Back in April Premier Kathleen Wynne proposed a ban on corporate and union donation in provincial election campaigns. More than a decade after these types of contributions were outlawed at the federal level. It is an idea that is long over-due at the municipal and school board level. The potential for corruption amongst political candidates has become far too great. As such, this is what I propose:
1. Changes to third-party advertising rules to include clarifying what constitutes a third-party advertiser, and introducing anti-collusion measures and penalties.
2. A total ban on corporate and union donations beginning 2 January 2018.
3. Lowering the maximum allowable donations from $750 to $500.
4. An overall reduction in spending limits by candidates during election parties and introducing limits to fundraising during elections.
It is bad enough that candidates in this campaign (myself excluded) are once again raising money for their campaigns exclusively through high-rollers – primarily via union coffers with the privilege to donate the maximum allowed amount.
What is especially galling is the attempt to justify this practice by certain candidates. They may claim this is simply a part of the democratic process. If so, it is a part in need of urgent reform.
However, they cannot see this.
Much like the 2014 general election, candidates repeatedly make a point of taking donations from corporate and union interests, especially the education sector, in exchange for influence. These interests are willing to pay the maximum amount multiple times over because they believe it is worth their while. And the very fact that such a practice keeps happening indicates that they believe they are receiving value for their money.
That is certainly my perception, especially after being a two-time candidate, during which time I have never accepted a contribution from a corporation or a union.
This has gone on far too long. It is vital for public decisions to be made in the public interest, not in the interest of a few well-financed political supporters.
Will my fellow candidates stand up and make the same call for democratic reform?