CBC investigation finds some Alberta PSE institutions made illegal donations to PC party

March 22, 2012

The CBC reports that Athabasca University made more than $10,000 in illegal donations to Alberta's Progressive Conservative party between 2006 and 2008. The university's board chair says the institution made the donations because it was "trying to develop a relationship with the government at the time, trying to further our needs as far as funding and the like." The board chair says Athabasca U officials who made the donations did not know it was wrong. "I believe that people made an honest mistake," he says. "They did it in good faith. The moment we found out it was illegal, we stopped the practice." Calling the matter "pork-barrel politics," an Athabasca U political scientist says if officials did not know it was illegal, they should have recognized it was wrong to use public funding for private political purposes. Athabasca U ended its practice of donating to the PC party in October 2008, adopting a policy banning them. The board chair says the Athabasca-Redwater PC Association has reimbursed the university (whose secretariat is also president of the local PC riding association), but he does not know if the party has refunded the thousands of dollars it received. The CBC investigation found that Portage College and Grande Prairie Regional College variously used public funding to attend numerous PC fundraisers between 2004 and 2011. These institutions say all the public money used for political donations has been repaid either by the individuals who attended the events or by the PC party. CBC (Athabasca U) | CBC (College Donations)