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 6 petitions
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 already made $10.5 billion in just 3 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: 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. 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!
Stop Big Money in Federal Politics
Money to the Ref? We don’t allow that in the Olympics or hockey or baseball or other sports – but in federal Canadian politics it’s legal! Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why would we allow big businesses, interest groups or wealthy people to buy them off with big money donations, including secret donations? The federal Liberal government has been caught up in a political fundraising scandal as the Globe and Mail reported recently that Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet ministers are holding dozens of high-priced, secretive, exclusive fundraising events. Big business executives and other wealthy people are paying up to $1,500 to meet behind closed doors with Prime Minister Trudeau and other Cabinet ministers. The federal Conservatives and the NDP have also held high-priced, exclusive events where donors pay to meet with their leaders. While donations to federal political parties and riding associations from corporations, unions and other organizations were banned in 2007, the ban is really a charade because instead corporate executives and wealthy individuals with connections to organizations continue to donate and be involved in fundraising events. The federal political parties are all resisting changes to stop big money donations. Please sign this petition calling on the federal parties to stop big money in Canadian federal politics by lowering the donation limit to $100 a year, and making other key changes – as Quebec did in 2013 to stop wealthy people and interest groups from using money as an undemocratic, unethical way of influencing politicians and parties. Please see background information at: Democracy Watch (October 25, 2016): Group files ethics complaint with federal Lobbying Commissioner about big business chairman assisting with fundraising event for Finance Minister while his business is lobbying the minister GlobalNews.ca (October 28, 2016): Liberal fundraisers being investigated by lobbying watchdog Globe and Mail (October 31, 2016): Donation stats indicate Liberal fundraisers are exclusive events
Stop Big Money in B.C. Politics
Money to the Ref? We don’t allow that in the Olympics or hockey or baseball or other sports – but in B.C. politics it’s legal! B.C.’s Liberal government have been caught up in a political fundraising scandal for the past several months after Premier Christy Clark was caught holding high-priced, secretive, exclusive fundraising events. Big business executives and other wealthy people are paying up to $20,000 to meet behind closed doors with Premier Clark and other Cabinet ministers. The B.C. NDP have also held high-priced, exclusive events where donors pay to meet with NDP leader John Horgan. B.C. has one of the most unethical and undemocratic political finance systems in Canada – it’s truly a best-government-money-can-buy system. Businesses, unions and other organizations, even foreign businesses and interest groups, can donate an unlimited amount to B.C. political parties and politicians. To their credit, the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green Party have called for a ban on donations from corporations, unions and other organizations, and limits on donations from individuals, and as of September 2016 the B.C. Green Party only accepts donations from individuals. The B.C. NDP have also called for: a ban on partisan government advertising; a limit on pre-election spending by parties and candidates, and; a ban on parties paying their leaders a salary. However, even more changes are needed to stop the unethical and undemocratic influence of big money in B.C. politics. The B.C. Liberals are resisting any changes that would stop them receiving more of their money through big donations from big businesses and wealthy individuals. Please sign this petition calling on the B.C. parties to work together to stop big money in B.C. politics by banning donations from businesses and other organizations, lowering the donation limit to $100 a year, and making other key changes – as Quebec did in 2013 to stop wealthy people and interest groups 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 big businesses, interest groups or wealthy people to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations? The Globe and Mail revealed last spring that B.C.’s Liberal Premier Christy Clark, 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. Despite the public outcry about these unethical fundraising events, the B.C. Liberals are resisting making any changes. The B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green Party have called for some changes but not enough to stop big money's influence in B.C. politics. Please see background information at: Democracy Watch (October 26, 2016): Democracy Watch challenges B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s ruling on Premier Clark’s high-priced, exclusive fundraising events CBC (April 1, 2016): Premiers' exclusive fundraisers violate conflict of interest rules, says Democracy Watch
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