01/31/2013 07:08 EST | Updated 02/01/2013 09:22 EST

Alberta Illegal Donations: Opposition, Public React Angrily To Findings


As the old adage goes, 'where there's smoke, there's fire,' and lately those fires have been roaring.

Fresh on the heels of a health queue-jumping inquiry that discovered those with wealth and influence were indeed jumping to the front of the line when seeking medical treatment, a probe into political donations has confirmed the Alberta Tories were the recipients of more than $20,000 in illegal endowments.

The investigation, launched by Chief electoral officer Brian Fjeldheim, looked at donations to all political parties.

Ironically, the Tories, who empowered Fjeldheim to make the results of the investigation public, are the only ones who seem to have benefited from shady practices. Only those who made the donations in the first place are being fined.


The response from the opposition and the public was swift.

"Lets face it.. there are two parties that are involved here," said Wildrose leader Danielle Smith Thursday.

"It's not just those who made the donations when they shouldn't have, it's the PC Party for creating a culture where people from school boards, municipalities and other entities felt they had to go to political functions in order to get grants for their communities.

"This is why every dollar of illegal donations needs to be released by the PC party."

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Photo gallery Reaction To Illegal Donations To Tories See Gallery

Many called on the Tories to return the cash obtained through illegal donations but Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta president Jim McCormick told the Edmonton Journal the party has already returned $6,900 and they don't feel it's right to return money from individual donors who later went to prohibited organizations to get reimbursed.

“We acknowledge the spirit of the act where we do not want to be the beneficiary of public dollars back as donations, period,” McCormick told the Journal.

“However, we accepted this money from individuals primarily in good faith as donations directly from them. We think the onus should fall more on those individuals rather than either the prohibited corporations or ourselves.”

Fjeldheim's investigation is not yet over and he said more findings will be forthcoming, including the results of the probe into the more than $400,000 allegedly donated by Edmonton Oilers, and Rexall billionaire, Daryl Katz, as well as his family and associates.

-With files from The Canadian Press.