10/24/2012 02:22 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST

Alberta Tories Election Campaign Deficit At $3.1 Million

EDMONTON - Documents released by elections officials show Alberta's Opposition Wildrose party raised more than $3 million in the last election —about twice what Premier Alison Redford's Tories pulled in.

The Wildrose spent almost all of that but stayed in the black. But the Tories spent much more than the $1.6 million they raised and wound up with a $3.1-million deficit.

"We're a party that believes in running balanced budgets not only on government but also in the way we run our own business," Danielle Smith said Wednesday.

"We look at the party finances as being an indication to the public of how we would run government. We ran a surplus and the government ran a massive deficit."

The Wildrose spending did not translate into electoral success. Redford's Tories captured 61 seats in the 87-seat legislature to form a majority government.


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Finance Minister Doug Horner said the results show the financial bottom line does not always equate to the ballot box bottom line.

"Albertans voted for this government because of the vision we created and the plan we put forward, not (on) how much we spent," he said.

Tory officials confirmed the deficit was covered by party savings.

The Wildrose took 17 seats, which was still a significant boost from the four it had leading into the election. The party's final tally was $3.1 million in contributions and other income and a $29,000 surplus when the campaign was over.

Both parties had corporate and private donations, including Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz, who contributed $60,000 to the Tories and $7,500 to the Wildrose.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said reports released from the Tory campaign showed that when Katz's relatives and associated companies were factored in, the total donated to the Tories came to $300,000.

"This is totally inappropriate," he said in a release. "Considering the amount of pressure from Daryl Katz on the Tories to provide public money for the arena deal in Edmonton, it's hard for me to believe that the Tories ever considered accepting this money.

"This is just further evidence that our election law needs a complete overhaul."

The Tories in past elections have raised far more cash than their rivals. Mason said the difference this time was one of perception.

"Both of those parties are very dependent on corporate funders," said Mason. "I think the corporate money was on the Wildrose because they're a little more to the right than the PCs are, especially under Alison Redford."

The NDP spent about $654,000 and ended up with a $137,000 deficit. Mason said the party took out a loan to pay the shortfall and is trying to save ahead of time to break the cycle of taking out loans when the writ is dropped.

The NDP doubled its caucus to four from two in the April 23 vote.

The Alberta Liberals lost the mantle of Official Opposition when they dropped to five seats from eight.

"I had just become leader of the Alberta Liberal Party (before the writ dropped) and everybody knows the party had been in decline for years," said leader Raj Sherman.

"Despite what we raised and despite what we spent we had the most efficient seats per dollar spent."

The Liberals spent $150,000 to elect five MLAs — averaging out to just over $30,000 a seat.

By comparison, the Tories spent $76,000 per winning MLA, the NDP spent $164,000, and the Wildrose $182,000.

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