Illegal Tory donations irk Alberta premier

Premier Alison Redford says she is disappointed some municipalities aren't following the rules on political donations.
Premier Alison Redford speaks to a Conservative party fundraising dinner in Red Deer Thursday. She promised to look into reports of municipalities making illegal donations to the party. (CBC)

Premier Alison Redford says she is disappointed some municipalities are not following the rules on political donations.

"I heard about those details today and [am] disappointed to hear about them," said Redford after her speech to Tory supporters at a party fundraiser in Red Deer.

Her comments follow a CBC investigation revealing that several municipal councils have contributed to the Conservative party, despite laws against it.

It is against Alberta's Election Finances Contributions Disclosure Act to use public money for partisan politics.

On Thursday CBC reported that Ron Boisvert, St. Paul's chief administrative officer helped organize a golf tournament in June to raise campaign funds for MLA Ray Danyluk.

Boisvert also participated in the tournament at the town's expense, along with the mayor and two councillors.

"Economic tyranny"

CBC later learned the town of Hardisty also sent councillors to a Progressive Conservative riding association fundraising golf tournament, while the town of Cardston waived green fees for a golf tournament in 2009 for former premier Ed Stelmach.

Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who used to represent the Cardston-Taber-Warner constituency, said local politicians and municipal employees are pressured to support the Tory party.

"The first time I ran there were librarians, museum curators, the mayors, the councillors — every organization was told, 'You work on my campaign or you might not get funding.'

"You have no idea the intimidation and the pressure these people use," said Hinman who now represents Calgary-Glenmore.

"I used to call it economic tyranny."

Barrhead donation not disclosed

Documents obtained by the Liberals show the town of Barrhead donated $720 in 2009 to buy two tables for 16 people at a riding association fundraiser for legislature speaker and Tory MLA Ken Kowalski.

All seven Barrhead councillors, their spouses and two staff members attended.

However the donation is missing from the riding association's financial disclosure document.

"I think this is a black mark on Alberta politics," said Liberal leader Raj Sherman. "These kinds of practices are unethical, amoral and they're illegal.

"This must stop."

The premier insists she will look into whether the party can return those donations and whether a full investigation is required.

"It's not a situation that I want to see, it's certainly not a situation that Albertans want to see," she said.

With files from CBC's Charles Rusnell