The tangled web that makes up Daryl Katz’s donations to the Alberta PCs during this year’s provincial election is massive, inter-twined and leads directly back to the billionaire, the Globe and Mail reports.
It’s alleged Katz – personally and through business ventures and associates – gave the Alberta Tories $430,000 in the dying days of the provincial contest which, if true, may violate Alberta election laws. The amount would total at least 20 per cent of all the money raised by the PCs and, the opposition charge, puts the government and Katz in flagrant conflicts of interest.
Katz, a pharmacy billionaire and owner of the Edmonton Oilers, has been seeking $100 million in direct provincial funding and casino licence changes for a new downtown arena for the Oilers.
Earlier this week, the NDP told the legislature that after the election, the government changed the health-care fee schedule to double the amount of money pharmacists get from the public purse to dispense flu shots. The fee schedule change came weeks after documents show the massive cash injection was made in mid April.
Those documents showed that $300,000 of the $430,000 appearing in the tally released by the Alberta PCs were made by Katz, his direct family and close associates.
The Globe now points to documents showing the rest of donations, which amount to $130,000, are also traceable back to other Katz associates.
“Two more direct employees of Mr. Katz were identified, who gave $75,000. Brad Gilewich, a director of Katz Group Properties, gave $25,000, and Brad Gilewich Professional Corp. gave $25,000. SPC Investments Ltd. gave $25,000. The sole voting shareholder of SPC – Sawridge Prescription Centre – is Gerald Williams, who runs Katz Group’s C&H, which develops real estate.”
Much of the cash being traced back to Katz’s sphere of influence come from WAM Development Corp. and WAM executives. Wam was part of the arena land deal and is currently involved with Katz in a development project near 104 Ave. between 101 and 104 St.
Earlier this week, Alberta Chief Electoral Officer Brian Fjeldheim announced he was launching a probe into the donations but on Wednesday, Elections Alberta said although the parties involved in the probe can make the findings from the investigation public, the government cannot.
But Premier Alison Redford’s government vowed that whatever the donations probe uncovers will be made public.
"We will make whatever information that is communicated to our party publicly available as soon as possible," Redford told the legislature during question period.
She said it's part of her ongoing commitment to open up government.
"We have made significant contributions with respect to transparency, from (politician) expense disclosure to a commitment to a (freedom of information) review (and) public interest disclosure whistleblower legislation."
One of the bills to be put forward during the current sitting of the legislature is a legislation the PCs promise will make elections in Alberta, and how they’re conducted, more transparent.
Furthermore, the government fired back saying that despite optics, the province still nixed Katz’s casino licence bid and has not received any form of special treatment.
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Katz has been making headlines over the last month when, mere weeks before a deal was to be solidified between him and the City of Edmonton for a new downtown arena, he said early September he would need millions more if the arena was to become a reality.
Edmonton city council voted to cease all negotiations with Katz after he refused to explain why he needed the cash.