophy it tried out — raised an underwhelming $31,614.54. That was still better than the once-almost-mighty Alberta Liberal Party’s third-quarter contributions of $13,930.54. 

No other political party managed to raise sums in five figures in the quarter. 

The Independence Party of Alberta collected $1,740; the Green Party of Alberta, $1,314; and the Alberta Advantage Party, $300.

Several small parties that are clearly moribund or exist only on paper collected no contributions at all in the quarter. 

Minister named in ‘poisoned work environment’ allegations shrugs off media questions

One of the individuals at the centre of the “poisoned work environment” crisis engulfing the UCP government — Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen — shrugged off media questions about allegations he yelled at a female staffer when he was drunk in his office at the Alberta Legislative Building. 

The allegations were made in a statement of claim by former political staffer Ariella Kimmel, who is seeking $399,000 in lost wages and damages after she was fired last February following her complaints about sexual harassment in a workplace where open drinking and abusive behaviour were tolerated.

Braced by reporters yesterday about Kimmel’s statements, Dreeshen told CBC reporter Janet French he doesn’t have a drinking problem. He also said, “there’s a social aspect to politics, where I think people do sit down and talk about politics over a drink. Something that’s happened for a long time. I obviously didn’t invent it.”

“With my behaviour, there are long, hard days in the legislature and I think that’s something that everybody has had to deal with.”

Apparently, though, a lot of Albertans were not impressed by the 30-something Dreeshen’s tone-deaf defences, which prompted an extremely harsh response on social media. 

Whether that will affect his trusted position in the Kenney government, however, remains to be seen. 

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, a candidate to lead the province’s Opposition Liberal Party fired a staffer who was accused of verbally harassing another candidate’s campaign manager last week.

Candidate Kevin Falcon, a former provincial cabinet minister, apologized to the victim of the profane outburst and, after speaking with the staffer, told media yesterday he had “ended the relationship between him and my campaign team.”

Image: Rachel Notley/Facebook

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...