Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why do we allow wealthy private interests to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations?
The scandals involving a federal Cabinet minister’s questionable donations and campaign spending in the last election, executives and family members from the same company donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to an Alberta political party, and corruption in Quebec, have highlighted Canada’s weak and loophole-filled restrictions on money in politics.
A senator recently said that federal politicians are under pressure "all the time" to take "brown paper bags with cash in it." And Italian police have said that Ontario has a mafia corruption problem in the construction industry even worse than in Quebec.
The following huge loopholes allow wealthy interests to corrupt Canadian politicians and governments with huge donations:
* Secret, unlimited donations of money, property, and services to candidates in nomination races and political party leadership campaigns are legal;
* Disclosure of "volunteer labour" through corporations and other organizations giving employees paid time off to work on campaigns is not required and there are no limits on donations of volunteer labour;
* Unlimited loans to parties, riding associations, leadership candidates, election candidates, etc. from corporations, unions, and other organizations are allowed, and;
* Donors don't have to disclose their employer or affiliations with organizations, which makes it easy for corporations and other organizations to funnel donations through their employees and associates
Politicians across Canada need to hear from Canadians that we want strict rules to stop wealthy people and corporations and other organizations from using money and gifts to corrupt our democracy!
Please help call for the end of big money in Canadian politics, and to make the political finance system democratic, by sending your letter now, and by signing the petition HERE.
I am joining this call for changes to end secret, unlimited donations and loans to political parties and politicians across Canada, and for other key changes to make political finance systems across Canada fully democratic.
We don’t allow hockey players to give donations to referees, so why is these legal in politics? Politicians are the referees who decide what is in the public interest, so it makes no sense at all to allow wealthy interests to buy influence with large donations and gifts to candidates and political parties (including secret donations.
While the passage of federal Bill C-24 in 2004 and Bill C-2 in 2006 helped rein in this influence, several flaws and loopholes in the federal political donations and campaign spending law remain, and must be corrected and closed if the law is to be effective. These loopholes also exist in every province and territory.
The nation-wide Money in Politics Coalition made up of 50 citizen groups with a combined total membership of more than 3 million Canadians supports these key changes. Specifically:
* donation limits and disclosure requirements are needed for “volunteer labour” donated to parties and candidates during nomination race, election and party leadership campaigns, to close this existing secret donations loophole;
* loans to parties, riding associations, nomination race candidates, election candidates and party leadership candidates from corporations, unions and all other types of organizations (including political party and riding association loans to candidates) must be banned (along with banning donations from such organizations), and loans from individuals must be limited to low levels (along with limiting donations) so that loans cannot be used to influence the government and politicians;
* as federal political party leadership campaign candidates are required to do, all candidates, politicians and parties must be required to disclose publicly all donations, gifts, and the status of any loans, regularly and during the week before election day, so voters know who is bankrolling them;
* disclosure of the identity of each individual donor's employer must be required (as in the U.S.) and disclosure of each donor's direct organizational affiliations must also be required (to help ensure that corporations, unions and other organizations are not funneling donations through their employees or board members);
* riding associations and political parties must be prohibited (as federal election candidates and MPs have been) from having a secret trust fund and from taking secret, unlimited donations into the fund;
* secret, unlimited donations to all candidates in nomination race, election and political party leadership campaigns must be banned (as they have been banned for federal election candidates);
* as the UN Convention Against Corruption and other international standards require, the bank accounts of all public officials who have decision-making power must be monitored for suspicious transactions;
* the penalty for taking a secret donation of money, property or services, or having a secret trust fund, must be increased to minimum $100,000 and a multi-year jail term;
* a public funding system should be established that matches the donations made to any nomination race, election, and party leadership candidate who raises a specific minimum amount of money showing they have voter support;
* the system of per-vote public funding of federal political parties should be maintained, and similar systems established across the country, but the annul amount should be only be $0.75 per vote received (to ensure that in order to prosper parties need to have active, ongoing support of a broad base of individuals) and riding associations should be required to receive a fair share of this funding (to decrease the control of party headquarters over riding associations);
* spending limits must be established for political party leadership campaigns to ensure a level playing field for all candidates.
* wherever election dates are fixed every few years, spending by candidates, riding associations, political parties and third party interest groups must be limited for a few months before each election day;
* donations by political parties to riding associations and candidates must be limited to decrease the possibility of party headquarters influencing the selection of candidates by riding associations, and to make associations and candidates more independent from party headquarters;
Please let me know what you will do to ensure that these changes are made as soon as possible. I will be deciding which political party to vote for in the next election based on the responses I receive from representatives in each party. I look forward to hearing from you.