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Alberta proposes tightening contributions, spending on municipal votes

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is tightening up spending, contribution and disclosure rules around municipal elections.

The changes mirror rules already brought in by Premier Rachel Notley’s government to limit contributions and increase transparency around provincial campaigns.

Under the bill introduced Monday by Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson, corporate and union donations will be banned.

“After consulting over the summer with Albertans, we have taken their feedback and are proposing these updates to get big money out of local elections, make it easier for Albertans to vote, and create a more transparent election process,” Anderson told the legislature.

Under the proposed legislation, during an election year individuals can donate up to $4,000 in total to municipal campaigns as well as another $4,000 total to school board races.

The rules, and any infractions, will be investigated and enforced by the Office of the Election Commissioner.

The bill would allow for third parties to support candidates through advertising spending, but those third parties would be banned from working with or fundraising for that candidate.

Third-party advertisers would also be required to register with each local jurisdiction where they intend to advertise.

Among the other changes, the money could be collected only during the calendar year when the election is held.

Outside of that period, the proposed rules would allow only small fundraising for door-knocking and other activities up to a maximum $2,000.

Any municipality over 5,000 people would have to offer advance polls.

Candidates would be required to disclose names and addresses of those who contribute more than $50.

If the bill is passed, the new rules would kick in Jan. 1.

Alberta has 341 municipal elections and another 60 for school boards.