PCs must keep promises on transparency
Premier Alison Redford repeatedly promised accountability and transparency during her bid for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party and during the last provincial election. It was an important promise to make at a time when the PC party was taking a hammering from the Wildrose party for what the Wildrose perceived as a lack of transparency and self-entitlement after 40 years in government.
Redford has already taken steps to try and address transparency, but when it comes to election laws, there is clearly a need for more work to be done. This issue received publicity in the wake of news that groups such as municipalities, schools and other groups made prohibited donations to political parties. St. Paul was front and centre in the fracas, as the town and county were found to be among the municipalities that had made donations to the PC party.
Elections Alberta proceeded to start an investigation, but Justice Minister Jonathan Denis was reported as saying information about illegal political contributions was kept secret because the former chief electoral officer asked for the power to conduct investigations in private.
This may be true, but there is no reason why the findings of investigations should not be made public and the former chief electoral officer has said he had never asked for this information to be kept private. However, the PCs passed provincial election laws in 2010 that prevent Elections Alberta from sharing information such as who made donations, which political parties benefited from the illegal donations, how much was donated or how much was paid in fines – which looks extremely circumspect, considering the PCs benefited from prohibited contributions.
The Town and County of St. Paul had the option not to disclose if they had faced administrative penalties, thanks to an exemption in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy act. To their credit, both municipalities chose to disclose this information and be open and transparent even when the law allowed them to choose not to be.
According to the press secretary to Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, the government has sought the recommendations of the current chief electoral officer in order to address any problems in the interpretation of the act.
One hopes that the chief electoral officer makes recommendations to end the secrecy and that the government implements the recommendations, so that Redford’s promises of a government that is open and transparent actually ring true.
In order to post comments on our web site, you must validate your email address. An email was sent to you when you registered that included an activation link. If you have not yet done so, please click on the link to activate your account.
If you did not receive your activation email, please click here to have it resent.