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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Since Jason Kenney became defence minister in February, 2015, his credibility has previously been called into question over a series of incidents ranging from social media gaffes to inaccurate factual claims.
On March 8 – International Women’s Day – Kenney took to Twitter to thank the Canadian Forces for fighting ISIL’s “campaign to enslave women and girls.” He shared striking images of women in burkas chained together. However, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the women in one image were actually performing a ceremonial re-enactment in honour of the prophet Mohammad's grandson, Hussein, and his family. The National Post later reported that another photo was from an anti-ISIL protest in the United Kingdom and a third image, supposedly showing an ISIL militant and a child bride, has also be called into question. When Liberals asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper in question period if he would reprimand his minister for the misleading tweet, the prime minister responded that Kenney was “new to his portfolio.” Though the National Council of Canadian Muslims derided the tweet as “corrosive” and opposition parties called for Kenney to remove it from his account, the tweet still exists.
Kenney also claimed in March that a Russian fighter jet “buzzed” the HMCS Fredericton at a low altitude in the Black Sea and stood by a claim from his parliamentary secretary that the frigate was confronted by Russia warships. However, NATO officials told Postmedia that Russian aircraft actually flew over the NATO maritime task force to which the Fredericton was assigned at a high altitude and denied any confrontation with Russian warships took place. The confusion over the incident spurred a blistering rant from CBC host Rick Mercer. “Someone’s lying,” Mercer said. “The Minister of Defence, NATO. They both have completely different stories.”
According to The Ottawa Citizen, while Kenney was on a conference call with reporters discussing Canada’s expanded mission against ISIL, he said he did not take NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair seriously because “the NDP has opposed every single overseas military deployment in Canadian history.” Not true. The NDP supported Canada’s 2011 military mission in Libya, but did not vote for extension.
According to that same Citizen story, Kenney also claimed that defence spending under the previous Liberal governments fell to a record low of 0.7 per cent of GDP. Not true. From the story: “NATO, the World Bank and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a respected think-tank on global defence expenditures, say Canadian defence spending never fell below 1.1 per cent of GDP between 1990 and 2012. However, last year – under the Conservatives – it slipped to one per cent.” A spokesperson told the paper that Kenney meant to say defence spending dropped by 0.7 per cent under the Grits.
Kenney also told reporters in late March that Canada needed to join the bombing campaign against ISIL in Syria because only this country and the United States have the kind of precision-guided smart bombs needed for the airstrikes. Not true. As reported by The Ottawa Citizen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both part of the five nation, U.S.-led coalition bombing targets in Syria, have used such bombs against ISIL. Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of the defence staff, originally backed up Kenney’s claim that only Canada and America had the weapons. However, Lawson changed his tune on April 1, saying Canada’s allies did indeed have the weapons. Kenney apologized for the gaffe in the House of Commons, placing the blame on a briefing error.
UP NEXT: Mosul After ISIS
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, men pause on a lorry on the road to Mosul, northern Iraq.
Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road in Mosul on Monday, June 23, 2014.
A 1932 image of Lady Surrma of the Assyrian community posing for a portrait in Mosul, northern Iraq.
An Iraqi woman looking at a shop display in central Mosul after the Islamic State group ordered clothes shop owners to cover the faces of the mannequins on Monday, July 21, 2014.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, the Tigris River stretches out in the distance as seen from Mosul, northern Iraq.
File photo of smoke rising during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.
A 1932 image taken during the autumn of Nebi Yunis, the tomb of the prophet Jonah, in Mosul, northern Iraq,
Iraqis walk in the rubble of the revered Muslim shrine after it was was destroyed on Thursday, July 24, 2014 by militants who overran the city in June and imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, Iraqis pause in the market in Mosul, northern Iraq.
Demonstrators chanting pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul on Monday, June 16, 2014.
Follow Duncan Kinney on Twitter: www.twitter.com/duncankinney