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August 20th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 32
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Prentice offering free memberships
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Jim Prentice
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
After a spokesperson initially denied the allegations, PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice conceded that his campaign has been giving away free party memberships and will continue to do so.
In an August 13, audio interview with the editorial board of the Edmonton Sun, Prentice said that his campaign team is paying for the distributed memberships, which cost $10.
"This is the same as all other leadership races. Are there free memberships? Yes, there are free memberships. It happens in all of these campaigns in every party," said Prentice.
"The point is, the party has insisted that all these memberships be paid for. They will be paid for and we'll be fully transparent and disclose all of the details,” he added.
Prentice told the Sun that the memberships were distributed to boost participation in the democratic process as the PC leadership race is an internal process that is only open to party members.
A member of rival candidate Ric McIver’s campaign covertly recorded an unidentified member of Prentice’s campaign giving away PC memberships at the Chinatown Street Festival in Calgary last weekend.
Both McIver and leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk have reportedly denounced the practice.
continued below...


Barry Cooper, professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said that giving away memberships diminishes the importance of having a minimal barrier of entry into the party.
“The implication of that is that the Prentice campaign has more money than supporters,” said Cooper.
“Ten dollars is not a huge barrier to entry, so the argument is that if you are very well funded, you already have an advantage,” he added.
Historically, the practice of giving away party memberships has been employed for three reasons, explained Cooper.
Firstly, ethnically visible candidates have given away memberships to recruit people from their ethnic communities who are not generally interested in politics and are not party members.
Secondly, some candidates have used the method to recruit “instant Tories” who would normally vote for other parties. Former PC leader Allison Redford was accused of this when she made promises to Alberta’s teachers.
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August 20th ~ Vol. 84 No. 32
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