The NDP government’s first bill is designed to renew democracy in Alberta. It must, right, because it says so right there in the title — An Act To Renew Democracy in Alberta. Essentially, it imposes a ban on corporate and union donations, which pretty much everyone (except PC interim leader, Reactionary Ric MacIver) agrees with. This will hurt parties that have depended upon corporate donations, but it also hurts the NDP, which has relied on the generosity of unions to stay alive for years.I’m in agreement with the idea of removing big money from political campaigns. All you have to do is look south, to the U.S., to see the corrosive effects of big money on politics. In many ways, Bill 1 has levelled the playing field.
But not quite.
At left is a copy of an email that was send out to some Edmonton public teachers union members regarding the Sara Hoffman campaign in Edmonton-Glenora. The email says the campaign is hiring — at $20 an hour! — and includes a ‘Donate’ button. The address at the bottom of the email is that of Lou Arab, who is a longtime NDP loyalist, a communications staffer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and Mr. Rachel Notley.
So, the CUPE sent out an email to teachers’ union members letting them know there were jobs available with an NDP campaign, while giving them the opportunity to donate. Now it is becoming more clear why the NDP was so willing to cut off funding from unions — they don’t need the money.
The NDP and unions have been bedfellows forever. For many years, unions have given the NDP tens of thousands of dollars. You could make the argument that the union dollars were needed to counteract the massive corporate donations that went to the PCs, and that’s a valid point. The playing field, financially, was tipped big-time in the PCs favour, so the fact that the unions supported the NDP was only fair … sort of.
Now the NDP is living up to its campaign pledge to ban union and corporate donations. No more big business money. No more big union money. And the NDP is fine with that, because they don’t really need union money. When you’ve got the entire apparatus powerful union(s) at your disposal, with their vast email contacts and employees only too willing to work for the party, you don’t need the money. When you’ve got the data, the people, and the time, who needs money?