The Opposition Parties have been spending most of their time in Question Period discussing party politics. Rightly so, the Speaker of the House is finally starting to shut it down.
Somebody needs to teach the Speaker about classroom management.
However, an interesting thought came to me when the suggestion of banning corporate donations to electoral campaigns. The theory is that if an entity is unable to vote, they should have no financial say in how the vote can turn out.
What would have happened in the last election if those pesky corporate donors weren't permitted to donate anything at all? After studying the documents on file with Elections Alberta, the following numbers result. This assumes that none of each party's donations under $375 were corporate, which is a big assumption, but probably not an unfair one.
Instead of raising almost $3 million, the Wildrose Party would have only raised $2.2 million. Albertans apparently believe in them so much they are willing to pay them the same amount it would cost to help Northern Alberta recover from the 2011 wildfires. I wonder if they would have been able to rewrap the "Boob Bus" without their corporate donors, though.
The Progressive Conservatives would have raised $1 million less, and would have only pocketed $500,000. Their deficit would have ballooned to $4.1 million instead. An indicator of how much they depend on corporations, perhaps, and not out of reason to expect the same behavior in government.
The NDP, having only raised just over $500,000 themselves, would still have made off with $380,000. That would have left them with a $300,000 deficit. Without unions backing them in an organized way, they too would be having challenges with balancing the books.
The Liberals would have lost over half of their donations, dropping from their $106,000 to a mere $44,000. This is interesting, considering I just received a document indicating the Liberals have long advocated for a ban on corporate donations.
The Alberta Party would have lost only $8,000 of its donations, and would have stayed at $29,000. Not a large sum, but certainly the corporate donations impacted them, too.
If we assume that the Alberta Party could run 35 candidates at $29,000 ($830/candidate), and this rate were transferrable to other parties, the Liberals would have only been able to run 53 candidates.
Foregoing individual campaigns, $2 million would have been taken out of the electoral equation.
In the party leaders' personal campaigns, Danielle Smith would have run a deficit in her Highwood constituency after losing over $27,000 in donations. Alison Redford, who came out with a surplus of $100,000, would have had that cut in half. Raj Sherman would have lost one-third of his contributions, and Glenn Taylor would have lost only one-sixth of his. Nobody donated specifically to Brian Mason's campaign. For the leaders alone, $100,000 of contributions would have not been handed out.
There are a number of conclusions people can draw from these numbers. First, the Wildrose had lots of individual sponsors with either deep pockets or high hopes. The PCs did not have the financial support of individuals. The NDP have challenges without the support of unions. The Liberal party, who touts banning corporate donations, couldn't survive without them. Aside from the Wildrose, the Alberta Party is the only other party that showed consistent grassroots financial support.
Obviously the election campaign would have looked much different had the parties not had any corporate backing. Removing corporate backing would be to no party's benefit. Unless the party didn't even bother starting with it.