Other main parties’ top donors also provided too-high amount of funding
Doubling donation limit as Bill 254 proposes will allow wealthy donors to buy even more influence over parties and politicians, and will likely benefit Ford’s PC Party the most
To make system democratic and ethical, Bill 254 should limit donations and loans to $100 annually (as in Quebec) and per-vote funding should be reviewed to prove it is needed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, March 26, 2021
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released its analysis that shows Ontario’s provincial political finance system is still undemocratic as initial 2020 donations data from Elections Ontario show the PCs received almost 50% of their donations of more than $100 from only 20% of their donors who donated $1,000 or more.
The other main parties’ top donors also provided a disproportionate amount of funding. The Ontario Liberals received 15% of their donations from 5% of their donors who donated $1,000 or more. The NDP received almost 8% of donations from only 1.5% of their donors, and the Greens received 14.5% of donations from only 2.85% of their donors. The PC Party’s and Liberal Party’s average donation is roughly double the average for the NDP and the Green Party.
Democracy Watch’s analysis shows that the median donation to provincial parties of donations of more than $100, which is the most accurate indication of the amount an average voter can afford to donate, is: PCs ($200), Liberals ($50); NDP ($25); Greens ($25). Click here to see chart with details of Democracy Watch’s analysis.
The Ford government’s Bill 254 proposes to double the annual donation limit, which will allow wealthy donors to buy even more unethical influence over parties and politicians, and will likely benefit Ford’s PC Party the most. The Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly is holding hearings on Bill 254 this Monday, March 29.
“Ontario’s 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. “Doubling the donation limit as the Ford government’s Bill 254 proposes will allow wealthy donors to buy even more unethical influence over parties and politicians, and will likely benefit Ford’s party the most.”
Based on the donation patterns in 2020, Democracy Watch and the Money in Politics Coalition (made up of 50 groups with a total of more than 3 million members), joined by thousands of Ontario voters who support the call for these changes, called on Ontario’s political parties to make the following changes to Bill 254 to get big money out of Ontario politics finally:
- set an individual donation limit of $100 per year (as in Quebec);
- set a limit of what candidates can give to their own campaign of $100 per year;
- prohibit loans to parties except from a public fund;
- review the per-vote annual public funding and, if the parties can actually prove they need it, set it at most $1 per vote (and instead use annual donation-matching public funding if parties prove it is needed as that is a better system), and;
- 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, 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.
To see a summary of donation funneling scandals across Canada, click here.
“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,” said Conacher.
Years of experience and scandals across Canada show clearly that setting a donation limit that allows individuals to donate more than $1,000 each year allows the unethical influence of big money donations, and cash-for-access fundraising schemes, to continue.
“As donation scandals across Canada show clearly, the only way to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of money in Ontario politics is to stop big money donations by allowing only individuals to donate only $100 a year,” said Conacher.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign