Year-to-date contribution reports released by Elections Alberta on Aug. 2 reveal slight changes in how local residents are monetarily supporting provincial political parties through the first two quarters of 2022, compared to the same time period last year.
The reports, which only provide names and areas of residence for those who donate $250 or more, show local support for the governing United Conservative Party has shrunk so far this year compared to last. As of June 30, the UCP has received donations of $250 or more from 23 residents of St. Albert, Morinville, and Sturgeon County combined, for a total of $17,961.
These local contributions represent 2.42 per cent of the UCP's fundraising total from donations of $250 or more this year.
At this point last year, the UCP had received donations from 32 locals, totaling $22,603 in contributions.
Meanwhile, the Alberta NDP has reported a slight increase in local support. So far this year the NDP has received donations from 65 individuals, raising a total of $38,713. In the first six months of 2021 the NDP received $34,525 from 64 donors.
The local contributions represent 2.86 per cent of the NDP's fundraising total from donations of $250 or more in 2022.
University of Calgary political science professor Anthony Sayers said these changes may be too small to suggest significant shifts in how residents are feeling, but it might be the beginning of a pattern.
“I read these broadly as consistent with, [but] not proving, the claim that the NDP has sustained or maybe enlarged its appeal to the number of people who consider it a viable alternative,” Sayers said.
"It means they’re organizationally strong enough and organized and have enough money to run a decent campaign.”
The reports released by Elections Alberta also show that the provincial Liberals have no local donors so far this year; two individuals donated a combined $3,300 to the party by this time last year.
“The NDP have sucked up all the air on the non-right side of politics," Sayers said. "In your neck of the woods, the Liberal Party is not seen as a viable alternative to the UCP and the NDP is.
"That can change over time but it’s hard to imagine.”
Another change seen in 2022 is local residents have begun donating to the Pro-Life Alberta Political Association, formerly known as the Alberta Social Credit Party before the party's name change in 2017.
Five residents have donated a combined $2,300 to Pro-Life Alberta so far this year, the first time the party has received donations from people in the area.
Sayers said it is reasonable to assume residents may have been inspired to donate to Pro-Life Alberta after seeing the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade on June 24.
"Five people donating $2,300 is not going to have any effect on Alberta politics," Sayers added. "What people don’t realize often is Alberta has never been a religious province.
“Canadians are not going to revisit the abortion debate. No conservative party in Canada would go near it unless they’re crazed, because it just confirms what [left-leaning parties] have always said about them.”
'Continue to work hard'
For St. Albert-Morinville NDP candidate Karen Shaw, the slight increase in support for the NDP and decrease in support for the UCP is a sign locals want to see change.
"We’ve been doing lots of door knocking, lots of talking to people [and] they want change,” Shaw said. "I think they’re tired of constant scandalous management so they’re supporting that change.
“We’ve got great volunteers and we’re connecting with as many voters as possible. We’ll just continue to work hard with a group of dedicated people and we’re trying to affect positive change.”
Neither the St. Albert or St. Albert-Morinville UCP constituency associations responded to The Gazette's interview requests.
The donor lists are public and can be viewed and downloaded on the Elections Alberta financial reporting site: https://efpublic.elections.ab.ca/efParties.cfm?MID=FP