Wildrose slams Premier Rachel Notley's involvement in Ontario NDP fundraising dinner

The Opposition Wildrose say they will ask Alberta’s ethics commissioner to investigate Premier Rachel Notley’s involvement in a private, $9,975-per-plate fundraiser that benefited the Ontario NDP.

Notley was guest at Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s recent $9,975-per-plate event

Rachel Notley defends fundraising dinners

7 years ago
Duration 0:58
Alberta's premier says fundraising dinners are an important way for political parties to raise money.

The Opposition Wildrose say they will ask Alberta's ethics commissioner to investigate Premier Rachel Notley's involvement in a private, $9,975-per-plate fundraiser that benefited the Ontario NDP.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath confirmed Notley was a guest Friday at her fundraiser dinner in Toronto. The party held the intimate event in a 19th-floor restaurant at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and invited only 20 members of the Ontario business and labour communities.

Horwath's spokesperson, Karla Webber-Gallagher, told CBC News the Ontario NDP paid Notley's travel and accommodation costs and none of the proceeds from the fundraiser went to Alberta's New Democrat party.

In a news release, Wildrose accountability critic Jason Nixon said the fundraiser shows Notley's priorities are skewed.

"When thousands of Albertans are losing their jobs or struggling to make ends meet, Ms. Notley's team has been busy selling exclusive access to the premier of Alberta for $10,000 a ticket to help out their NDP friends," Nixon said.

"Even more alarming is the secret nature of these events being hidden from the Alberta public," he said.

"Ms. Notley once campaigned on greater openness and transparency in politics, but within a year she is now conducting secret big money corporate fundraisers for her friends."

In an interview with CBC News, Horwath said including Notley in the event made sense for the party.

"New Democrats need to be competitive, as the other two parties (are)," Horwath said. "Ms. Notley, as the premier of Alberta, is someone that was a bit of a novelty, having taken over after over 40 years of Conservative rule, and people were kind of curious as to what she was all about.

"And so we thought it would be a good opportunity to have people get to know her a little bit better."

At a news conference Tuesday to announce a byelection in Calgary, Notley told reporters the Toronto fundraising trip was cleared in advance by Alberta's ethics commissioner and she said "not a cent" went to her party in Alberta.

She also said it is common for party leaders from different provinces to support each other, as a courtesy, through political fundraising events. 

Another fundraising controversy

This is yet another fundraising controversy for Alberta's governing party.

On Monday, the NDP said it would proceed with a reception tonight, that, for $1,000, offered people the chance to mingle with Notley and NDP cabinet ministers and MLAs in advance of a publicly advertised $250 fundraiser at the Art Gallery of Alberta. 

A Notley spokesperson said it had been cleared by the ethics commissioner. But late this afternoon, the party said it had postponed the fundraiser after learning the ethics commissioner had agreed to investigate a Wildrose party complaint about the reception. 

The NDP said it would postpone the reception until after Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler delivers her report. 

In November, the party apologized for a Calgary fundraising invitation that appeared to sell access to Notley, her cabinet and MLAs.

Moments after defending the event in question period, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman read an apology to the house about the wording of the notice.

Last week, CBC News revealed the Alberta NDP had solicited the political and financial support of the chair of an arm's-length government tribunal.

University of Calgary lawyer Peter Bowal is chair of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Council, a quasi-judicial tribunal that hears appeals of orders issued against employees and employers. He said the solicitations from the NDP could undermine his role and he said he felt  pressured to support the governing party.

New Democrat party president Christopher O'Halloran said researchers did not know about Bowal's position on the tribunal and he has now been removed from its fundraising database.