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Alberta NDP looking to cap election spending

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WATCH ABOVE: The same committee that proposed giving political parties taxpayer rebates for campaign expenses is now taking aim at how much parties are allowed to spend. As provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon explains, the opposition feels the NDP is locking in its own advantage – Aug 15, 2016

The Alberta NDP is moving to restrict the amount of money political parties can spend during a provincial election campaign.

On Monday, government members on the Special Ethics and Accountability Committee voted to cap spending for each political party to 80 cents per eligible voter, or just over $2.2 million.

“It’s ultimately our goal to take big money and big influence out of politics here,” said committee member Graham Sucha, the NDP MLA for Calgary-Shaw, who introduced the motion.

All of the opposition members on the committee voted against the motion, worried the government members hadn’t proven the chosen amount was a true reflection of what is needed to run a campaign.

“I want to know the rationale as to why the limits are set the way they are,” said Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, who is in favour of some form of spending limit.

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READ MORE: Wildrose calling on Alberta NDP party to clarify controversial vote subsidy plan 

Most provinces do have campaign spending limits in place. Ontario also has an 80-cents-per-voter limit, but it has a population three times the size of Alberta. In British Columbia, which has a similar population to Alberta, the limit is $1.40 per voter.

READ MORE: Fact file: Federal campaign periods and spending limits 

In the 2015 election campaign, the Jim Prentice-lead Progressive Conservatives spent by far the most amount of money at $4.3 million, followed by the NDP at $1.6 million. The Wildrose Party was close behind at around $1.2 million.

The Wildrose introduced an amendment during the debate to allow political parties to spend the same amount the government does on taxpayer-funded advertising, pointing out the NDP has budgeted more than $4 million alone for its climate change plan advertising campaign. That motion was quickly struck down.

In order for the change to become law, it would have to be introduced and debated in the house.

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