One of the first hings the Alberta NDP did after gaining power in May 2015 was to eliminate corporate and union donations to political parties. Well, direct donations anyhow. Both groups can still donate to political action committees—also called third party advertisers in Alberta.
Bill 1 was introduced in June, received unanimous approval from all MLAs voting on it, and was given royal assent by the end of the month.
However, just because corporations can no longer donate directly to parties doesn’t mean there still isn’t a way for corporate money to get to parties, and not just through PACs.
One other way is for executives of corporations to make personal donations to parties.
Knowing this, I recently went through the year-to-date 2021 donations for the UCP party (the 4th quarter donations aren’t ready just yet), and among the largest donors, I found a common thread: oil and gas.
Elections Alberta limits personal donations to $4,243 per person per calendar year, so I looked at just those donors who had already reached that threshold. Out of the 39 donors who had maxed out their donations by the third quarter, 4 were sitting MLAs or their spouses. Of the rest, 16 were connected to the oil and gas industry, either directly or through their spouse.
Here they are.
Don Archibald is on the board of directors with Spartan Delta. He has been CEO of other oil and gas companies, such as Cequel Energy and Cyries Energy, as well as Cypress Energy, a private investment company.
Rene Blais is the president of RB Oilfield Hauling, based in Grande Prairie.
Victor Budzinski is the CEO of Java Group, an energy investment firm. His spouse, Jeanette, also maxed out her personal donations to the UCP in 2021.
David Hood is the president and CEO of geoLOGIC systems, an oil and gas service company based out of Calgary. He’s also one of the speakers for the 2022 Global Energy Show this upcoming June. His spouse, Andrea, also maxed out her personal donations to the UCP in 2021.
Gary Kalynchuk is a civil engineer and currently project manager for the Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel/pipeline project in the Straits of Makinaw. He was also appointed by the UCP in 2020 to sit on the Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations.
David Mombourquette is senior vice president of business development and IT with Whitecap Resources.
James Pasieka is counsel in the Calgary office of international law firm McCarthy Tetrault, specializing on corporate and commercial law, specific to oil and gas. He is board chair of Surge Energy and corporate secretary for Veerum, a tech company specializing in the extraction sector.
Mac Van Wielingen
Bruce Waterman sits on the board of directors of Ovintiv, previously known as Encana, which used to be based out of Calgary but moved their head office to Denver shortly after the UCP were elected. He also sits on the board of directors for Prairie Storm Resources. His spouse, Caroline, also maxed out her personal contribution to the UCP in 2021.
Grant Wilde is the president and CEO of Spartan Controls, which provides automation and measurement services to various industries, including oil and gas.
Update (27 Jan 2021): In an earlier version of this story, I had Victor Budinski as his son Adam. Also, according to Victor’s son, Alex, who’s also the VP of North American operations, Java isn’t an energy investment firm, even though the history page on their website says, “Java invests and is an active and engaged player in its acquisitions. We provide high level execution support for large utility, oil and gas, and power generation projects.”