Jason Kenney, who announced he will be seeking the leadership of the Alberta PC party, waves his hat during the Calgary Stampede. (Photo: REUTERS/Todd Korol)
Jason Kenney has been out in public, speaking to the media and writing on his website that Unite Alberta is a non-profit. It isn't.
Unite Alberta Ltd. is the corporate entity behind the de facto leadership campaign for Jason Kenney until the official PC leadership campaign starts on Oct. 1, 2016. You may have heard about it due to the multitude of news stories on how Unite Alberta is operating in a party leadership campaign finance rule grey zone.
Because the financial disclosure rules that apply to party leadership campaigns do not come into effect until the leadership race has officially begun, Kenney is not obligated to follow these rules. However, despite operating in this grey zone, the Kenney campaign has gone to great lengths to assure us that nothing untoward is happening.
According to Unite Alberta, they are voluntarily following all the rules set out by Elections Alberta. No corporate or union donations, and only residents of Alberta can donate. They are also voluntarily following the last version of the PC rules on leadership campaigns (which aren't much, but essentially cap single donations at $30,000). Unite Alberta will, apparently, also disclose a full list of donors as any official leadership campaign would have to do.
And the vessel for all of this, Jason Kenney assured us, would be a non-profit that would carry out his campaign. Even his campaign website says Unite Alberta is a non-profit. Except Unite Alberta Ltd. isn't a non-profit at all.
When you do a corporate search and pull what's publicly available for Unite Alberta Ltd., you see that it is a "Named Alberta Corporation" with the corporate access number 2019802210.
When you ask a registry agent to explain whether there is any way that Unite Alberta could be a non-profit, the answer is a steadfast no. Based on the first two numbers of the corporate access number (the 20) there is simply no way Unite Alberta Ltd. could be a non-profit.
It if it was a non-profit company or a non-profit society, it would have a different two-digit code at the beginning of the corporate access number.
It's worth pointing out that if Kenney had registered Unite Alberta as a non-profit society, he would have been obligated to file his financials with Service Alberta at the end of the year. In that case we'd be able to do more than just take Kenney at his word when it came to how much money his campaign had raised and spent. It's a far more transparent organizational structure and one Kenney didn't choose.
It's also worth pointing out that any gifts that Kenney receives while he is a sitting MP would have to be declared to the federal ethics commissioner. Any professional service that is provided would have to be done and paid for at market rates, or it would have to be declared. (Remember that Kenney hasn't resigned his seat and is currently still drawing a federal MP paycheque while campaigning all over Alberta to be leader of the Alberta PCs.)
So, why is Kenney saying on his website and in the media that Unite Alberta is a non-profit when it clearly isn't?
Inquiries to Jason Kenney's legal counsel were not returned, but you can learn more about the organization at its About Us page. A public statement attempting to clarify this matter was put up on Twitter and can be read here.
If he is playing fast and loose with his definition of a non-profit, what else is he playing fast and loose with?
Jason Kenney has assured Albertans that even though his campaign isn't obligated to follow the rules everything would be above board. However, Kenney's campaign has chosen to go with the least transparent organizational structure available and Kenney has publicly misidentified Unite Alberta as a non-profit both to the media and on his website.
It's all the more hilarious when you consider that there is an official Jason Kenney Fact Check Twitter account running around correcting people, and Kenney can't even get his facts straight on what type of organization is running his campaign.
But the fact remains. Kenney either doesn't know or has consistently misidentified what type of organization is behind his campaign. It's a mistake that speaks to the character of Kenney's campaign. If he is playing fast and loose with his definition of a non-profit, what else is he playing fast and loose with?
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