Money trumps Integrity

Attacking Liberals seems to be de rigueur as both Parliament Hill and Queens Park Liberals were reputedly recently attacked. The attackers were a couple of the little guys who were then accused of abusing 3rd party advertising regulations. In Ottawa it was the National Citizens Coalition going after Interim Leader, Bob Rae and in Toronto it was Wind Concerns Ontario accused of spending breaches for their anti-Liberal campaign during recent Ontario elections. Lorrie Goldstein in the Toronto Sun carried the news about the NCC breach and the Toronto Star carried the story about Wind Concerns Ontario.
As Lorrie Goldstein noted in his article, the reputed Parliament Hill breach, related to 3rd party spending, and is paltry compared to the Ontario rules. The Act governing spending in Ontario makes the National regulations look like chump change, with various groups aligned with the Liberals, spending millions on attack ads both before and during the election campaign. Indeed the spending on attack ads is only one side of the coin. On the other side are “party donations” and in Ontario standards are much more liberal allowing companies and unions to contribute up to a maximum of $9,300 per year. Ontario allows multiple contributions by corporate subsidiaries and union locals.

A review of the Ontario “Annual Returns” filed by the various parties for the December 31, 2010 year end displays the results of their fund raising activities. Reviewing the returns for the Ontario Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is an interesting exercise. Donations for 2010 were very similar with the Liberals receiving $4,054,413 and the Conservatives $4,275,248. Delve deeper however and the source of those donations are quite different. As one example two large US headquartered Unions (United Associations and the United Brotherhood) made 22 contributions (individual locals) to feed the Liberal bank account to the tune of over $187,000. Total up the contributions by; unions, associations (those representing professionals), teachers federations, trade councils (representing professionals) , etc. for both of the parties and one notes a huge difference. The Liberal Party received in excess of 175 donations of $530,000 from those groups whereas donations to the Conservative Party by 31 of this group was only $123,000.

The donations page also highlights the Liberal Party received almost $90,000 from about 25 renewable energy companies versus $1,065 from 2 companies for the Conservatives. The Sussex Strategy Group contributed $8,005 to the Liberal Party but only $1,635 to the Conservatives. No doubt the latter donation disappeared for 2011 as it was the Conservatives who broke the story about the “confusion” report that Sussex produced for the Liberal Party to defend the Green Energy Act. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association also signalled their intentions by donating $10,195 to the Liberals but a measly $130 to the Conservatives.

One must surmise the intention of the groups highlighted above was to ensure the Liberals had enough in their bank account to wage an effective battle against the other parties.
Andrew Coyne’s article in the National Post January 20th suggested that a maximum limit be set for political contributions and only individuals (no companies, no unions, etc.) should be allowed to contribute. After reviewing only the 2010 filings for just two Ontario based political parties it seems to be the right thing to do.

Parker Gallant,
January 23, 2012


Bruce Sharp

Better late than never, I just watched All the President’s Men.

“Follow the money”.

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