June 1, 2012
In January 2012, the University of Calgary received a Request to Access Information under the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP). In the request, the applicant sought “all records related to any money spent by the University of Calgary for political purposes…any records related to donations and solicitations related to politics.” In March 2012, the university received two additional requests from different sources for the same information. A similar request, but more narrow in nature, was received prior to January 2012 and in the course of its research, the university found nothing to report.
However, in the course of investigating the January 2012 FOIP request, several electronic communications and other documents were discovered indicating that the university may have indirectly contributed to various political causes after it was prohibited by provincial legislation in 2004. However, the university has received conflicting information as to whether this occurred. Regardless, when the records were identified in response to the FOIP request, the university took the possibility of an historical violation of the legislation very seriously.
The university voluntarily reported the findings to the province’s Chief Electoral Officer on Feb. 17, 2012, and has complied completely with its obligations under the FOIP Act. This required notification to affected third parties and gave them the right to object to the university's proposed disclosure of the records in question.
What is clear from the records is that all of the activity took place between the change in provincial legislation on May 11, 2004 and 2008, and in 2008 the university directed the termination of any practice that might contravene the legislation. From the records, it appears that if there were any indirect contributions which contravened the legislation, the amount involved was just under $10,000.
The University of Calgary is fully and demonstrably committed to adhering to public policy and legislation, and to following the highest practices of good governance and ethical behaviour. Given that the matter is in front of the Chief Electoral Officer, the university cannot comment further as it is awaiting the findings of the investigation.