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2017 donations show Ontario political finance system still undemocratic – Liberals and PCs both received 36% of donations from only 11% of donors

2017 donations show Ontario political finance system still undemocratic – Liberals and PCs both received 36% of donations from only 11% of donors

NDP received 14% of donations from only 2% of their donors, and Greens received 18% of donations from only 4% of their donors

Elections Ontario should conduct audit -- would likely find high donation limit has led to funneling and bundling of donations (as happened in Quebec and at the federal level)

To stop the unethical influence of big money in Ontario politics, 50-group coalition, and more than 10,000 Ontario voters, call for annual donation and loan limit for individuals (including candidates) of $100 (as in Quebec), stronger enforcement and penalties for violations, and review of annual per-vote and donation-matching public funding to prove it’s actually needed

Same changes should be made to municipal political finance system across Ontario

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, January 11, 2018

OTTAWA - Today, just as it predicted in 2016, Democracy Watch revealed that Ontario’s provincial political finance system is still undemocratic as initial 2017 donations data from Elections Ontario show the Liberals and PCs received a large share of their donations from a very small group of people who donated $1,000 or more.

The Ontario Liberals received 36.5% of total donations in 2017 from only 11.8% of their donors who donated $1,000 or more.  The PCs received 35.7% of total donations from only 11% of their donors. The NDP received 14% of donations from only 2% of their donors, and the Greens received 18% of donations from only 4% of their donors. (See details further below)

As well, people who donated $500-$999 contributed a significant portion of the total money raised by the parties.  Overall, the Liberals received 60% of their total donations from 26% of their donors who donated $500 or more; the PCs received 56% from 23% of their donors who donated $500 or more; the NDP received 33% from 7.5% of their donors who donated $500 or more, and; the Greens received 42% from 18% of their donors who donated $500 or more.

“As Democracy Watch predicted last year, Ontario’s new donation limit is much higher than the average voter can afford and the parties are relying on wealthy donors for a lot of the money they raise, which gives those wealthy donors unethical influence over the parties,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Money in Politics Coalition.  “Ontario’s too-high donation limit is also likely encouraging funneling of donations from businesses through their executives and employees and their families, and bundling of donations by lobbyists, both of which happened in Quebec and at the federal level, and Elections Ontario must conduct an audit to ensure these things are not happening.”

Based on the donation patterns in 2017, Democracy Watch and the Money in Politics Coalition (made up of 50 groups with a total of more than 3 million members), joined by almost 10,000 Ontario voters who have signed a petition on Change.org, called on Ontario’s political parties to make the following changes to get big money out of Ontario politics before the legislature breaks for the upcoming provincial election:

  1. set an individual donation limit of $100 per year (as in Quebec);
  2. set a limit of what candidates can give to their own campaign of $100 per year;
  3. prohibit loans to parties except from a public fund;
  4. review the per-vote annual public funding and, if the parties can actually prove they need it, set it at at most $1 per vote, and use annual donation-matching public funding if parties prove it is needed, and;
  5. strengthen enforcement and penalties for violations.

Democracy Watch also called on Elections Ontario to conduct an audit to ensure that businesses were not funneling donations through their executives and family members (as happened in Quebec and at the federal level), and to ensure that lobbyists are not holding fundraising events to be “bundlers” of donations as a way of having undue influence over parties or politicians.

Years of experience and scandals in Quebec before 2013, at the federal level since 2007, and in Toronto since 2009, and also in Alberta, show clearly that setting a donation limit that allows individuals to donate more than $1,000 each year will allow the unethical influence of big money donations, and cash-for-access fundraising schemes, to continue in Ontario.

“As Quebec, federal and Alberta donation scandals show clearly, the only way to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of money in B.C. politics is to stop big money donations by allowing only individuals to donate only $100 a year,” said Conacher.

See details about past donation scandals, and the key changes needed to stop big money in Ontario politics, in this news release.

The donation data for the four main parties, and donations of $1,000 or more, is as follows:

Ontario Liberal Party:
Total Donated in 2017 – $1,106,657.96
Total Number of Donors in 2017 – 2,787
Total Donated in amounts of $1,000 or more – $403,532.45 (36.46% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $1,000 or more – 329 (11.80% of total donors)

PC Party of Ontario:
Total Donated in 2017 – $2,353,406.70
Total Number of Donors in 2017 – 6,541
Total Donated in amounts of $1,000 or more – $839,626 (35.67% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $1,000 or more – 722 (11.03% of total donors)

Ontario NDP:
Total Donated in 2017 – $1,155,909.91
Total Number of Donors in 2017 – 6,508
Total Donated in amounts of $1,000 or more – $163,426.50 (14.14% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $1,000 or more – 148 (2.3% of total donors)

Green Party of Ontario:
Total Donated in 2017 – $379,308.40
Total Number of Donors in 2017 – 1,458
Total Donated in amounts of $1,000 or more – $68,545.50 (18.07% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $1,000 or more – 58 (3.98% of total donors)

The donation data for the four main parties for donations of $500-$999 is as follows:

Ontario Liberal Party:
Total Donated in amounts of $500-$999 – $255,932.31 (23.12% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $500-$999 – 392 (14.06% of total donors)

PC Party of Ontario:
Total Donated in amounts of $500-$999 – $508,152.06 (21.59% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $500-$999 – 817 (12.49% of total donors)

Ontario NDP:
Total Donated in amounts of $500-$999 – $218,512.59 (18.90% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $500-$999 – 338 (5.19% of total donors)

Green Party of Ontario:
Total Donated in amounts of $500-$999 – $91,734.65 (24.18% of total donated)
Total Number of Donors donating $500-$999 – 203 (13.92% of total donors)

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch and Chairperson of the Money in Politics Coalition
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign

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