Election Finance Laws

The Liberals in previous years had a bad habit of having expensive dinners that cabinet ministers could attend.  This is a problem as it means rich people have more access to the government then people with little or no disposable income. This can be a problem in a democracy.

In democracy, money shouldn’t outweigh citizens.

Mike Schreiner led the charge to reform political fundraising laws in order to stop this ‘pay for access’. During the process he also got corporation and union donations to political entities banned, brought down the donation limits (although the new limits are still higher than most people can afford).

Candidates, MPPs, cabinet ministers can no longer attend fundraising dinners.  People do not have to pay to access Ontario politicians.

Elections Ontario has handy guidebooks for Political Parties, Candidates and their CFOs on their website. They are in easy to understand language, spell out clearly what are fundraising events and restrictions on who can attend these events.  Donation limits are easily found out as well.  The limit is $1222 for 2018. This amount can be donated to:

  • a Party, and
  • to a constituency association
  • and to a campaign.

You can donate $1222 in total to election campaigns.  This can be donated to one campaign or spread out over several campaigns.  The maximum you can donate in total is $3,666 in total.

Earth Day with David Suzuki

Election Finance laws are mildly frustrating for someone in the position of CFO or as a fundraising director.  Having to say, “Sorry, you can’t donate that much, as much as I would like to accept it” or “no we can’t charge admission to this event” is hard to do.  That is why the recent Earth Day rally in Guelph with David Suzuki, Sarah Harmer, Elizabeth May and Mike Schreiner was free.   Anyone could attend the event.  We did ask for donations at the event, which is allowed, but a donation was not required for attendance.

However, the frustration is worth it to make democracy stronger.  Everyone should have access to the people running for office and in office without having to pay for the privilege.  The representatives elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario are there to represent us, the people in the province.  Right now, we are having an election, essentially one big job interview for candidates.  We all should have access to them, no matter how much money we have, because the candidates who are elected are supposed to represent us at Queen’s Park.

When people running for office break Election Finance laws, I wonder what they do they really think about democracy?  What other laws will they break to get or retain power?

The laws governing election spending limits and ‘pay for access’ are there to help make our elections fair and democratic.

Large election events don’t just happen.  They are never planned in isolation.  Candidates (and especially leaders of parties) never just show up.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse and is never an excuse.

Election laws are there to protect you, the people of Ontario.

The Green Party of Ontario on Bill 201

Mike Schreiner speaking at Gord Miller's GPC Town Hall in GuelphOntario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner has been sharing GPO’s ideas for restoring trust in the integrity of our system by reforming political party funding rules.

Some of these Green ideas have been incorporated in Bill 201, currently being considered by the House.  Clearly our message is gaining traction, since the Liberal Government took the unprecedented step of inviting Mike to participate in the drafting new legislation by speaking to the Standing Committee on General Government today.

“The Liberal bill reflects many GPO priorities, including eliminating corporate and union donations, limiting third-party advertising, and introducing a per-vote allowance to finance political parties.

However, there are still some glaring omissions that need to be addressed, and Mike’s presentation is making sure these are still on the table before the bill gets past..

Becky Smit, Executive Director, GPO

This afternoon Mike told the Standing Committee on General Government what the Ontario Green Party likes about Bill 201:

  • It eliminates corporate and union donations
  • A more democratic way to fund political parties: per-vote funding
  • It restricts third-party advertising during writ and pre-writ periods
  • Establishes donation limits for nomination contestants and leadership races
  • Eliminates general and by-election contribution periods to a party

Then he outlined the significant revisions the GPO would like to see in Bill 201:

  • Lower contribution limits and eliminate loopholes
  • Lower spending limits for political parties
  • Eliminate the partial reimbursement of campaign expenses
  • Improve disclosure and oversight rules

You can read the full text of Mike’s presentation to the committee:
at gpo.ca/how-fix-elections-finances-bill

We can help by:

  • Spreading the word on Twitter:
    @OntarioGreens live tweeted during Mike’s presentation #onpoli #QPnot4sale
  • Like our post on Facebook
  • Send a message to Premier Wynne