Ontario government one step closer to banning politicians from fundraising

Posted January 24th, 2019 by admin and filed in 长沙夜网
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TORONTO – Ontario is one step closer to banning all provincial politicians and would-be politicians from fundraising.

Election finance reform legislation passed second reading Tuesday, which means it will now go to public committee hearings – though the opposition parties say the governing Liberals aren’t interested in input.

The bill had a rare round of hearings after first reading, but the Progressive Conservatives and NDP complained that the majority Liberals did not take their suggested amendments into consideration.

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READ MORE: Ontario MPP fundraising ban to include candidates, nomination contestants

Instead, the Liberals announced a surprise proposal to ban members of the provincial legislature from fundraising, which they said they would introduce as an amendment after second reading.

Details were slim at the time, but the Liberals have since said that the ban will include not just elected politicians, but also candidates, leadership contestants and nomination contestants.

But the opposition parties say the problem lies with fundraising events that see cabinet ministers attend high-priced functions with stakeholders, not politicians charging small amounts at barbecue fundraisers or contestants fundraising to launch a bid to be a party’s nominee in a riding.

“It’s the Liberals kind of trying to…hide their own bad behaviour under this issue,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “Look, there’s a huge difference between a $10,000-a-plate fundraiser where people are buying access to cabinet minister…(and) a $10-a-plate corn roast at a local riding.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown suggested the outright fundraising ban is simply a distraction from other “loopholes” the Liberals are leaving in the bill, such as not counting it as a corporate donation when companies pay for staff members to work on a party’s campaign, Brown said.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi wouldn’t say what other changes the Liberals might make to the bill after the next round of hearings, but one he suggested he was not in favour of was making polling and research expenses count toward election spending caps.

“We feel that those type of things don’t go to the day-to-day operations of any campaign,” he said. “When it comes to expense limits they always tend to focus on the day-to-day operations of a campaign, not research and polling that would help develop policy and strategy.”

Naqvi said the reason the ban extends to all politicians is because they all have some degree of influence. Progressive Conservative Vic Fedeli is advertising a $500-a-plate fundraiser in November with Brown as a “special guest,” he noted.

“What I found very interesting to note is that he touts his critic role as critic to finance, he talks about his membership in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, which tells me that of course opposition members see some influence coming out of those titles,” Naqvi said.

Brown said he and his party – which has a multi-million-dollar debt – are indeed continuing to actively fundraise until new rules come into force, but it’s not the same as cabinet ministers fundraising from stakeholders.

READ MORE: Kathleen Wynne defends plan to ban provincial politicians from fundraising

“There’s one giant difference,” he said. “In the opposition we can’t give out a single cent in contracts.”

The legislation would also ban corporate and union donations, and include a per-vote subsidy for parties and riding associations to offset the loss of fundraising dollars.

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