There has been much in the media during this election with regard to third party advertisers. A Third Party Advertiser (TPA) can be an individual, corporation or group but does not include a candidate. A TPA promotes or opposes the election of a candidate during the election advertising period. More information regarding TPAs can be found on the City of Calgary Elections website here.
One TPA generating a lot of discussion is Calgary's Future. According the registry on the Calgary Elections website they have received the following donations they plan to use to promote candidates during the election:
The signature on the document is that of the person listed as the primary contact in the registry, Alexander Shevalier. On his personal website he mentions he is President of the Calgary and District Labour Council and Past President of the Calgary Currie NDP. There isn't anything wrong with that, I'm just pointing out a piece of readily available information.
The dollar amounts listed in the document are very large. Large enough that many people and media outlets have commented. One comment came via an email that most candidates received recently from lawyer Robert Lehodey, Q.C. :
"I, like many of you and I suspect many other Calgarians, have been receiving Calgary’s Future e-mails over the past few months. Unwittingly I read their material and it appears very well intentioned and focused on getting people out to vote – clearly a laudable goal. But as I have looked further into this organization (and I am lagging the play admittedly) it turns out to be a union funded third party advertiser (a political action committee by more common nomenclature) with a war chest of $1.7+ million dollars and is supporting a number of candidates (indeed some of you) based on what it claims to be in the best interests of Calgarians. Can this really be the case?
This organization can, by the mere definition of its funding, only be promoting the interests of the unions that support it so how is that in the best interests of all Calgarians as it claims in virtually all its communications? Frankly this needs to be called out so that the vast majority of Calgarians who do not work for a union understand that he communications they may have received from Calgary’s Future are not really in the best interests of all Calgarians.
As you can imagine, the reaction from candidates varied, mostly depending on whether or not Calgary's Future was promoting them. One councillor candidate has stated, "At this point it’s caused more headache than gain from what I can tell. I’m having to defend my integrity ...". Others have tried to rationalize the support on their own websites. A follow-up email by Mr. Lehodey to one response reads in part:
"I have it on very good authority that every candidate interviewed by Calgary's Future was asked specifically whether or not he or she supports the unions and would continue to advocate for them if elected. If this is indeed true then, regardless of the issue under consideration by Council, to the extent a decision is made where you (or any other councillor of mayor supported by Calgary’s Future) votes for a result that favors the union segment of the population to the detriment of all Calgarians as a whole, a gross disservice will have been done to Calgarians as your lens’ on the issue will have been clouded with the commitment made (tacit or otherwise) to Calgary’s Future.
To be clear, I am only sharing information and concerns that have been sent to me. I'll leave it to you to as to their interpretation. In the interest of transparency, I have not been promoted by Calgary's Future. However, I would offer a general comment regarding endorsements. Candidates don't have to accept and embrace them. Should any candidate feel uncomfortable with an endorsement for any reason, they could decline the endorsement or promotion and make a public statement to that effect. Should they choose to accept the promotion from any group for their own gain, they should also be prepared to accept the scrutiny that may come along with it.