Democracy Watch’s mandate, 20 Steps towards a Modern, Working Democracy proposes changes that all governments in Canada should enact (according to their respective powers) to ensure that Canadian citizens have a greater and more meaningful role in government and corporate decision-making in Canada. These changes include empowering Canadians as voters, citizens, taxpayers, consumers of information and services, and as shareholders of private and public wealth.
Started 7 petitions
Make big businesses and banks pay their fair share of taxes
A special report recently published in the Toronto Star details how Canadian big businesses, especially the Big Banks, have higher profits but pay a lower rate of taxes than ever before. In 2016, big businesses paid only 22% of total taxes collected by governments -- Canadians paid 78%! In contrast, in 1952 big businesses and Canadians paid the same amount in taxes. As the report details: "Canada’s largest corporations use complex techniques and tax loopholes to reduce their taxes significantly below the official corporate tax rate set by the government." As well, the report details how cutting Canada's corporate tax rate by 16% from 1997 to 2016 has not increased corporate investment in machinery and equipment and in intellectual property like it was supposed to do. Investments by Canada's big businesses in these areas are still below the 1997 percentage compared to the size of Canada's total economy. Canada's official corporate tax rate is now 26.6% but, on average, Canadian big businesses paid only 17.7% from 2011-2016 -- one of the lowest rates of all G7 countries. Canada's Big Banks paid a tax rate of only 16% over the past 6 years -- lower than banks in other G7 countries. They are the biggest tax evaders of all Canadian big businesses and, not surprisingly, also the most profitable. They made a record $42.3 billion in profits in 2017. If Canada's big businesses and banks paid the official tax rate from 2011-2016, governments across Canada would have almost $64 billion more to spend on making hospitals, schools, housing, public transit and roads better, and on other things Canadians need. Making Canada's big businesses and banks pay their fair share in taxes will raise at least $10 billion each year, and billions more if the corporate tax rate is increased to the average rate in G7 countries. Please sign and share this petition calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to work together with all federal political parties to make the following 3 key changes: Close all the loopholes that allow Canada's big businesses and banks to evade paying taxes in Canada by pretending they make their money through companies they own in low-tax countries; Increase Canada's business tax rate to match the average rate in G7 countries, and; Impose a special tax (like England and Australia have) on any Canadian business or bank that has excessively high profits like Canada's Big Banks have had in the past several years. Please help make Canada's big businesses, and Big Banks, pay their fair share of taxes -- sign and share this petition now! For details, see: Canada's corporations pay less tax than you think (Toronto Star, December 14, 2017) Democracy Watch's Bank Accountability Campaign Stop Corporate Tax Dodging Campaign (Canadians for Tax Fairness)
Stop excessive government secrecy
Secrecy in government is a recipe for corruption, waste of the public's money, and abuses of power. Yes, some secrecy is needed to protect the private information that governments gather about Canadians, and to protect investigations into crimes by the police and national security forces. However, the culture of excessive secrecy within the Canadian government encourages wrongdoing, makes government accountability much more difficult, and helps the ruling party push its agenda forward even if a majority of public opposes the agenda. The Conservatives under Prime Minister Harper made many key promises during the 2006 election to strengthen government transparency -- but they broke almost all of their promises. Since then, seven reports have been published calling for key changes. Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party promised during the 2015 election to strengthen Canada's open government law, the Access to Information Act, to close secrecy loopholes so that government data and information will be "open by default" -- and specifically to apply the law to the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers. The Liberals said they were making these promises because "transparent government is good government." Prime Minister Trudeau said: "As the saying goes, sunlight is the world's best disinfectant. Liberals will shine new light on the government..." Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have broken their promises so far. First, an audit by News Media Canada (an association of media outlets across Canada), concluded that the Canadian government's access-to-information system has actually worsened since the Liberals were elected. Secondly, the Trudeau Liberals recently proposed Bill C-58 to change the open government law. While the bill will give Canada's Information Commissioner some limited power to order the release of government information, Bill C-58 doesn't close any secrecy loopholes in the law, and it actually gives politicians and government officials broad, unjustifiable reasons to keep information secret. Canada's Information Commissioner and many citizen groups have concluded that Bill C-58 could actually weaken Canada's open government law. The House of Commons is reviewing Bill C-58 right now, and MPs can make changes to strengthen the law. The Senate will then review Bill C-58, and Senators can also make changes to strengthen the law. Please sign this petition calling on all federal party leaders, and MPs and Senators, to strengthen Bill C-58 so it: closes all excessive secrecy loopholes, and; gives the Information Commissioner the independence and power needed to order the release of information, and to penalize violators who keep information secret that the public has a right to know. To see details about the Liberals' promises, and the response to Bill C-58 by the Information Commissioner and many citizen groups, check out: Democracy Watch and Open Government Coalition call on federal Liberals to make many key open government changes to Bill C-58 (October 23, 2017) Access to Information reforms fall short, pro-openness voices tell MPs (CTVNews.ca publishing Canadian Press article, October 23, 2017) Government access to info bill a step backwards, not forward: watchdog (Canadian Press article, September 28, 2017) Canada's access-to-information system has worsened under Trudeau government: report Access to information law changes won't open up PMO, Cabinet offices (CBC.ca, June 19, 2017)
Stop Fake Online Election Ads
The 2016 U.S. presidential election was unfairly undermined by online social media ads containing fake news, lies about candidates, and other false claims. These ads were targeted at tens of millions of voters, and only those voters would see them in their Facebook and other social media feeds. As a result, election watchdog agencies could do nothing to stop these secret ads. False, secret social media ads will very likely mislead millions of voters in the next Canadian election -- unless they are effectively stopped! It is already illegal to make false claims about an election candidate, and to run an election ad that does not identify who paid for the ad. The Canada Elections Act also limits the amount lobby groups and individuals can spend on elections ads -- to stop wealthy interests from dominating election debates. But if those groups and individuals can advertise in secret on social media sites or with targeted ads on media sites, they can easily make false claims and spend much more than the legal limit without Elections Canada finding out. Please sign this petition calling on federal political party leaders to work together and pass a law to: prohibit media and social media companies from publishing election-related ads during the six months leading up to an election if the ad is paid for with foreign currency (such as Russian rubles); require media and social media companies to report every election-related ad to Elections Canada during the six months leading up to an election so the ad can be reviewed to determine if it makes a clearly false claim; require media and social media companies to report to Elections Canada who placed and paid for each ad, and how much was spent on the ad, so Elections Canada can determine if the amount spent on the ad violates the legal limit (including the amount spent on having employees or contractors or bots share, like or retweet the ad); require the government to establish an independent commission (whose members are appointed by non-governmental bodies like the Canadian Judicial Council) to conduct a public, merit-based search for the next Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Elections Canada, and to give a shortlist of nominees to the party leaders from which they all choose together one person as CEO; give the CEO the power, during the six months leading up to an election, to order clearly false, illegal ads be deleted from media and social media sites, and require the CEO to issue these orders within a few days of receiving the information about each ad, and; give the CEO together with the Commissioner of Canada Elections the power to impose significant fines on media and social media companies and advertisers who violate the rules. Like media companies, social media companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter know who pays for each ad on their site, how much they spend, and what each ad says -- so they can easily report this information to Elections Canada. If the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Elections Canada is appointed after a merit-based searched with the unanimous approval of all party leaders in the House of Commons, the CEO will have the independence and impartiality needed to make fair rulings about whether election-related social media ads are true or clearly false, and to verify whether the amount spent on an ad is more than the legal limit. See details about the dangers of fake online election ads in the following recent articles and news releases: 'One of our greatest challenges in the digital era': Worrying about democracy means thinking about Facebook (CBC.ca, October 28, 2017) ‘Fake news 2.0’: A threat to Canada’s democracy (Globe and Mail, May 28, 2017) Facebook and Twitter are being used to manipulate public opinion in 9 countries (The Guardian, June 19, 2017) Hactivist groups ‘very likely’ to target 2019 federal election: CSE (Global News, June 16, 2017) Canada's spy agency expects cyberattacks during 2019 federal election (CBC News, June 16, 2017) Majority of Canadians can't spot fake news -- poll (Global News, May 26, 2017) Should Facebook tell you more about political ads? (Maclean's, May 9, 2017)
Stop Political Lapdog Appointments
In contrast to Britain's Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of Canada has the power to appoint whomever he wants to head up watchdog agencies that enforce key laws to protect our democracy and human rights, and to protect the environment, consumers and your family from being abused. More than 2,000 people are hand-picked by Canada's Prime Minister to head up these key watchdog agencies, with very few restrictions on whom he chooses. The Prime Minister even gets to choose the watchdogs who enforce the laws that require himself, and his Cabinet ministers and top government officials, to be honest, ethical, open and waste-preventing! As a result, Canada's Prime Minister can easily pick lapdogs to be the Ethics Commissioner, Auditor General, Chief Electoral Officer, Lobbying Commissioner, RCMP Commissioner, Information Commissioner, Parliamentary Budget Officer, and Integrity Commissioner. And the Prime Minister can pick lapdogs for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, National Energy Board, Immigration and Refugee Board, Competition Bureau, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Transportation Safety Board, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and for many more key watchdog agencies. Those lapdogs can then protect the Prime Minister, his Cabinet ministers and government officials instead of strongly enforcing laws and holding them accountable for wrongdoing. This has to stop – unchecked political lapdog appointments that put unqualified people into powerful, important government jobs hurt our democracy, our environment and our families, and waste our money. And it can be stopped – the Ontario government has an independent committee to find qualified people to be appointed as judges for Ontario's courts. And Britain has an independent committee to find qualified people to be appointed as the heads of judges and all law enforcement and watchdog agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals. You can help stop political lapdog appointments by signing and sharing this petition which calls on the federal government to set up a fully independent appointments committee, like Ontario and Britain have, to ensure that qualified, non-partisan people are chosen to be strong watchdogs for all these key law enforcement agencies. Prime Minister Trudeau will choose several key government watchdogs in the next few months, and the Liberals are using exactly the same process to choose lapdogs as former Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives used. The pressure is increasing on Prime Minister Trudeau to set up an independent appointments committee to stop him from appointing political lapdogs. Your time to be heard is now -- please sign and share this petition with everyone you think may want to sign it. You can also help stop political lapdog appointments by your provincial government by clicking here now to send a letter to your Premier and provincial politician. See details about political lapdog appointments in the following recent news stories Toronto Star (May 23, 2017) -- Government shouldn’t choose watchdogs meant to hold it to account National Post (June 6, 2017) -- Trudeau Cabinet in conflict of interest when appointing ethics and lobbying watchdogs as both are investigating Trudeau Democracy Watch (May 17, 2017) -- Federal Liberals should suspend Ethics Commissioner, Lobbying Commissioner and other judicial and watchdog appointments until they make the appointment process independent and merit-based
Stop Bombardier and Reckless Big Business Handouts
Governments across Canada give tens of billions of dollars of your money in tax breaks, subsidies, grants and loans to profitable big businesses -- and they usually ask for nothing in return! The federal and Quebec Liberal governments handed Bombardier more than $1 billion -- with no conditions. So Bombardier's top executives decided to give themselves a $43.5 million pay raise -- while firing 14,000 Bombardier workers. The federal Conservatives did a secret bailout deal with US Steel/Stelco. The company shut down and tried to stop paying the pensions of former steelworkers. The federal Conservatives also bailed out Canada's big banks with a record $114 billion bailout in 2008-2009 (most of it by having CMHC purchase mortgages from the banks) -- with no conditions. Since then, the banks have hiked fees, fired thousands of employees, and outsourced thousands of jobs to people in other countries. The federal governmment hands billions to oil and gas companies and doesn't require them to reduce pollution or act responsibly, and has handed billions to Pratt & Whitney in the past in return for creating jobs that were never created (but the company kept the money). You can help stop these reckless handouts by signing and sharing this petition which calls on the federal government to change the terms of its loan to Bombardier to add the 7 conditions listed below, and to change the law so that in the future the government is only allowed to give support to big businesses in return for legally enforceable responsibility and accountability guarantees from those businesses to: create jobs in Canada and reduce outsourcing to other countries; pay fair wages to all employees and contractors; pay executives no more than a fair, justifiable salary; reduce pollution, abuse of employees and customers and all other wrongdoing; protect whistleblowers in their business who report wrongdoing; empower and include customers, workers, stakeholders and shareholders in their board decision-making processes, and; increase transparency so all their irresponsible and illegal actions are disclosed to the public in an online, searchable database. Given the Bombardier executive pay hike scandal, the pressure is on the federal government and party leaders to make these changes. Your time to be heard is now -- please sign and share this petition with everyone you think may want to sign it. See details about reckless handouts by governments to irresponsible big businesses in the following recent news stories: Globe and Mail (April 3, 2017) -- Opposition parties say Bombardier’s pay delay is not enough Democracy Watch (March 16, 2017) -- Will Liberals make key changes to stop gouging and abuse of 30 million bank consumers or continue protecting overpaid big bank executives? Financial Post (Feb. 16, 2017) -- Bombardier Inc's government loan won't be fully repaid for 15 years CBC.ca (Dec. 13, 2016) -- Steelworkers to Trudeau: Where are the feds on the Stelco deal?
Stop Bank Gouging and Abuse
Feeling gouged by your bank? You have a right to – while businesses in most sectors across Canada were suffering, Canada’s big 6 banks gouged out record annual profits of almost $35 billion in 2015 (which works out to almost $4 million in profit every hour, 5% higher than in 2014, and double their profits in 2010). The big banks also paid their CEOs about $10 million each in 2015, and gave them bonuses that totalled more than $10 million (51% higher than in 2008). In 2016, Canada’s big 6 banks continued to gouge you to hike their profits to more than $37 billion (6% higher than in 2015) – in part by firing thousands of people, cutting services, and hiking fees and credit card interest rates. And their profits in 2017 are headed even higher -- they have already made $20.6 billion in just 6 months. Canada’s big banks make the highest percentage profits of any comparable banks in the industrialized world while doing far too little to support job-creating businesses and community development across Canada. A recent CBC-TV news investigation detailed how TD Bank is pushing its employees to sell you products you don't need, and that you can't afford. In a recent report, the federal government points to all these problems -- including the fact that Canada's big banks control more than 90% of the banking market in the country, which makes them even more powerful and unaccountable to customers. But still the federal government continues to fail to require the banks serve everyone well at fair prices, and to require responsible lending and investing. The federal government even gave the banks a record $114 billion bailout in 2008-2009 (most of it by having CMHC purchase mortgages from the banks), and the federal government will likely bail out the banks again if they have any financial difficulties. The federal government is reviewing the banking law right now – please sign this petition calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and other federal party leaders to make key changes to require Canada’s big banks serve everyone fairly and well at fair prices, and to lend and invest in sustainable, responsible job-creating businesses and support community development. Your time to be heard and counted is now! See details about gouging and abuse by Canada's big banks in the following recent news stories: CBC.ca (March 16, 2017) Consumer advocates have low expectations for probe into Canada's 5 big banks Democracy Watch (March 16, 2017) - Will Liberals make key changes to stop gouging and abuse of 30 million bank consumers or continue protecting overpaid big bank executives? CBC (March 6, 2017) - Bank employees say their jobs depend on upselling customers products that can put them into debt Financial Post (March 2, 2017) - Big 6 bank profits top $10.5 billion for first quarter of 2017 CBC (March 1. 2017) - A pretty greedy time as profits soar for Canadian banks CBC (June 13, 2016) - Canada's major banks hiking fees while pulling in big profits And see details about the federal Finance Department's public consultation on Canada's financial sector in its Report for Public Consultation on Canada's Financial Sector
Protect Whistleblowers Who Protect Canadians
People have tried to protect you and your family by blowing the whistle on governments wasting billions of dollars, approving dangerous drugs, and covering up scandals, and by blowing the whistle on big businesses gouging you, selling you hazardous products, and covering up pollution and oil spills. These whistleblowers have been harassed, fired from their jobs, sued, silenced and hurt by governments and big businesses – all because Canadian whistleblower protection laws are weak and enforcement is negligently bad. The federal Liberals failed to include any promises to strengthen whistleblower protection in their 2015 election platform. The federal Conservatives did little to strengthen whistleblower protection from 2006 to 2015, and actually covered up scandals involving the Integrity Commissioner (who enforces the federal law). Other federal parties have done little to push for key changes, and provincial governments across Canada have failed to protect whistleblowers fully and effectively. A House of Commons committee of MPs unanimously called for key changes to strengthen whistleblower protection in their June 2017 report. The federal government is reviewing the whistleblower protection law right now – please sign this petition calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and other federal party leaders to make key changes to protect whistleblowers who protect you and your family. Your time to be heard and counted is now! To see details about the House Committee's report, check out: Liberals weigh whistleblower protection update amid backlash over access-to-information bill (National Post, June 26, 2017) House Committee recommends key changes to strengthen federal government whistleblower protection – will the Liberals finally make the changes? (Democracy Watch, June 16, 2017)