An Alberta group is calling Saskatchewan the Wild West of Canadian campaign finance.
Progress Alberta released a database this week detailing corporate contributions to the Sask. Party between 2006 and 2015.
The database doesn’t cover the 2016 provincial election. That disclosure won’t be available until 2017.
Duncan Kinney, Progress Alberta’s executive director, said he was surprised at the scale of corporate donations made to the party from companies headquartered outside Saskatchewan.
“We found that Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party has accepted over $3 million worth of out-of-province donations since 2006 and $2 million of that $3 million has come from Alberta,” he said.
The Sask. Party collected about $30 million from all sources in the time period covered in Kinney’s report.
Kinney said among the biggest contributors from Alberta were oil and gas firms, construction companies and banks.
Many of the companies, like Agrium and Crescent Point Energy, are headquartered in Alberta, but do substantial business in Saskatchewan.
A few don’t appear to have operations in the province, like Credit Union Central and Servus Credit Union.
Kinney said he was inspired to put together the information after seeing Wall speak at the Calgary Petroleum Club back in June.
“He gave this kind of rah-rah inspirational speech to a crowd of Calgary oil and gas executives.
And while the quotes were kind of dutifully repeated in the media, no one really clued in as to what it was: It was a fundraiser. Brad Wall was in Calgary raising money from Alberta-based oil and gas companies,” Kinney said.
A spokesperson from the Premiers office said the event was not a fundraiser, adding Wall received nothing for speaking at the event and that no proceeds were shared.
Wall was invited to speak at the Calgary club by the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC), an oil and gas advocacy group. A spokesperson with EPAC clarified the event was a luncheon and Wall was reimbursed for his travel expenses.
Kinney said the data is also troubling in light of the fact Wall is paid about $37,000 a year from Sask. Party coffers, on top of his premier’s salary from the province.
“The fact that Brad Wall’s salary gets topped-up with donations from out-of-province does make me a little queasy,” he said.
Kinney said Saskatchewan has the most lax rules on campaign donations in the country.
He noted Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island are the only provinces to allow out-of-province contributions.
“In Alberta, we haven’t had out-of-province donations since 1977 and we got rid of them for a reason,” he said.
He also criticized Saskatchewan for not banning donations from registered charities and having no caps on individual donations.
Kinney said he focused on the Sask. Party because they have been in power for almost a decade.
He said a quick glance at other parties’ records makes it plain that the Sask. Party out-fundraises them by a significant margin, even just on the basis of contributions from individuals.
Kinney suggested the party would likely have no difficulty mounting effective campaigns without resorting to corporate donations from companies headquartered outside the province.
“If you can’t go to your own citizens and raise your money, I question why you’re even in politics in the first place,” he said.
Kinney said he hopes his report sparks calls for campaigning finance reform in Saskatchewan.
“Saskatchewan has the worst campaign finance laws in the country. And you only get better campaign finance laws if you ask for them, demand them in fact,” he said.
Progress Alberta’s searchable database can be viewed online.