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
- Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada
- Interim Leader, Conservative Party of Canada
- NDP leader
- Leader, Green Party of Canada
- Interim Leader of the Bloc Québécois
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Ms. Ambrose, Mr. Mulcair, Ms. May and Mr. Fortin:
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 (as the Globe and Mail's reports in the past few weeks have made clear) because instead corporate executives and wealthy individuals with connections to organizations continue to donate amounts that most voters can't afford, and also some are involved in fundraising events for ministers and party leaders.
Even worse, high-priced, exclusive, secretive fundraising events continue to happen where business, union representatives and other wealthy people are paying up to $1,500 to meet behind closed doors with the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and party leaders.
Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why do federal political party leaders continue to allow wealthy people to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations? In hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball and other sports, referees are not allowed to accept even small gifts from players. If it’s important in sports to have impartial referees who are not under the influence of money or other gifts given by players on any team, it is even more important not to have politicians governing under the influence of donations from anyone.
Quebec has Canada’s most ethical, most democratic political finance system. It started in the late 1970s when it banned donations from businesses, unions and other organizations, and limited individuals to donating $2,000 annually.
However, Quebec’s election agency didn’t do much of anything until 2011 to audit donations, and when it did look it found $12.8 million in likely funneled donations from 2006-2011. Big businesses were giving their executives $2,000 each to pass on to provincial political parties.
The results of this audit, along with a massive political corruption scandal that exploited other loopholes in Quebec’s system, led Quebec to lower the donation limit to $100 annually, and to implement public funding to ensure parties and election candidates still had enough funding for their activities and campaigns.
Please make the following key changes to federal laws to match Quebec’s world-leading system, and to help democracy grow in Canada:
1. limit annual combined total donations of money, property and services by individuals to $100-200 to each party (Quebec’s limit is $100), and establish the same limit on candidates donating to their own campaign, with all donations routed through the election watchdog agency (as in Quebec);
2. prohibit loans to political parties, riding associations and candidates, except from a public fund (with loans limited to the average annual amount of donations received during the previous two years);
3. limit spending leading up to, and during election campaigns by parties, nomination race and election candidates, third party interest groups, and also candidates in party leadership races;
4. require disclosure of all donations and gifts of money, property, services and volunteer labour given to any party, riding association, politician, nomination race, election or party leadership candidate, including the identity of the donor’s employer, and board and executive affiliations (and the identity of anyone who assists with any fundraising or fundraising event);
5. give annual public funding for parties based on each vote received during the last election (no more than $1 per vote, with a portion required to be shared with riding associations);
6. give annual public funding matching up to $1 million that each political party raises (Quebec matches up to $200,000);
7. give public funding matching up to $25,000 that each nomination race and election candidate (including independent candidate) raises (similar to Quebec's matching funding system), and public funding matching up to $200,000 that each party leadership campaign candidate raises, and;
8. require election, donation and ethics watchdogs to conduct annual random audits to ensure all the rules are being followed by everyone;
9, Elections Canada, or the Auditor General, must be empowered to review all government advertising and to stop or change any ad that is partisan or misleading;
10. all penalties for violating donation and spending rules must be increased to minimum $100,000 fine and a multi-year jail term, and loss of any severance payment, and a partial clawback of any pension payments;
11. Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections must be required to disclose the rulings they make on all complaints they receive as soon as they make the ruling, and to disclose the rulings they make on all investigations they initiate themselves.
Please let me know what you will do to ensure that these changes are made as soon as possible. I will decide which party I vote for in the next federal election based in part on what changes each party pushes for to stop big money in politics. I look forward to hearing from you.
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