Wildrose leader Danielle Smith
Credits: DAVID BLOOM/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON -- Wildrose opposition Leader Danielle Smith called for an immediate investigation into reports that Daryl Katz gave Premier Alison Redford's PC party $430,000 in one cheque in the spring election.
According to documents release by the chief elections officer on Wednesday, Katz and several family members and employees gave about $300,000 of the some $1.6 million in campaign funds raised by the Progressive Conservative party for the April election.
The donations are listed by individual donor, but the campaign paper trail attributes $430,000 to one Katz cheque, Smith said Thursday.
In Alberta, the yearly limit for a single donor is $15,000 and doubles to $30,000 in a campaign year.
"Clearly, getting $430,000, if it's true that it came in the form of one cheque, that's an extremely disturbing allegation," Smith said Thursday morning.
"We think that the chief elections officer should launch an immediate investigation to see whether or not election law was violated and we would hope that Alberta Justice wouldn't quash it," Smith said. "We know that in the past the elections officer has proposed an investigation into illegal donations and they have been quashed."
If the reports are true and if Alberta elections law was violated, it should be prosecuted, Smith said.
And if Katz gave a cheque for almost $500,000 to the PC party and it's not a violation of election law, that represents a loophole that needs to be closed, Smith added.
"It does call into question the integrity of the last election if these allegations are true and it is extremely disturbing that our governing party got one-quarter of its donations in the last election campaign from a single donor," Smith said.
"We know that Mr. Katz, of course, was quite interested in getting the provincial government to spend or allow the municipality to contribute $100 million to use in his arena project.
"If that's where we're going with this, if this has become a sort of pay-to-play government that if you pay enough money you'll be able to get what you want. That throws into question the entire integrity of this government and I have to say this looks awfully suspicious."
Smith suggested the massive contribution came through in the "11th hour to save a government that was clearly on the ropes" during its election campaign.
"You have to wonder, what were the private discussions that took place in return for making such a sizable contribution?" said Smith.
Smith's Wildrose party raised twice as much as the Tories, and finished the election with 17 MLA seats and a $29,000 surplus to boot. According to figures released Wednesday, the majority PCs spent more than $4 million on the campaign and finished with a $3 million debt and 61 MLA seats.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said it looked as though Katz bought himself a government and pointed to Katz's looming arena casino interests as a government-regulated industry, as well as his pharmaceutical concerns with his Rexall company.