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Ontario's Corporate-Powered Pols

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Big Money Funds Ontario Parties
Corporations provide about 50% of donated money to Ontario Liberal Party, and 43% to Conservative Party, and unions about 28% to NDP -- 99% of Green Party donors are individuals.

Voters still have no right to know who is bankrolling candidates before they vote.

Today, Democracy Watch released the results of its analysis of Ontario political party donations in 2008-2009 as made public by Elections Ontario (2010 data is not included because it has not been confirmed yet by Elections Ontario, which is an excessive delay). 
The analysis also does not cover riding association and campaign donations because that information is not disclosed regularly and so up-to-date data is not yet available.

The analysis, by Democracy Watch Coordinator Tyler Sommers, shows that on average during those two years, corporations donated about 50 percent of all money donated to the Ontario Liberals, and 43 percent to the Conservatives, while the NDP received about 28 percent of its donations from unions.  In contrast, the Green Party received about 99 percent of its donations from individuals.

Other key findings are as follows:

* about 90 percent of corporate or union donations to all the parties are above $1,000, and;
* on average 38 percent of individual donations to the Liberals are above $1,000, 21 percent to the Conservatives, 28 percent to the
NDP, and 32 percent to the Greens.

"Big special interest groups and wealthy individuals use big donations to have too much influence over Ontario political parties," said Duff Conacher, Founding Director of Democracy Watch.
"In order to have a democratic provincial political finance system, and government, the donation limit must be lowered to $500 a year, corporations, unions and other organizations must be banned from donating, and all donations must be disclosed and confirmed regularly so that voters can know who is bankrolling parties and candidates before they vote."

"It is illegal for hockey players to make donations to referees because we want good, fair games, and if we want good, fair
government in Ontario large political donations must also be made illegal," said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.

The Ontario Liberals promised to make democratic changes to the province's political finance rules in their 2003 election platform,
but they broke their promise.

The following flaws in the provincial political finance system must be corrected, including for their municipal elections, in order to
have good, democratic government in the province:
* donation limits are too high and allow a total donation of $15,500 annually, doubling to $31,000 during election years (limits are
$9,300 annually to parties (doubling to $18,600 during election years) and a combined total of $6,200 annually to each parties'
riding associations/candidates' campaigns (doubling to $12,400 during election years)) -- limits must be decreased to $500 to
parties and $500 to associations/candidates annually, which is an amount an average voter can afford when tax deductions are taken into account);
* donations from corporations, unions and other non-voting organizations must be banned;
* all donations (whether used for campaigns or not) must be limited and disclosed regularly and before voting day not just by parties
but also by riding associations and all types of candidates, including the identity of each donor and their employer and major
organizational affiliations (to help prevent illegal funnelling of donations);
* loans and volunteer labour must be limited and disclosed as donations are;
* spending limits (especially on advertising) must be set for nomination and party leadership races, and for interest groups
(third parties), and the government, parties, ridings and candidates for the full 6 months before election day (currently there are only
limits for parties and campaigns during the election campaign period);
* annual public funding based on votes won during elections should be provided to parties that obtain above a specific level of support (as in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Québec, and at the federal level (although the Conservatives have begun the undemocratic move of phasing out this funding)), with a formula to ensure this funding is shared with riding associations, and;
* Elections Ontario should be required to conduct random audits of the parties, riding associations and candidates to ensure that they are following donation and spending rules.

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Tyler Sommers, Coordinator or Duff Conacher, Founding Director
Democracy Watch
Tel: 613-241-5179


Democracy Watch
1 Nicholas St., Suite 412
P.O. Box 821, Stn. B
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5P9
Tel: 613-241-5179
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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