Pro-development advertisers violated election advertising legislation
As many of you will remember, Rocky View Weekly carried a number of attack ads during the last County election. At the time, one of the ads stated it was by an organization calling itself Albertans for Property Rights and Democracy. The others were written by Bruce McAllister, who is currently the executive director of Danielle Smith’s southern Alberta UCP government office (previously the head of the Rocky View pro-development lobby group Rocky View 2020) and long-time Rocky View residents Louise Locke and Rob Matthews.
Rocky View Forward is strongly committed to level playing fields and believes that everyone must comply with relevant rules and legislation. As a result, we filed complaints concerning these attack ads since it was obvious that they had not followed the provincial legislation requiring registration of all third-party advertisers in municipal elections.
In response to our complaints, the Alberta Election Commissioner concluded that those advertisements violated the third-party advertising legislation. The Election Commissioner determined that Albertans for Property Rights and Democracy paid for all the ads and so was responsible for violating the rules, not the individuals who had claimed ownership of the ads. The Elections Commissioner also established that the organization collected contributions to pay for the advertisements. By failing to register, those involved have avoided disclosing the source of the organization’s funding – one of key objectives behind the UCP’s introduction of third-party advertising rules. Interestingly, we were unable to find evidence of this organization’s existence either during the election or since.