Saskatchewan

Sask. NDP promises party fundraising changes that would eliminate corporate and union donations

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili vowed Wednesday that if elected, his party will eliminate corporate and union donations, and cap individual donations.

Buffalo Project says NDP donation claims 'dishonest,' seeks apology

NDP Leader Ryan Meili (centre) said his party would eliminate corporate and union donations if elected. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili vowed Wednesday that if elected, his party will eliminate corporate and union donations, and cap individual donations.

Meili said provincial party fundraising rules are outdated and not in line with the rest of Canada.

He said the NDP would also only allow Saskatchewan people to make donations, saying it would "level the playing field, making sure that it's the people of Saskatchewan that are making the decision about who's governing them, not out-of-province and large companies that are influencing the outcomes of our elections."

Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia do not allow corporate or union donations. In 2017, B.C. passed a similar law and capped individual donations at $1,225.

"When you look at the reams of out-of-province corporations lining Sask. Party coffers, you start to understand why they oppose these changes," Meili said.

In 2019, the Saskatchewan Party showed a healthy fundraising lead of roughly $2 million over the NDP.

The Saskatchewan Party brought in $1.2 million from corporate donors, compared to the $52,000 the NDP received. Meanwhile, the NDP raised $200,000 from unions compared to the Saskatchewan Party's $1,500.  

The Saskatchewan Party took in a combined $1.9 million from more than 15,000 individuals. The NDP raised $1.07 million from more than 9,000 individuals.

NDP aims at Buffalo Project

Meili said the Saskatchewan Party "can't get enough of this cash" and that Premier Scott Moe will not "close the door on his old boys' club."

Meili and the NDP took specific aim at a political interest group known as the Buffalo Project, which was established by Alberta and Saskatchewan businessmen in late 2018. 

On Wednesday Meili stood in front of a poster that showed what the NDP referred to as "Buffalo Project donations to the Saskatchewan Party."

The NDP said those donations went from $5,930 in 2018 to $56,960 in 2019.

There are no records in Elections Saskatchewan's financial returns that show any donations by the Buffalo Project itself.

The NDP said in its news release the donations were by "Buffalo Party-linked donations." The party said it had compiled individual and corporate donations to the Saskatchewan Party by people who signed a July letter from the political action group.

The open letter was sent to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. It urged the provinces to increase their sovereignty over immigration, trade, transportation corridors and taxation.

The NDP's calculation of Buffalo Project donations included several people who donated to the Saskatchewan Party in 2019 and also signed the letter, one of whom was a Buffalo Project founder, Grant Fagerheim. Another person who singed the letter and donated to the party was former Saskatchewan Party cabinet minister June Draude.

Buffalo Project says NDP lied and asks for apology

A spokesperson for the Buffalo Project called the NDP's portrayal "lies."

"This dishonest political attack against a citizen group of professionals in our communities advocating for the best interests of Saskatchewan and Alberta is disgraceful."

The Buffalo Project called on the NDP and Meili to "correct the record, take down their social media posts and issue an apology."

The spokesperson said the July open letter was singed by 60 "independent members" with only a handful of individuals having a position within the Buffalo Project.

"If someone participates in a non-profit initiative and also gives money to the NDP, it does not mean that non-profit gave money to the NDP. The NDP announcement blurred several lines and misled for political purposes."

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 13 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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