Musings —12.01.2016 03:29 PM—
One in Ottawa, one in Toronto.
The federal one:
“We contend that the recommendations posed in the Majority Report regarding alternative electoral systems are rushed and are too radical to impose at this time,” stated the five Liberal members of the committee in a statement.
The Ontario one:
Ontario has passed a sweeping set of campaign finance reforms to clamp down on cash-for-access fundraising, end corporate and union donations, impose tighter caps on individual contributions and put restrictions on SuperPAC-style third-party advertisers.
The Election Finances Act – which was prompted by a Globe and Mail investigation into pay-to-play fundraising – passed its final vote in the legislature Thursday morning with all three parties voting in favour.
It will prohibit all provincial politicians, candidates and senior political staffers from attending fundraising events; ban corporations and unions from donating; cap donations from individuals at $3,600 per political party annually, down from more than $30,000 under the current system; and third-party advertisers wishing to influence elections, who currently face no spending restrictions, will be capped at spending $100,000 during a campaign period and $600,000 in the six months prior.
Both of these reforms are huge, historic and – sorry, Tories and Dippers – mostly to the credit of the Grits.
The federal one sees the Trudeau Liberals acknowledging what some of us have said for quite some time – a change to democracy needs to be democratic. It can’t be rushed. And it can’t be legitimized by four vague sentences in the Liberal election platform.
The Liberals have accepted that, and are now saying this can’t be rushed. It is the New Democrats and the Conservatives – with the majority on the committee – that are now trying to push through an ill-defined referendum. Shame on them.
The Ontario political finance reforms – soon to be matched by Alberta, New Democrat friends out there tell me – are equally significant. They approximate what my boss Jean Chretien did in 2003 – but they actually go a bit further.
The reforms allow partisans like me to appear at fundraisers (and I have done that for years, from B.C. to Ontario, and I will continue to happily do that for candidates and causes I like), but not anyone else in day-to-day politics. That’s big. Also big: the third party election spending stuff. So long, Working Families.
Whenever a politician does something that is directly against their own self-interest, they should be applauded.
I therefore applaud the Trudeau Liberals and the Wynne Liberals. It’s a good day for democracy, Canada.