Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister says the provincial government had made no promises to Oilers owner Daryl Katz on funding an arena, despite sizable donations to the PC party.
Katz, family members and his company donated $300,000 to the provincial Conservative party while the hockey team owner was negotiating for a new arena in downtown Edmonton, documents from Elections Alberta show.
During the negotiations, city officials hoped to receive as much as $100 million in funding from the province for the complex.
"That's a lot of money that's a lot for the average person. For Mr. Katz, maybe it's not. I'm not sure exactly how the donations were levied out so I've never been asked for any political favours by anybody," Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths said.
"And I give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they do it because they want to support the democratic process."
Griffiths said the donation has not changed the government’s stance on arena funding. The province has said it will not pay anything towards the arena directly, but the money could come from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which is money given to cities to fund infrastructure projects.
"No favour has been given and I still maintain the position that funding is given through MSI to municipalities, so that they can make the decision that's appropriate to their citizens."
NDP leader Brian Mason says this shows the need for new rules about political donations.
Last week, Edmonton City Council voted to cease negotiations with the Katz Group after disagreements over a number of issues, including the company’s request for an operating subsidy.