Spectre of dark money haunts Alberta political landscape

Alberta Liberals are seeking to exorcise the spectre of dark money currently haunting Alberta’s political landscape.

“Alberta politics is being possessed by political action committees,” says Liberal MLA David Swann. “Unregulated third-party fundraising and spending has political parties and leadership contests firmly in its clutches.

“We need to drive a stake into its heart so that it cannot suck the lifeblood of our democracy: the ability of Albertans alone to decide who represents them.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan first raised the issue of political action committees (PACs) in June 2017, calling on the NDP government to take bold action to reduce the impact of dark money on Alberta’s political processes. He repeated his call in July, in response to the release of Jason Kenney’s leadership financial statements.

The NDP government repeatedly refused to address the issue, and in his pre-session news conference, Government House Leader Brian Mason admitted PACs are not on the NDP legislative agenda this fall sitting.

“Perhaps the NDP has its own skeletons in the closet when it comes to PACs, which would explain why it is dragging its feet,” says Swann. “Alberta Liberals have no such fears and are boldly lighting the way against this shadowy threat.”

Swann’s Bill 214 will seek to define what constitutes a political action committee, expand restrictions on third-party activities beyond the limited category of advertising, and subject PACs to the same election finance rules as every other corporation, union, and individual.


Statement on announcement of approval of safe injection sites in Calgary

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the government’s announcement on supervised injection sites in Calgary today:

“Calgary is the city that has been hardest-hit by Alberta’s opioid crisis. As such, harm reduction measures like safe consumption sites is welcome news. And, certainly, the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre is an excellent choice for this important work.

“Finally, we are seeing this critical service that is long overdue. These sites will undoubtedly improve safety and save lives.”

“However, one is not enough, we need more of these harm reduction and treatment measures in Calgary and throughout the province, especially in smaller urban centres.

“We also need more culturally appropriate services since Indigenous peoples are a significantly impacted community.

“When nearly two lives are lost each day to this scourge, there is a clear need to move more quickly and effectively.

“We need to increase and integrate more resources if we hope to get ahead of this crisis.”


Health and safety of farm and ranch workers must be NDP’s priority

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the NDP need to ensure farm and ranch workers get further protections following today’s release of the technical working groups’ occupational health and safety reports.

“This must be about protecting the lives and livelihoods of farm and ranch workers and their families, not just the business concerns of the agricultural industry,” says Swann. “Changes need to be aimed at enhancing safety and equity for these marginalized workers.

“For example, there needs to be a service centre dedicated solely to farm and ranch workers to help them understand their rights and protections. Fear of reprisal is a big concern for the workers when it comes to reporting an injury or refusing an unsafe practice.”

Last spring, Swann criticized the NDP government when it exempted farm and ranch workers from mandatory rest periods and overtime in Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, which Swann sought to amend twice, but the NDP refused.

“The NDP chose politics over people when it denied farmers and ranchers the same basic rights and benefits as every other worker in Alberta,” says Swann. “It was a big step back for a party that is supposed to support labour rights.

“The technical working groups gave the NDP some degree of political cover, but further action is needed now, especially since conservative factions are eager to turn back the clocks on these issues.”

Swann has been a tireless advocate for farm and ranch workers’ rights and safety. Recently, he wrote to the Ministers of Labour and Agriculture and Forestry to improve labour rules, regulations and practices in Alberta’s agricultural sector.

“It took us decades to come this far,” says Swann. “We cannot stop or turn back now.

“Farm and ranch workers deserve more workplace protections, safety standards and inspections need to be applied consistently to all equipment, and agricultural injuries and deaths need to be investigated regardless of where they occur and who is involved.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on supervised consumption site approvals

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the approval of supervised consumption sites in Edmonton and Lethbridge:

“These approvals are welcome news. I have long called for harm-reduction measures to be implemented in this province as a key component of a coordinated plan to manage the steadily worsening opioid crisis.

“However, the continued delays are deeply disappointing. I find myself asking: if federal approval was the only hold-up for a supervised consumption site, why the months-long gap between the site being approved and opening its doors?

“The lack of sites for Calgary, where opioid overdoses continue to claim the most lives, is troubling. As I’ve said before, access to harm reduction measures must be further expanded. While I’m glad to see a site opening in Lethbridge, other smaller urban centres and rural areas, where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available, are badly in need of these facilities.”


Lethbridge Herald: Why no response to condo owners?

In total, out of 162 requests we received only one credible response and that was from Dr. David Swann, Alberta Liberal MLA. Dr. Swann wrote to Minister McLean outlining his support of our efforts to make Alberta condominium legislation more inclusive, fair and balanced to condo owners than it is at present.

Read More


Condo Act regulations should allow more stakeholder input, clarity

Alberta Liberals say the final version of the Condominium Property Act regulations should allow for more stakeholder input and clarify areas of concern.

“After many years, several different ministers, and two governing parties, I am pleased the province is finally moving ahead on updating Alberta’s condominium legislation,” says David Swann,” However, now that we have come this far, we cannot afford to make mistakes by rushing this across the finish line. We need to take the time to get it right.

Alberta Liberals have been hearing from constituents and stakeholders seeking clarity about the dispute resolution system between condo boards, property management companies and individual owners, as well as how changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act will affect adult-only condominiums.

“There are many unanswered questions,” says Swann. “The government needs to be upfront with Albertans and put everything it is planning on the table for discussion before moving ahead.”

Orders in Council released yesterday indicate that several sections of the Condominium Property Act have been proclaimed, without releasing the draft regulations for public input, as Dr. Swann requested this month in a letter to the Minister of Service Alberta.

Likewise, the Alberta Condo Act Team (ACAT) recently surveyed 162 provincial and municipal representatives and received only three responses, two of which came from ministerial offices and were classified as “non-responsive.” ACAT said in an email that only the Alberta Liberals provided a credible response:

“Dr. David Swann, MLA, Calgary-Mountain View, Alberta Liberal Opposition Leader, provided the one and only single credible response.  Dr. Swann took specific, observable and measurable action by writing to Minister McLean in support of our condo owner advocacy work and our Improvement Ideas.”

Dr. June A Donaldson, ACAT

“While the views of industry are undoubtedly important, there are more voices that need to be heard,” says Swann. “The government should listen to the suggestions made by interest groups such as the Alberta Condo Act Team with the same intensity and give them equal standing in the consultation process.”


Dr. David Swann statement on World Mental Health Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark World Mental Health Day:

“One of the key findings of the Mental Health Review showed serious underfunding for mental health treatment in Alberta – only six per cent of the overall health care budget. This has led to critical deficiencies and severe delays in access to care, particularly when it comes to culturally sensitive services for Indigenous peoples.

“However, increased funding is only part of the solution. Each of us has a role to play in helping those struggling with mental distress. We need to talk more, and more publicly, about these issues, and be ready to reach out to those around us who may be suffering.

“On this World Mental Health Day, let us be mindful of the impact we have on the mental well-being of others, and make a sincere effort to build honest and open relationships in order to be able to encourage others get help when they need it.”