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 2 petitions
Stop Big Money in Ontario Politics
Money to the Ref? We don’t allow that in hockey or basketball or other sports – but in politics it’s legal! Ontario’s Liberal government proposed last May allowing wealthy people to donate more than $4,500 a year overall to each political party, and more than $7,500 during an election year. In late August they proposed to lower those amounts to $2,600 a year (and $3,600 in a year with an election or by-election) -- but this still much higher than most voters can afford. Ontario's opposition parties seem to support these too high donation limits. Please sign this petition calling on the Liberals to lower the donation limit to $100 a year – as Quebec did in 2013 to stop wealthy people from using money as an undemocratic, unethical way of influencing politicians and parties. Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why would we allow wealthy people to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations. The Toronto Star revealed last spring that Ontario’s Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, and her Cabinet ministers, and the opposition party leaders, were all holding high-priced, secret exclusive events where politicians sell access to themselves in return for a big donation. When these unethical fundraising events were revealed, the Ontario Liberals first resisted making any changes, and then Premier Wynne stopped the events and promised changes. Some of their proposed changes are good, including: a ban on donations by businesses, unions and other organizations; limits on political party and third party advertising spending leading up to an election, and during an election campaign period, and; registration requirements and limits on donations to nomination race candidates and political party leadership race candidates. However, the Liberals propose to continue to allow individuals to donate more than $2,400 a year overall to each political party, and more than $3,600 during an election year. That is much, much more than most voters can afford, and will continue to allow wealthy people to use money to influence politicians and parties. A high donation limit will also make it easy for businesses and unions to give money to their managers (and their family members) to make big donations. Quebec banned donations from businesses and unions years ago, but allowed people to donate $3,000 a year. Elections Quebec audited donations from 2006-2011 and found more than $12 million in donations by business managers that likely came from money their business gave them. Even though it was illegal in Quebec for businesses to funnel donations through their managers, no one has been charged or prosecuted – the managers just claim it was their money and their decision to make the donation. To stop these corrupting donations, Quebec lowered its donation limit to $100 a year in 2013. The Ontario Liberals are also proposing to allow candidates to donate $5,000 to their own campaign, and party leadership candidates to donate $25,000 to their campaign. Both these changes will favour wealthy candidates. The petition also calls for these donations to be limited to $100. Finally, the Liberals also propose to give Ontario’s political parties $2.71 a year for each vote they received in the past election. This would give the Liberals more than $5 million a year, the Progressive Conservatives about $4 million, the NDP about $3 million and the Greens about $630,000. This is too much money – it encourages the parties to bait voters with false promises at election time to get the per-vote money, and if a party loses support between elections it will continue to get the money. A better system is $1 per vote per year, together with matching funds raised with public funding (as in Quebec). The petition also calls for these changes. Please see background information at: Democracy Watch news release (August 24, 2016): Ontario political parties going for the gold at their summer games Globe and Mail (May 9, 2016): Ontario Liberals held more than 90 cash-for-access fundraisers in two-year span Toronto Star (March 29, 2016): Escalating fundraising demands part of ‘the system’ at Queen’s Park CBC (April 1, 2016): Premiers' exclusive fundraisers violate conflict of interest rules, says Democracy Watch CBC Power and Politics video (April 1, 2016): Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, discusses the rules around political fundraising
Call an inquiry into the Canada Revenue Agency and tax cheat accounting firms
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is supposed to fairly, ethically and effectively ensure that everyone pays the taxes they owe. But the CRA has developed an unethical relationship with big accounting companies, and as a result it seems to be letting those companies and their rich clients get away with tax-cheating schemes that cost Canadians millions. At the same time, CRA has targeted many people who are not wealthy, and also charities, with aggressive enforcement and high penalties. As the CBC has reported since last September, dozens of people have left the CRA and gone to work for the big accounting companies. Top CRA officials regularly attend behind-closed-door events with top accounting company officials, and the Canadian government even works in partnership with the accounting industry association. The Panama Papers have revealed that just the tip of what is likely a very large and dangerous iceberg of tax schemes used by wealthy people and companies to cheat on their taxes. Hundreds of Canadians, and the Royal Bank, are among those named in the Panama Papers. This petition asks Prime Minister Trudeau and Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier to call a public inquiry into whether the CRA’s relationship with big accounting companies has led to unfair, unethical and weak enforcement of tax laws that let the companies and their rich clients get away with cheating on their taxes. The petition also calls for changes to federal laws as soon as possible to increase from 1 year up to 2 years (for junior employees) and up to 5 years (for senior employees) the cooling-off period during which former government employees are prohibited from working with anyone or any company or organization they watched over while in government, and to require them to notify the Integrity Commissioner when they leave government so the Commissioner can ensure they follow this rule, and to require the Commissioner to disclose on a searchable website the list of where former government employees are working during their cooling-off period, and to give the Commissioner the power to impose strong penalties on former government employees who violate key ethics rules (there are no penalties now). Canadians deserve to know the whole truth, and changes are needed to the law to ensure the CRA’s enforcement of tax laws is fair, ethical and effective. Please see related CBC articles: April 11: Senior federal tax enforcer joined KPMG as its offshore 'sham' was under CRA probe April 11: Major accounting firms routinely recruited federal justice and CRA tax enforcement officials April 10: Canada Revenue Agency's case against KPMG over offshore 'sham' delayed — again April 10: KPMG introduced speech by CRA chief as firm faced offshore tax probe March 9: Critics want public hearings into Canada Revenue amnesty for KPMG offshore tax dodgers Oct. 7, 2015: CRA 'special adviser' joined industry lobby group amid probe of KPMG Oct. 6, 2015: Harper government partnered with industry group battling CRA over KPMG case Sept. 21, 2016: Cabinet ministers met publicly with KPMG while firm's tax 'sham' under CRA probe