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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Martin Regg Cohn: How Ontario cabinet ministers moonlight for money

...Liberal ministers who spend their time targeting corporations and unions are the dirty little secret of Queen’s Park. Ontario remains the Wild West of Canadian fundraising, now that Alberta has cleaned up its own election financing embarrassments.

Shortly after winning power last spring, NDP Premier Rachel Notley banned all such donations with the “Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta.” She was following the lead of two former federal prime ministers — Jean Chrétien, who first imposed limits on corporate and union contributions, and then Stephen Harper, who eliminated them entirely.

Ontario, however, is still living — and fundraising — in the past. Wynne makes no apologies for perpetuating the practice, describing corporate donations — unlawful elsewhere — as an important right for these entities in the democratic process.

Trolling for company money may be good for the party’s treasury, but it’s bad for the province’s governance. Corporations don’t donate for altruistic reasons, but to access power and advance their own agendas.

Their contributions distort the political process and divert politicians from the public interest. Too much ministerial time is spent hosting intimate dinners at exorbitant prices with so-called stakeholders who have a stake in cabinet decisions...

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