During the recent provincial election campaign both the NDP and the Green Party made strong commitments to electoral financial reform.
Tuesday, the NDP came through with a bill that will go a long way towards creating a level playing field in that regard during provincial elections.
The legislation tabled by the NDP will eliminate all corporate and union donations. Donations from individuals will be capped at $1,200 per year. On a transitional basis, political parties will be entitled to a modest payment from the provincial government based on the number of votes they obtained in the previous provincial election.
I’m very pleased with this legislation! Removing corporate and union donations from the political landscape will go a long way towards democratizing provincial elections. Here’s how.
As a candidate for any election, if you can’t get your message out through blanket advertising, then the only other effective way to do so is through town hall or all-candidates meetings. So when you don’t have a huge war chest stuffed with corporate and union donations to finance carpet-bomb advertising, you are forced to meet with the public. The beneficiary is democracy.
Let me offer you an example of that. In the month leading up to Toronto’s most recent municipal election there were literally hundreds of all-candidates meetings. This is most certainly attributable to the fact that spending by politicians seeking election is highly regulated and capped in Ontario. This contrasts with Vancouver where the number of all-candidates meetings leading up to our most recent municipal election were few and far between. In Vancouver, developers literally purchase the outcome of an election.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the legislation tabled by the NDP will be used by the provincial government as a template to take the next step — regulating financial donations and the subsequent financial expenditures of politicians seeking municipal office.